For Immediate Release, March 16, 2021


Robert Ukeiley, Center for Biological Diversity, (720) 496-8568,
Liz Doherty, Sierra Club, (978) 578-3699,

Lawsuit Challenges Colorado’s Rubber-stamping of Air Pollution Permits for Oil, Fracked Gas Wells

DENVER— Conservation groups sued the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division today for issuing an air-pollution permit that will potentially allow thousands of new oil and fracked gas wells throughout the state.

The permit fails to consider whether air pollution from oil and fracked gas wells will create unsafe levels of pollution in the state’s communities, according to the lawsuit.

Those areas include the Metro Denver/North Front Range area, which has violated smog standards for more than 15 years, as well as Rocky Mountain National Park.

“Colorado’s rubber-stamping of thousands of fracking air permits for the past decade has come at a terrible price, triggering more asthma attacks in kids and stunting the growth of alpine wildflowers,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time to end what’s essentially been a free pass for the fossil fuel industry to pollute the air we all have to breathe.”

The permitting process also shuts people out by not allowing public comment on the dangers of specific oil and fracked gas well facilities. If this general permit is allowed to stand, vulnerable communities will have no voice when it comes to wells in their neighborhoods.

The permit also fails to require smokestack testing to see if oil and fracked gas meet air-pollution limits, even though Colorado requires tailpipe testing for cars.

“It’s disappointing that during a pandemic the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment is pumping out weak permits for fracking which puts out even more air pollution,” said Ramesh Bhatt, chair of the conservation committee of Colorado Sierra Club. “COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, and increased air pollution will only contribute to widespread sickness, suffering and even death. It’s well past the time for the Air Pollution Control Division to stand up to Big Oil and put an end to them dumping their pollution in our backyards.”

Those most at risk of getting sick from fracking air pollution include children, the elderly, people who exercise or work outdoors and people with asthma and other lung problems. Scientific studies have also found that air pollution increases the chances of people getting sick or dying from COVID-19.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club in Colorado state district court in Denver.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental organization with more than 3 million members and supporters working to safeguard the health of communities, protect wildlife, and preserve wild places through public education, lobbying, and litigation.