Welcome to our weekly blog – straight from the mind of our PIFP  Communications & Organizing Fellow, Axum Teklu. Each week she’ll let you check in on what she thought were the big events in our Denver office and where we’re going next. Enjoy!


That is about the number of breaths we each individually take everyday. We don’t have to mentally set reminders to breathe, our bodies do it for us. So, while it’s a relief we don’t have to think about making sure 23,040 breaths happen everyday, we do have to think about what it is we’re breathing in.

The room was packed for the monthly Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) meeting last week. One by one, the 14 citizens who came to speak before the commission all urged for stronger rules to keep Colorado’s air clean. Backgrounds ranged from scientist, mom, pastor, public servant, young activists, health professional, and directly affected gas patch neighbors.

oct 2013 aqcc meeting

What’s so important about these rules you might ask? The AQCC has the chance to protect our Colorado air by drafting strong regulations on pollution emitted by oil and gas development.

The wells, storage, and transportation portion of oil and gas produces 168,837 tons of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) per year and is the number one human-caused VOC emitter. The combination of these VOCs with heat from the sun causes ground-level ozone, which negatively affects our health. During the AQCC public comments, a volunteer from the American Lung Association and National Jewish expressed that Colorado cannot let the ozone problem get any worse.

I wholeheartedly agree; our current state’s air quality concerns me and I, as well as many other concerned Coloradans, won’t be able to rest easy until appropriate protections have been put in place.

In addition to scientific evidence of ozone and the negative health effects, during the meeting different voices also expressed worry that our economy would be disturbed. A mom, Andrea Roy fears that if Colorado is associated with pollution, the economy will suffer. Colorado is known for its clean Rocky Mountain air, let’s keep it that way. Faith Winter, Westminster city council member, mentioned a good economy is not one that caters to one industry, but one that keeps Colorado a great place to live and breathe.

Seeing ozone alert after ozone alert on the news doesn’t make me proud to call Colorado home. During the meeting last week I could hear the fear and worry in peoples’ voices as they pleaded for the commission to protect their health and most of all their childrens’. But I also heard the pride people have in Colorado – our love of our mountains, our clean air and water and our unique quality of life.

Governor Hickenlooper previously stated that he believes there should be a zero tolerance standard for methane emissions and I stand behind his statement but actions speak louder than words. Come this winter, Coloradans across the state will be listening and expecting strong air quality rules, let’s hope Gov. Hickenlooper and the AQCC support these common-sense protections.

Colorado Air Infographic Small