Environmental Commission looks forward

Southern Ute Environmental Programs Division Head, Mark Hutson meets with members of regional committee — The Southern Ute Indian Tribe/State of Colorado Environmental Commission to discuss environmental policy. 
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum


The Southern Ute Indian Tribe/State of Colorado Environmental Commission came together to discuss regulations, compliance and a cleaner future for resident of Southwest Colorado, Wednesday April 11 — Ignacio, Colo.

The key point of discussion brought forth for consideration by the commission involved the minor source program and how it is implemented. This is a program currently operated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but the responsibility could be assumed by the commission if they were to proceed to adopt the program.

“We really are exploring the pro’s and con’s,” stated Southern Ute Environmental Programs Division Head Mark Hutson. Hutson went on to explain that if the EPA gave the program over to the Tribe, the cost of operation would be a non-issue, principally due to grant money available for the program. The Tribe has a role in providing data to the EPA, and the minor source program works well as a FIP, or Federal Implementation Plan — if the Tribe assumed the program, it could be tailored to better meet the regional needs.

The commission will meet again later in the year to evaluate those needs and weigh the benefits. “The program could become more protective of the environment then the current program, while also becoming more user friendly for industry,” explained Southern Ute Air Quality Program Manager Danny Powers. The Tribal Implementation Plan (TIP) could use a more scientifically based approach for tracking minor source pollutants, where oil and gas operators take credit for actual emissions, rather than having those emission based on estimates.

Environmental Commission Chairman, Karen Spray announced her retirement after years of service as a member of the commission and an employee of The Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Peter Butler was appointed as the new chairman for the commission. The commission will reconvene in Ignacio, August 8, to further discuss the minor source program and give updates.

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