DENVER (AP) — Colorado is working through a backlog of applications for air pollution permits for oil and natural gas facilities.

The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division has been getting about 225 applications per month, division director Will Allison said. He estimated the number of applications coming in is up 70 percent from 2008, amid growth in oil and gas exploration in Colorado.

Allison said Monday about 1,800 permits are waiting to be assigned to an engineer, down from a peak of about 2,000 last year. “We’re making steady progress,” he said.

The goal now is to address a backlog of about 700 applications by the end of February and to be caught up by the end of the year, though that will depend on staffing and the volume of applications that keep coming in, he said.

Six temporary engineers have been helping with the work load, but their contracts will have ended around the end of the year. “We’ll need to look at long-term solutions for long-term staffing,” Allison said.

Colorado Public News first reported the backlog.

Despite the number of air pollution permit applications, Allison didn’t foresee any applications being turned aside over concerns of too many emissions.

“We, in conjunction with the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, have a robust regulatory scheme in place to address emissions from these operations,” Allison said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in the midst of crafting standards for reducing air pollution from oil and gas drilling operations. A final rule is expected in April.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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