DENVER (AP) — Colorado regulators looking at new air quality rules for oil and gas drillers are getting more time to set the rules.

Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission originally aimed to have new proposed air-quality rules by November. At a regular meeting Thursday, the commission talked about extending negotiations on the air-quality rules until next February.

There was no immediate explanation for the delay. But in a Tuesday letter giving commissioners more time on the panel, Gov. John Hickenlooper called the work a "significant undertaking."

A spokesman for the commission, Christopher Dann, said the delay is a good sign that the industry is working with environmental activists to craft new regulations.

"We need a little more time to further refine the proposal. We further believe all parties will benefit from the extension," Dann said in an email.

Environmental activists have been hoping the commission is stricter on the industry than the agency that regulates spills, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. The Air Quality Control Commission is part of the state health department.

The air quality panel is considering new rules including tighter emission controls on storage tanks and expanding pollution control requirements that currently apply in Front Range communities.

Hickenlooper appointed the air quality commissioners and extended the terms of four of the panel's nine members. The governor did not say how much longer the commission would need to finish its work, and a spokesman for the state health department did not confirm a delay.

The Denver Post reported last month that oil and gas emissions now are the main source of volatile organic compounds in Colorado and the third-largest source of nitrogen oxides.


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