Report on AQCC meeting, 7/14/20

This report was submitted by Nancy York, Larimer Alliance member:

I attended the July 14, 2020 afternoon hearing with the new professional Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Just under 80 folks were in the zoom attendance. Tom Rhodes spoke factually and eloquently just before me as one of the last speakers of the session.

It was a positive experience hearing the concerns and aspirations of the majority of speakers advocated for protecting our health, addressing the climate crisis, and noting the economic consequences of O&G development. Anyone who needs and wants a little pickup should participate in the frequent future hearings. You can see the upcoming schedule and register to attend at this website: https://cogcc.state.co.us/#/home The next hearing will be July 28th.

The Rural and Urban divide became clearer as elected officials get to speak first. It was interesting to hear from a few rural communities and counties namely Silt, and Delta, Logan and Mesa counties. The dominate concern mentioned was the economic driver of oil & gas development, namely jobs and revenue for streets, schools and such. Mesa particularly mentioned liquified natural gas exports via Oregon to Japan. Dave Devanney representing the Western Colorado Alliance, having just moved from Battlement Mesa in Garfield County, noted that O&G had developed in that community and expressed concerns about the air and water pollution.

There was culturally diverse representation on the anti-fracking side. So many impassioned speakers from around the state, some as individuals and others representing organizations. 

It is an investment of time to participate but affirming to hear and to be in solidarity.

Now we must wait and see what actions this COGCC will take. I’m hopeful.

Introduction to the LArimer alliance Blog

Hello and welcome to the blog for the Larimer Alliance. I hope to explain briefly why the LA Steering Committee decided to start the blog, and what our hope and vision for it is. I will also introduce myself, Rick Casey, the webmaster and manager of our digital platform in general.

I’ve been involved in anti-fracking activism since 2011, when I lived in Lafayette, Colorado. I first heard about modern fracking around 2009, when it was starting in Pennsylvania. That was shortly after I started teaching environmental economics at Front Range Community College on the Larimer campus. At first, I thought the activity was going to be limited to the Marcellus shale region, which underlies western New York and Pennsylvania. But I soon started to hear about environmental issues cropping up here in Colorado; then Gasland was published in 2010, a third of which was filmed in our state, some in Weld County. That documentary kind of blew the lid off the fracking issue, and soon became a nationwide phenomenon.

So, when I heard about a group that was forming in Lafayette, East Boulder County United (EBCU), my concerns about fracking became personal. It had become clear that fracking could happen within the city limits; it might even be done right next to peoples’ homes and schools. I plunged into volunteering for EBCU, and we soon concluded that the best way to proceed was to ask the city council to issue a ban. When they refused, we decided to start a campaign to put a ban to a vote. We worked hard through 2012, collected the necessary number of signatures, and the Lafayette Community Rights Act passed by over 60 per cent on November 5, 2013. It was a celebratory night, and we felt rightly justified; we had banned fracking in Lafayette, even over the opposition of our city council. Not only that, we elected two new candidates to that city council who backed our platform.

Our celebration was short-lived: within a month, the city of Lafayette was sued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) that state law pre-empted the town from being able to pass such a ban. And six months later, in August 2014, a Boulder County district judge agreed with them, and the ban was declared illegal. Although we were certainly disappointed, I and the other members of EBCU were proud of our accomplishment, and for having raised the level of awareness of our community to the threat to our health and environment. We all learned a lot, and though most of the original founding members have gone their separate ways, the website, www.eastbocounited.org, is still going strong, and has certainly played a part in the considerable force in Boulder County that has been working against fracking ever since.

What my experience with EBCU proved to me is the power of motivated citizens to inspire their community to take political action, and that change is entirely possible. It also convinced me of the power and need for an effective digital platform to communicate your organization’s message. I have been honored to help build our website, but as the Larimer Alliance is now about a year old, our steering committee agreed that we need to take stock of where we now stand, and also to develop a better communication channel to our members.

Hence this blog. After moving to Fort Collins in 2018, I was looking to contribute to local community activism efforts; and volunteered to set up the website when the Larimer Alliance was getting organized in August 2019. We have some talented and experienced members on our Steering Committee who will be contributing articles. More than just personal stories like mine above, we hope to be able to keep our members informed about what is happening in the complicated landscape of oil and gas regulation here in the county, at the state level, and even how selected national and international developments in oil and gas industry can affect us locally. I would also stress the Alliance is not trying to perpetuate itself indefinitely; I hope we will see the day when we bring enough change to regulation of the oil and gas industry to the point where we feel safe, and can disband the Alliance.

I would also stress that anyone in our community is welcome to join us in any way they can. If you are interested in posting to this blog, for instance, just send an email to [email protected]; or if you simply want to make a comment, please do!