Larimer alliance endorses Kristin stephens and jody shadduck-mcnally for larimer board of county commisioners

     The Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety & the Environment is a coalition of Northern Colorado citizens and groups committed to protecting Larimer County from harm by oil and gas development.  We aim to educate the public and ensure that local and state governments develop and implement policies that prioritize the protection of public health and safety, environmental quality, wildlife resources, and the integrity of public lands, in accordance with Colorado law.  

     The Larimer Alliance submitted questions on two separate occasions to all the candidates (Jody Shadduck-McNally, Kristin Stephens, Ben Aste and Bob McCluskey) running for The Larimer County Board of County Commissioners. We have posted their replies or lack thereof (see here).  We appreciate the participation and responses from Jody Shadduck-McNally, Kristin Stephens and Ben Aste. 

Based on these responses from the candidates and their other public statements, we proudly endorse Kristin Stephens (District 2 seat) and Jody Shadduck-McNally (District 3 seat) to be the next Larimer County Commissioners.  

     Additionally, we stand ready to assist in helping educate and rewrite the recently adopted Larimer County Oil & Gas regulations (see this page on the Larimer Alliance website), that are woefully inadequate protections for the health and safety of all Larimer County residents, the environment and wildlife, in accordance with the law.

update on today’s COGCC hearing (10/13/20)

This update on today’s hearing at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is to let you know the commissioners did vote to continue. . . that’s bureaucrat speak for postpone. . . the hearing until November 10 at 1:00 PM. Again, as indicated in a previous email, this was because of a motion on the part of the O&G industry and their friendly local governments to hold off on the hearing because of some draft changes released on Friday October 9 that they felt required further study and preparation.

A response to that request was posted by a range of wildlife and habitat advocates as well as many of our noted allies such as the Sierra Club and LOGIC, indicating they saw no need for the continuance. Commissioner Robbins expressed some skepticism about the requested delay, because he thought some of the draft changes staff had prepared actually played to their advantage, but in the interest of “doing things right” accepted staff recommendations to accept the motion to continue, and the commission voted accordingly. Interesting process…. 


We will update on Zoom log-in protocols as they become available, but the commissioners and staff indicated that anyone who had signed up for public comment today will be registered for the November 10 session. They also stated they would set up an evening session for those who find it difficult to make the daytime sessions because of work or other commitments. They will communicate with those already signed up to speak to get their preference for the day or evening sessions. 


As ever, we in the Larimer Alliance will continue to keep you all advised of further developments. 


O&G Threat to National forests

Public comment is being accepted until Nov. 2, 2020 regarding a proposed policy change that would expedite the process of granting drilling permits in our National Forests. This is important because it will potentially affect federally managed forests across the nation, including many in our own state, and yet a preliminary comment period, which took place a year ago, garnered only 91 comments. Below is a sample letter followed by instructions for how to access the government website that will give you more information about the proposed policy change and allow you to submit your own comment.

I live in Fort Collins, Colorado.  For more than a month, the air quality here has swayed back and forth between poor and dangerous.  My husband made a trip to the ER because of shortness of breath.  My daughter and son-in-law check air quality reports before taking their infant son out for a walk.  We are stuck inside our homes because we are stuck between two major sources of air pollution:  wildfires in forests to the west and ozone producing fracking operations to the east.  The proposed rule is likely to exacerbate both of these threats to the “public interest.”

The proposal states:

It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation’s vast energy resources while preserving the surface resources of national forests and grasslands.

This statement, if applied to oil and gas extraction, is an oxymoron.  Living in a region that has been intensively exploited by hydraulic fracturing, I am acutely aware of the fact that it is a process that is never “clean” and that is frequently dangerous and destructive.  Spills, leaks, unexpected releases of toxic emissions, fires and explosions are frequent occurrences even while industry representatives assure the public that they are applying extreme caution and best practices in all their operations.

A policy that attempts to subsume permits for drilling in National Forests under the more generalized process for BLM lands ignores the distinctive nature of forests.  In addition to providing recreation and habitat for wildlife, forests absorb carbon, regulate climate, and are critical for maintaining water resources.

We have wildfires to the west of us and to the north of us.  As of September 25th there were 1,500 wildfires currently active across the western united states.  There is a connection between these fires and oil and gas extraction—climate change.  The consequences of excessive reliance on fossil fuels are negatively impacting our lives today.  Continued dependence on oil and gas does not line up with increased “national security.” What we need are policies that protect our National Forests from the private exploitation that is robbing the general population of our most important national resources: clean air and clean water.

Once the fires are extinguished and air quality improves, we will then have to worry about our water supply.  The mountains, where many of these fires have been burning, is our watershed.  Denuded hillsides are susceptible to erosion.  The water never has a chance to sink into aquifers; it races away and leaves land that is already stressed by drought without the water we need to drink, to grow crops, to survive.

According to the proposed rule:

Section 2 of E.O. 13783 directs agencies to review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law.

The production and use of domestic energy resources has not been “unduly burdened.”  Quite the contrary.  This is an industry that has been coddled and that burdens the public by refusing to assume responsibility for the negative externalities it has imposed on society and the economy.  It is an industry that has burdened tax-payers with subsidies.  It has burdened the public with negative health impacts, with the pollution of our air and water, with abandoned infrastructure that will impose risks well into the future as pipes corrode and cement deteriorates, and above all it has burdened us all by tenaciously pushing forward its own private-profit-focused agenda even while knowing that this would lead to global climate change. 

Responsible governance for today and for the future will require renewed commitment to protecting  forests and other public lands.  There is little advantage to “streamlining” a process that leads to destruction and degradation of the land, air and water that sustain us all.  We are rapidly finding other ways of meeting the energy needs of the country, but clean air and water are non-negotiable and irreplaceable. 

I strongly urge that the proposed rule change be denied.

COMMENT NOW!

Electronically: Via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter 0596-AD33, which is the RIN for this proposed rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rule link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”

Mail: Send written comments to USDA-Forest Service. Attn: Director-MGM Staff, 1617 Cole Boulevard, Building 17, Lakewood, CO 80401.

350 colorado calls the polis GHG roadmap insufficient — and we agree!

During this summer of extreme fire throughout the west, and the Cameron Peak fire still raging on our western horizon, keeping the air in Fort Collins air hazardous to breathe and raining ash upon us, we all know the immediacy of climate change. It is not some future event: it is here and now.

Accordingly, the anticipation was great for leadership from the Polis administration to make progress on this pressing issue; unfortunately, the governor is coming up short.

After two years with great opportunities for significant action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Polis administration is not meeting the public’s expectations or the law’s requirements.

The Larimer Alliance pays close attention to news from other environmental organizations with more resources, and better access to fast moving information; so with this post we wish to call your attention to the following press release from 350 Colorado, which came out Oct 1, 2020, in reaction to the much anticipated “GHG Pollution Reduction Roadmap.” The release speaks for itself, and contains yet more links to given an in-depth reasoning to its calling out our state leaders to take further action — because action on climate change can’t wait:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 1, 2020

Contact: Micah Parkin, micah@350colorado.org, 504 258 1247

Michaela Mujica-Steiner, michaela@350colorado.org, 720-365-4860

***PRESS RELEASE***

Colorado Energy Office Releases Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap

Climate movement groups say the plan is insufficient to adequately address the climate crisis 

DENVER, CO – Yesterday the Colorado Energy Office released its plan for how the state intends to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals established by House Bill 19-1261. This legislation requires a 26% reduction in GHG emissions by 2025, a 50% reduction by 2030, and a 90% reduction by 2050. The 2019 legislation aimed to address Colorado’s contribution to the climate crisis and curb emissions that not only contribute to climate change, but also adversely impact air quality and contribute pollution harmful to respiratory health. 

350 Colorado, which is the largest Colorado-based organization focused on the climate crisis, says that the proposed Colorado GHG Reduction Roadmap released on Sept. 30th is a start, but to achieve the goals of HB 19-1261 and eventually more aggressive goals that climate science and justice demand, more specific policies and enforcement will be needed. 

“The droughts and wildfires that have turned our skies orange are a reminder that addressing the climate crisis and ensuring a habitable climate requires a transition off all fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” said Micah Parkin, Executive Director of 350 Colorado. 

Colorado has not met federal air quality standards for over a decade, and the AQCC has been sued by Wild Earth Guardians for failing to meet its July 1, 2020 deadline to provide notice of a plan to meet the state’s new GHG emissions reduction goals passed by the legislature. The state has the opportunity to address the required GHG emission reductions and improve the F-grade Front Range air quality through the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Roadmap. Yet in order to do this, activists say the Roadmap will have to incorporate far stronger sector-specific targets, policies and enforcement. 

“Despite the potential for bold climate action that the Roadmap represents, the protections and emission reduction goals laid out in the Roadmap must be more ambitious, equitable, quantifiable, and enforceable,” said 350 Colorado Oil and Gas Campaign Coordinator Michaela Mujica-Steiner. “Currently, the Roadmap doesn’t address development of enforceable measures to monitor and reduce emissions from oil and gas extraction. Having clear, enforceable limits for various sectors to reduce GHG emissions are necessary in order to lock in reductions, and there must be third party monitoring of emissions and meaningful consequences for polluters when proposed rules are violated.”

350 Colorado is also concerned that the current proposed plan in the Roadmap does not align with a 66% likelihood of achieving the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5℃, which requires 100% GHG emissions by 2036. In fact, they say the state is not even on track for a 50% chance of staying below the 1.5℃ threshold needed to avoid climate catastrophe. 

The group says that while the plan considers reducing upstream and downstream operation leak rates, it ignores the reality that adequately addressing climate change and ensuring a habitable climate requires a transition off of fossil fuels largely within this decade, including a rapid phase out of all new fossil fuel development.

“We are encouraged to see a commitment to a just transition away from coal toward a renewable energy future written into the Roadmap to support workers and frontline communities, and this just transition must be extended to all fossil fuels,” said Mujica-Steiner. “Additionally, the proposed emission reduction targets laid out in the Roadmap are far too low, especially in regard to the oil and gas sector, the electric sector, and the phase out of coal-fired power plants.” 

Currently, the Roadmap proposes 80% pollution reductions by 2030 compared to 2005 for the electric sector. For the oil and gas sector, the plan proposes a 33% reduction in emissions by 2025 and a 50% reduction by 2030. For both of these sectors, many activists say the plan falls short. 

350 Colorado instead calls for 70% emission reductions from the electric sector and a phase-out of all existing coal-fired power plants by 2025 and a 98% reduction by 2030, noting that electricity from renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels. They also recommend a 45% reduction in oil and gas emissions by 2025 and 90% reduction by 2030. In order to reach these goals, they strongly recommend a 10% per year reduction in new oil and gas permits, for a total phase out of permitting new wells by 2030. 

“We cannot continue to dig the hole deeper by continuing to permit additional new oil and gas development,” said Parkin. “The existing 80,000 wells in Colorado will leak increasingly over time as well casings break down. Meanwhile record numbers of fracking companies are going bankrupt and leaving us to pay to clean up orphaned and abandoned wells, so phasing out permitting of new wells will help protect our climate, health and taxpayer dollars.”

350 Colorado and other groups are also deeply concerned that the Roadmap does not start with an accurate baseline of emissions, especially methane from the oil and gas industry. Recent research on the air quality impacts of oil and gas development in Colorado indicates that methane emissions are likely 2-4 times higher than current industry estimates. Research from Cornell, Harvard and NASA shows a worrying spike in global methane emissions over the last decade from fracking in North America, primarily the U.S. Colorado is the sixth most fracked state. 350 Colorado, Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate, and Be the Change have all called for a more thorough GHG inventory using best available technologies, including top down atmospheric measurements of oil and gas basins and continuous emissions monitoring at all polluting sites, to be conducted by an independent third party, rather than industry self-reporting.

“Amidst wildfires, a statewide drought and serious air quality issues, there is no time to lose to begin making real progress toward taking bold climate action to ensure a liveable planet and future,” said Mujica-Steiner. 

###For the full statement from 350 Colorado, please visit https://350colorado.org/350-colorados-take-on-the-governors-roadmap/.  


Micah Parkin
350 Colorado, Executive Director
504-258-1247350 Colorado on Facebook
www.350Colorado.org