Response from Council Candidate Susan Gutowsky

District One Candidate Susan Gutowsky provided this response to our questionnaire:

Thank you for your leadership in Fort Collins and your commitment and dedication to seek the office of Mayor and City Council.  We look forward to your responses.

  1. Have you received, will you accept, or will you refuse to accept campaign contributions from donors and companies from the O&G industry or with strong financial interests in O&G development? If your campaign has already accepted O&G donations will it give them back? Please explain. 
  • No, I have not received nor would I accept a campaign contribution from donors and companies from the O&G industry.
  1. SB19-181 substantially revised Colorado’s law governing O&G development: establishing clear priority to protect public health, safety, environment, and wildlife resources. SB181 also provides for significant local government authority to regulate O&G development, allowing local governments to increase protection of public health, safety, environment and wildlife resources beyond state minimum standards.

Do you think that Fort Collins should adopt new regulations for O&G development? If yes, what scope of regulations will you advocate the City to adopt?  

  • The City of Fort Collins should adopt regulations including but not limited to 2500 foot setbacks on all schools, residences, medical facilities.
  • Halt new oil and gas applications
  • Disallow re-fracks
  • Require some form of bond or cash deposit from existing oil and gas operators to finance future clean up or other responsibilities necessary due to current or abandoned well operation or retirement that protects the environment, municipality, State, and citizens from harm.

A substantial body of peer-reviewed scientific research shows significant negative health impacts from close proximity to O&G operations.

Do you support a 2000’ or 2500’ setback from homes, schools & their playgrounds, high occupancy buildings, outdoor recreation areas (such as parks and trails), and water sources from new O&G operations? Please explain. 

  • Yes, I do support that. Given that our City voted for a 5-year moratorium on fracking pending the results of studies regarding the health impacts of fracking and we now have a body of peer-reviewed research showing that it is harmful. We should not be allowing new permit applications. Furthermore, at this point, given our water shortages and transition to renewable energy, I see no reason why we should allocate resources to Oil & Gas. We should focus on the future of energy in our City.

Fort Collins currently has a reverse setback of 500’ for new residential construction from existing O&G facilities, and allows exceptions for reduced reverse setbacks.

Do you support increasing the reverse setback without exception? Please explain.

  • Yes, the reverse setback should be the same as any other setback. For example, the setbacks are increased to 2500 ft. a reverse setback should be the same.  This is about public health and safety not profit or affordable housing.
  1. The American Lung Association gives Fort Collins’ air quality an “F” grade, and ranks it the 19th worst out of 229 American cities. NCAR’s FRAPPÉ study found conclusively that O&G emissions are the major driver of unhealthy air quality in the northern Front Range. Emissions from O&G operations also cause significant spikes in pollutants that impact 1) local areas in proximity to O&G sites and facilities, and 2) regional air quality harming entire Front Range communities. A growing number of local governments have undertaken air quality monitoring programs capable of measuring and reporting pollutants in real time, including signature pollutants emitted from O&G operations and facilities.

What do you think Fort Collins should do to address its air quality problem(s)?  

  • One of the things we need to do is focus very intensely on building out our multimodal transportation options to get people out of their cars. We can control that.
  • We need to work through intergovernmental programs to incentivise the use of solar energy. It should be as easy to transfer the monthly payment between owners as utility bills and should not count against their debt to income ratio.  If we can help with that as a municipality we should. Likewise, we should do the same thing for backup power technology like solar walls (batteries) to ensure homeowners can have power to heat their homes whether the sun is shining or not.

Would you support 24/7 monitoring and real-time reporting of air quality and emissions at all O&G sites and facilities in proximity to Fort Collins? Should this monitoring and reporting be paid for by the operator? Please explain.

  • Yes, I would support 24/7 real time monitoring of air quality and emissions at all O&G sites and facilities in proximity to Fort Collins. Operators should be responsible for their own overhead and it is their responsibility to protect public ehealth and safety if they wish to do business in our city.

Would you support 24/7 monitoring and real-time reporting of air quality and signature O&G pollutant emissions for addressing regional air quality problems affecting Fort Collins? Should this regional monitoring and reporting be paid for by the O&G industry? Please explain.

  • Yes for the same reason stated above.

Would you support collaboration by Fort Collins with other Front Range communities in taking legal action against polluters responsible for emissions that harm Fort Collins air quality, such as polluters in neighboring counties? Please explain.

  • I as a single council person would not be able to make that decision.  
  1. Fort Collins is one of four municipalities that own and govern the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) which provides electricity to the four municipalities including Fort Collins. In 2019, PRPA committed to achieving 100% clean energy generation by 2030. PRPA recently adopted a plan that includes building and operating a new natural gas-powered turbine around the same time it retires its Rawhide Coal Plant, which will be in conflict with PRPA’s stated commitment to 100% clean energy.

Would you support holding PRPA to the goal of 100% clean energy by 2030? Please explain.

  • Yes, it is imperative that we do so.

Would you support requiring PRPA to establish and report with interim targets (such as for 2023, 2025, 2027) for achieving 100% clean energy? Please explain.

  • Yes, it’s important that we know how we are doing so that we can make adjustments along the way to ensure that we meet our goals. What we do not want to happen is to get down the road, realize we are not on target then not have enough time to course correct in order to meet the goal.
  1. An investment company is advancing a proposal to drill hundreds of wells in northern Larimer County which could negatively impact local residents, air quality, City-owned natural area and wildlife, and the environment in northern Larimer County.

Would you take a strong position for the City to actively oppose this type of O&G development? Please explain.

  • Absolutely. For all of the reasons stated above. 

https://www.susan-gutowsky.com/

 

LARIMER ALLIANCE AND LOGIC ACTION ANNOUNCE JOINT ENDORSEMENT OF JENI ARNDT FOR MAYOR OF FORT COLLINS

The Larimer Alliance submitted questions on two separate occasions to all the candidates running for Mayor of the City of Fort Collins City in the election on April 6, 2021. The questionnaire covered a range of topics related to oil and gas regulation and other environmental issues, and can be viewed under this same category here. LOGIC Action also conducted its own survey of the candidates on these topics as well as a careful look at their record.

Based upon a combination of the candidate responses we received and their public record on the issues, the Larimer Alliance and LOGIC Action are endorsing Jeni Arndt, currently seated as Colorado State Representative for District 53, to serve as Mayor of Fort Collins. 

Additionally, we stand ready to assist in helping educate and collaborate with the future city council and Mayor as the City of Fort Collins develops its own regulations on oil and gas development within the city to ensure strong protections for the health and safety of all Fort Collins residents, the environment, and wildlife, in accordance with the law. We also look forward to working with them on other related environmental issues.

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.

LOGIC Action supports and assists oil and gas impacted Coloradans and our allies with education, community organizing, technical resources, and financial support. We use all available tools to support, enable, and advocate for impacted Coloradan to move Colorado toward a future independent of fossil fuels.

Both the Larimer Alliance and LOGIC Action are 501c4 organizations.

LARIMER ALLIANCE ANNOUNCES ENDORSEMENTS IN FORT COLLINS CITY COUNCIL RACE

 

The Larimer Alliance submitted questions on two separate occasions to all the candidates running for Fort Collins City Council seats in District One, District Three, District Four, and District Five, which are open for election on April 6, 2021. The questionnaire covered a range of topics related to oil and gas regulation and other environmental issues, and can be viewed under this same category here.

Based upon a combination of the candidate responses we did receive and their public record on the issues, the Larimer Alliance is endorsing the following candidates: 

  • District One: Susan Gutowsky
  • District Three: Tricia Canonico
  • District Four: Melanie Potyondy
  • District Five: Kelly Ohlson 

Additionally, we stand ready to assist in helping educate and collaborate with the future city council as the City of Fort Collins develops its own regulations on oil and gas development within the city to ensure strong protections for the health and safety of all Fort Collins residents, the environment, and wildlife, in accordance with the law. We also look forward to working with them on other related environmental issues.

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.

 

Comment to BOCC 3/16/2021

Dear Commissioners,

Something has come to my attention and I want you to know about it, if you don’t already. I was looking at the wells in Northern Larimer County while on the COGCC website and I found something very concerning. I have added the screen shots below for you. You can see the dotted black line at the border of Larimer County and Weld County and the yellow areas where Fort Collins and Wellington are located on this map. It shows many lakes and ponds located in northeast Larimer County. Many of these lakes, I believe, are used for irrigation. They’re also used by livestock and wildlife and the groundwater supports the huge cottonwoods in this area.

The next screen shot is the same location but this time I selected the “Specified Area CDPHE Regulation 42” option and this is what I saw.

The CDPHE Regulation 42 Specified Area was defined in 1999 by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) and the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC). They ruled that the ground water in this area was, in their words, “a waste” and not expected to be used in the future for domestic or agricultural purposes.  This ruling allows the exclusion of the groundwater throughout this entire area from even basic protection from pollutants associated with the exploration, development, or production of crude oil and natural gas.

According to this ruling, Tables 1- 4 of the Basic Standards for Ground Water, 41.0 do not apply for this area. Additionally, the groundwater organic chemical standards included in Table A of Section 41.5.C.3 of the Basic Standards for Ground Water (5 CCR 1002-41) for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, and benzo(a)pyrene do not apply to oil and gas producing formations within this specified area. Then, last year during the pandemic the Water Quality Control Commission published the following ruling:

42.38 STATEMENT OF BASIS, SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY AND PURPOSE: APRIL 13, 2020 RULEMAKING; FINAL ACTION MAY 11, 2020; EFFECTIVE DATE JUNE 30, 2020

This new ruling is the same old ruling from 1999 but in this one, the Water Quality Control Commission attempts to justify this new ruling by saying this only applies to certain geological formations in the ground and not surface water.

What this ruling did was open this entire area to be used as a dumping ground for toxic produced water that comes out of fracked wells. There is no guarantee that the produced water these companies are injecting into wells in this area are not connected to surface water somewhere. Concrete used in these wells fail often so there is a high potential for aquafers in the area to be contaminated.

Commissioners, I implore you to question these rulings and demand that this polluting of our natural resources is stopped. How can we allow these beautiful lakes, wetlands, and grassland areas to become permanently polluted with toxic hydrocarbons, radioactive materials and other harmful compounds?

Thank you so much for your time and attention.

Lori Brunswig

Fort Collins, CO

(Please see the current ruling on page 175 at the following link.)

https://www.sos.state.co.us/CCR/GenerateRulePdf.do?ruleVersionId=8815&fileName=5%20CCR%201002-42