All posts by Ed Behan

MY REMARKS AT FRACK OF THE STATE, FRACK OF THE CLIMATE EVENT ON BEHALF OF THE LARIMER ALLIANCE, JANUARY 17, 2023

Good morning, people. My name is Ed Behan and I am with the Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety, & the Environment.

Yesterday there were many celebrations of the life and times of the late, great Martin Luther King, Jr, and his lifelong quest for social justice. And now here we are demanding environmental justice. This is sometimes dismissed as not being a related issue. However I don’t think I need to remind folks that the efforts of Cultivando, the community around the Bella Romero Academy, and tribal groups who resisted the Dakota Access Pipeline and other extractive incursions on native lands, only serve to demonstrate that the issues are intertwined and always have been.

Three years ago, with the passage of Senate Bill 19-181, this State made the remarkable first step of reordering the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to prioritize the protection of our communities’ health, our safety, and our environment.

The Larimer Alliance has advocated for improved local regulation under the mandate of that legislation, as well as lobbied at the State level during rulemaking processes.

We are all here to mark progress made. . . but also to mark that the first step taken has been a stumbling one at best. While new rules have been enacted, and new monitoring standards have been crafted, it is clear that everything from bureaucratic inertia to outright discouragement of effective enforcement has hindered our progress. This legislature has the opportunity and the duty to correct that and keep us moving forward.

Today, as in his inaugural speech last week, the governor is supposed to reaffirm his commitment to Colorado achieving the goal of having its energy needs met by 100 % renewable sources by 2040. But you all have seen the figures, you know the reality of the thousands of oil and gas permits that have been approved since he took office in 2019, and the hundreds more in the permitting pipeline. I’ll take a leap here, give Mr. Polis the benefit of the doubt, and assume we achieve the goal of Colorado’s energy needs being carbon free by the goal date. . . but where is all this oil and gas that is being developed going? I assure you, if it is not being burned here in Colorado, it is being burned somewhere else. And my friends. . . THAT AIN’T CARBON NEUTRAL!

WE ALL KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, AND WE NEED TO HOLD OUR LEADERS ACCOUNTABLE TO SEE THAT IT HAPPENS. THANK YOU.

LETTER TO LOVELAND COUNCIL MEMBER ANDREA SAMSON FROM ALLIANCE SUPPORTER NANCY GARCIA ON CENTERRA DRILLING PROPOSALS

ONE OF OUR SUPPORTS IN LOVELAND SENT THE FOLLOWING LETTER TO HER CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, ANDREA SAMSON, REGARDING THE ISSUES SURROUNDING PROPOSED DRILLING NEAR CENTERRA BY THE MC WHINNEY DEVELOPMENT GROUP:

January 12, 2023

Dear Andrea,

Economic growth in the City of Loveland is bound by a Uniform Development Code (18.01.01.02) designed to promote public health, safety, and the general welfare.  Allowing hydraulic fracturing in the Centerra Region of Loveland violates this code and the city’s comprehensive plan.  Below are just some of the ways that fracking is NOT compatible with the Uniform Code.

Code: Promote economic opportunity, encourage investment, and promote property values.

Reality: The Oil and Gas Industry provides less than 1% of the states total employment but is projected to cost $1.36 billion annually in damages to the environment. That is 1.5 times the total taxes and fees oil and gas brings to the state. (CO Fiscal Institute, 2022).  Property values decline in areas polluted by  noise, heavy large vehicle traffic, and toxic air caused by invisible fracking gas leaks verified by infrared cameras. (Earthworks, 2022) More and more property owners in Centerra are voicing their concerns and protesting the planned 26 wells that they want stopped. (multiple dates, Loveland Reporter Herald.)

Code: Promote good civic design and site layout.

Reality: Loveland allows reverse setbacks that allow drilling only 300 feet from businesses that employ people such as wholesale nurseries, storage yards, heavy industry, composting facilities, and essential utility facilities. Residential development other than high occupancy buildings is located only 500 feet from an existing oil and gas facility. (City of Loveland Planning Division).  A majority of members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission say “All homes and schools in Colorado should be protected from new oil and gas drilling by a 2,000-foot buffer or setback – four times the current standard for urban areas”. (The Colorado Sun, 9-9-20) In areas with dense oil and gas site layout we see lower birth weights, more children with congenital heart defects, and more childhood cancers. (CU Anschutz Professor Lisa McKenzie). Being close to drilling sites is also dangerous for the elderly and those with breathing issues.

Code: Promote fiscally responsible infrastructure and services.

Reality:  The Oil and Gas industry has tens of thousands of orphaned wells that could cost tax payers billions of dollars to clean up. In addition to the financial burden “all of the science indicates that the dangerous gases that spew from wells are major contributors to climate change.” (Joe Salazar, Colorado Rising, 8-31-21). Climate caused disasters alone have cost the state between $20 billion and $50 billion since 1980. (Colorado Fiscal Institute)

Code: Lessen the risk of flood, fire, panic, and other dangers.

Reality: Fracking poses unique dangers to residential areas by subjecting families to known carcinogens like benzene.  In 2017 fracking gases in Firestone combusted violently in a home causing serious injuries and 2 deaths. “Forced pooling” has allowed gas companies to annex mineral rights and drill beneath homes without the owner’s consent. Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions, like methane, contribute to severe weather leading to floods and wildland fires.

Code: Promote the conservation of energy, water, and environmental resources.

Reality: Fracking is a water intensive industrial process. It uses, 1.5 million to 16 million gallons of water per well, according to the United States Geological Survey.<https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/how-much-water -does-typical-hydraulically-fractured-well-require__;!!HxSnvVm2WdNPEuU!rxwQM 2UytYawcVsFzHuVsPQh0pU4UIuY7unoMMcHMeGLKizQC9rLqOym5M-3MoidYtBPjn1HC7Uy0RVe3fj0kjSXBXEpbnsdgItRO70$>

We don’t get that polluted water back and we’re currently in a 1200 year drought.

Code: Promote the use of renewable energy.

Reality: To curb our climate crisis, we need to end our dependence on fossil fuels. That may have seemed far-fetched a decade ago given the cost of installing wind and solar at the time, but in 10 years, the price of solar electricity dropped 89%, and the price of onshore wind dropped 70%. (Rocky Mountain Institute, 2019). Continued use of fossil fuels is expensive and unnecessary.

Please consider the future of our city and adherence to the Uniform Development Code as you make your decision about allowing fracking in Centerra. For everyone’s health, safety, and the general welfare city leaders owe it to its citizens to not permit fracking within city limits.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Nancy Garcia,

Ward 2 Loveland

NANCY RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING REPLY FROM LOVELAND CITY COUNCILMEMBER ANDREA SAMSON:

Nancy,

Thank you for your email and the thorough, comprehensive and specific information you provided. I appreciate you taking the time to break each issue down and to relate it to code compliance with the examples directly from our code.

I have copied city manager Steve Adams and city attorney Moses Garcia in my response so that your email can be included in any information presented to council and/or planning commission in the event this issue comes before Council.

Thank you again, very much,

Andrea Samson

Loveland City Council

Ward 2

Letter submitted by Larimer Alliance and other allied groups to Fort Collins City Council regarding draft oil and gas regulations

The following letter was submitted to Fort Collins City Council regarding the pending draft regulations for oil and gas development within the context of the evolving Land Development Code. It has been signed by the Larimer Alliance, Sierra Club Poudre Canyon Group, 350 Colorado, and the Fort Collins Sustainability Group. If you hover your cursor over the bottom of the first page, you will see arrow prompts to access the rest of the pages.

Joint-Env-Org-OG-Reg-Ltr-to-FC-City-Council-FINAL12-17-2022

A Summary of the Fort Collins City Council deliberations over draft Oil & Gas Regulations

The following summary was prepared by Rick Casey with input from others who attended the Fort Collins City Council meeting on December 20, when the first reading of revised draft oil and gas regulations took place. I will let Rick’s excellent account speak for itself:

This is a quick summary of the city council meeting I attended,  where the first reading of the proposed O&G regulations was discussed. Kevin Cross asked if I could write this up, so I did.

Two other members of the Larimer Alliance (LA) attended (Ed Behan and John McDonagh), as well as Kevin Cross (KC), who presented on behalf of the FCSG. Another woman, Barbara Goldman, also spoke to the regulations on her own behalf. She urged the Council to simply ban all O&G activity within city limits.

After waiting for the agenda item to come up at around 7pm, the three Larimer Alliance members all spoke against it, mostly on the basis of the approval process being too compressed for meaningful public participation. On behalf of the FCSG, KC said much the same, and also mentioned the lack of financial assurance in them, in order to guarantee the O&G operator will be able to properly plug and abandon the well at its end of life. Lamentably, public commenters were limited to two minutes each, hardly enough time to make a meaningful comment. 

Once public comment was done, two city staff members who have worked on the issue briefed the Council. They showed a map that illustrated how much land will be “drillable” under the new regs (which is quite limited), and reviewed, in fair detail but quickly, the work that staff had done on this issue up to this point. Council members then commented on the proceedings. 

The Council approved the first reading, but delayed the second reading until April 4, 2023. I assume this means that revisions to the regulations can still be made, but I don’t know how much public input will be possible.

In hindsight, the LA felt satisfied that their detailed critique of the first draft of the regulations had been well considered by city staff, which resulted in the second draft, published prior the meeting. 

The video recording can be seen here: 

Fort Collins City Council Meeting 12/20/22

The LA Steering Committee will be considering its options in the meantime. 

— Rick

(Footnote: the comments made by representatives of the Larimer Alliance, Fort Collins Sustainability Group, and other community members appear around 1:56:35 in the recording)