All posts by Ed Behan

COMMENTS TO BOCC ON O&G EMISSIONS NORTHEAST OF FORT COLLINS

On Tuesday, September 28, Doug Henderson delivered these remarks in the Administrative Matters meeting of the Larimer Board of County Commissioners. Tim Gosar, Gayla Martinez, Cory Caroll, and Jonathan Singer (LOGIC’s new executive director) also made comments to the Board:

Good morning Commissioners,

In a Tues morning BoCC meeting in June, we addressed the problem of
harmful, often illegal, emissions from oil & gas facilities – emissions
that damage people’s health, degrade air quality, and gravely harm our
planet’s climate.

We presented evidence about such emissions from a Prospect Energy
facility northeast of Fort Collins, including imaging of the emissions
taken by Earthworks in January and March 2021. A local resident also
told of his experience, health impacts, and harm suffered for years from
toxic emissions from this facility.

After the January investigation by Earthworks, a complaint was submitted
to the state, and Prospect subsequently said it had stopped the leaks
and emissions.

The next investigation in March showed that the facility was still
leaking, and another complaint was submitted to the state.

Prospect then actually made some repairs, and the leaks and emissions
stopped. At least temporarily.

But before long, local residents again were suffering from emissions
from this facility. So in early September, Earthworks investigated
again. Here is video from that investigation – which shows the facility
was leaking again
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAWHJ8CzY5E

The illegal emissions documented in January, March, and September this
year are not the first. CDPHE cited Prospect last November for
regulatory non-compliance and illegal emissions at this facility – for
violations documented in November 2018, June 2019, and October 2019.

(A copy of the letter from CDPHE to Prospect Energy is attached.)

Only 2 months after CDPHE’s warning letter to Prospect, Earthworks
documented the January 2021 violation. Then came more documented
violations – in March and again earlier this month.

A few weeks ago, Earthworks also documented illegal emissions from
another Prospect facility in the Hearthfire neighborhood
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC1anPkau_E

Unfortunately these emissions happen at O&G sites all the time. This is
oil & gas business as usual, how the industry has operated for decades.

Colorado law is clear: protection of public health holds priority in oil
& gas development. Larimer County’s oil & gas regulations uphold this law.

It is time to protect public health and the environment from these
harmful and illegal emissions.

It is also time to hold Prospect Energy fully accountable for its record
as a repeat violator.

Thank you for your attention to this.

Doug Henderson

Doug, along with our colleagues in Earthworks, has also been maintaining communication with Cassie Archuleta, Air Quality Program Manager for the City of Fort Collins, bringing attention to these sites Northeast of Fort Collins. Particular attention has been paid to one located near the Hearthfire neighborhood.

PEOPLE: WHERE DOES THE LARIMER ALLIANCE GO FROM HERE?

A version of the following was posted to our community and allies on September 7. Do fee free to comment. . . 

 

The Larimer Board of County Commissioners passed an amended set of regulations for oil and gas development in a marathon session on the night of Thursday, July 29th.

For over two years, the Larimer Alliance has worked to inform our members and community, rallying their support to key hearings at both the County and State level for improved regulation of this environmentally dangerous industry. The support and input of our membership and many allied groups have been key in securing improved regulations. . . which still leave much to be desired in terms of comprehensive protection.

The question is: Where do we go from here?

While it is clear the County Commissioners have paid attention to some of our concerns, there is much that needs to be done to ensure the regulations as they exist are enacted effectively, and to continue advocating for improvements to the regulation of oil and gas projects in Larimer County. 

What does our membership at large think of future activity on behalf of health and environmental protections in Larimer County? What elements of the new regulations concern you? What activity would you be interested in participating in to move the cause of environmental protections forward? What do you actually think of further activity in this regard?

We need to hear from you. . . and your HELP

in implementing your ideas going forward!

An ad hoc gathering of some of our steering committee has identified a few areas of potential activity, which we have listed below. But we wouldn’t be here without your interest and energy. . . and we need  your continued interest and energy to define and pursue the way forward! 

Suggested areas of focus:

  • Advocating at both the County level and with the City of Fort Collins for improved air quality monitoring, possibly using state and federal severance tax and mineral extraction proceeds to fund such stations.
  • Monitoring the implementation of the new State and County oil and gas regulations, including tracking the permit applications as they are filed and processed.
  • Monitoring the water quality issues associated with the “recycling” of “produced” (read: “waste”) water from drilling sites, assuring compliance with relevant State and Federal regulation.
  • Working alongside allied groups to encourage the Platte River Power Authority to stick to their commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2030, with no additional natural gas units.
  • Lobbying our State legislators for an expansion of the Office of Just Transition to ensure oil and gas workers displaced by shifts to renewable energy sources have opportunities to train for new jobs in an expanding green energy sector. 

These are only a few potential initiatives the Larimer Alliance

could pursue going forward from here. 

What do YOU think should be the vital point of focus?

 

As ever, we rely on the support and input

of our members and community!

For all you do, we thank you!

www.larimeralliance.org

Check on relevant events on our Calendar Page!

 

Larimer County has finally passed new Oil and Gas Regulations!

THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE WENT OUT AS AN EMAIL TO OUR COMMUNITY FOLLOWING PASSAGE OF NEW OIL AND GAS REGULATIONS IN LARIMER COUNTY BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS:

The Larimer Board of County Commissioners passed an amended set of regulations for oil and gas development in a marathon session on the night of Thursday, July 29th, a continuation of another hearing earlier that week. Our side made a good pitch for even stronger regulations, and the oil and gas opposition clearly indicated they wanted no further regulation whatsoever. 

The new regulations are clearly better than the weak set of rules passed by the previous, predominantly Republican Board in 2020. But we still find there are omissions in key protections for our communities, our environment, the county’s natural open lands, and critical wildlife habitat. Both Commissioners Jody Shadduck-McNally and Kristin Stephens submitted amendments to improve protections, particularly in regards to setting wider setbacks and keeping natural resources and forestry lands out of development. Significantly, Commissioner Stephens said this about the new regulations:

 “(I) wanted to make sure that we are protecting health and welfare and protecting our environment, which is so important here in Northern Colorado, I think that we’ve achieved that. We may not have created a perfect product. And the good thing about it is it’s not set in stone; this is something that we can revise and review periodically to make sure we have it right.”

In describing her “north star” in proposing amendments to the proposed regulations, Commissioner Shadduck-McNally stated:

“The question was not where the oil and gas facility is located … but whether any location proposed should be approved in the first place. I feel SB-181 gave us those tools to really use that north star to really take seriously this responsibility of not just current residents but future residents.”

See the attached transcripts of coverage from the Fort Collins Coloradoan and Loveland Reporter-Herald.

None of this would have happened without you!

The comments and messages you got into the County Commissioners in favor of

strong, comprehensive oil and gas rules were critical to this process!

At this point, we are all heaving a bit of a sigh of relief that the revision process is done. We will be contemplating other avenues to stay on top of related issues as the new regulations go into effect on September 15th:

  • Air Quality Monitoring – There is still a need for comprehensive site-based and regional air quality monitoring, possibly in conjunction with city and state entities within the Larimer County area.
  • Water Quality – Recent research by some of our members indicates we may have to closely watch what is done in terms of disposal of “produced water” from drilling sites, with concerns about a particular section of land that has already been a site of discharges into the Box Elder Creek drainage.
  • State Regulatory Processes – We have been party to some of the rulemaking programs at the State level, and continued work on that is in the offing as the COGCC and other agencies look to correct some of the deficiencies of their recent regulatory revisions.

Whatever is happening, the Larimer Alliance will work to see that the key protections of our health, safety, and environment are correctly implemented and strengthened whenever possible. Our community will be an important source for information on critical issues as they arise. Your input on things affecting your neighborhood and family will help us as we move forward. 

Remember that your voice is important

in defense of our community and our planet!

Thank you all once again for all you do!

www.larimeralliance.org

Check on relevant events on our Calendar Page!

ALLIANCE - Coloradoan Article on Larimer O and G Regs

ALLIANCE - Reporter Herald First Article on Larimer O and G Regs
ALLIANCE - Reporter Herald Second Article on Larimer O and G Regs

Comments by Doug Henderson presented on behalf of Larimer Alliance July 26, 2021

Comments made by Doug Henderson to the special hearing of the Larimer Board of County Commissioners on July 26, 2021:

Good evening Commissioners,

Colorado state law is clear:  protection of health, safety, welfare and environment has priority in matters of oil and gas development. It is no longer a matter of balancing between competing objectives – between enabling oil & gas development versus protecting people, communities, and the environment.

We have engaged substantially in this policy-making process since its inception. We have identified concerns and put forward recommendations for regulations that will provide reasonable protection related to oil & gas development, in accord with Colorado law. We have provided reasons and evidence to support our concerns and recommendations.

However, many of our recommendations have been rejected by County staff, without explanation or evidence to support these decisions.

So again at this hearing, in coalition with LOGIC and others, we are urging that the draft County regulations be revised in a number of critical areas. Our specific recommendations have been detailed by other speakers and in our written submissions.

In last weeks’ Planning Commission hearing, we heard clearly the rationale that underlies many important provisions and standards in the proposed draft regulations. The proposed provisions and standards are based on staff’s view of an acceptable balance between competing aims: protecting public health, safety, and the environment versus enabling oil and gas development. Presentations and explanations were framed repeatedly in terms of balancing – or as legal counsel said, weighing – between competing objectives and interests.

Notably absent from presentations and discussion was concern for ensuring reasonable protection of health, safety, and environment, even though such protection holds clear primacy under Colorado law.

For example, all rationale given for the proposed setbacks and reverse setbacks was based on balancing enabling oil and gas development versus protection. Staff presented maps showing special effects of setback distances, ensuing discussion revolved around these maps, especially concern that larger setbacks would preclude O&GFs in more areas. Absent was consideration or evidence regarding what setback distances are needed to achieve reasonable protection.

County staff justified the proposed regulation to allow surface use of public conservation lands for oil and gas development for reason that doing so could avoid oil and gas development on adjacent high-value agriculture land – the rationale being that protecting ag land would justify oil & gas development on conservation lands. Absent was consideration that protecting public conservation lands is the priority, and without compromise by necessity to enable oil and gas development.

We could cite other examples that illustrate a pre-SB181 ‘balancing’rationale for the proposed regulations, a rationale that is now at odds with Colorado law.

When the Planning Commissioners asked questions of staff, almost all the questions revolved around concern for enabling oil and gas development in the County, and there was essentially no attention to ensuring reasonable protection of health, safety, and the environment.

Frankly, it was astonishing to listen to questions, answers, and discussion that were unconcerned about whether the proposed regulations will provide reasonable protection, and without reference to the priority mandated by Colorado law for protection of health, safety, welfare and environment.

The final conclusion by the Planning Commission Chair was also noteworthy. In his view, an acceptable balance had been achieved because proponents of oil and gas development and advocates for health, safety, and environment all expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed regulations.

From this perspective, the rationale provided by staff – and the Planning Commission approval – of the proposed regulations is based on pre-181 rationale for policy, and fails a most basic test and requirement: that set by Colorado law.

We urge you to consider the recommendations we and others have put forward, and ensure that the County’s regulations will provide reasonable protection against known and foreseeable dangers, nuisance impacts, and harm that often result from O&G development.

Respectfully,

Doug Henderson
Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety, & the Environment