All posts by Ed Behan

REPORT ON FORT COLLINS PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION HEARING ON DRAFT OIL & GAS REGULATIONS NOVEMBER 17, 2022

Folks:

Tim Gosar and I both made an appearance before the Fort Collins Planning & Zoning Commission meeting last night, when they ultimately voted to recommend adoption of the draft oil and gas regulations we have all been chewing on over the past week and a half. Michelle Haefele was the sole dissenting voice

That anyone takes on these chores as a voluntary citizen board member is amazing. The old aphorism about watching paint dry comes to mind. But I am aware that some of you have been in on these sessions when certain controversies have been brewing in the past. That said, recent changes Fort Collins is enacting on their Land Use review processes which may remove the P&Z from being as involved in some decision making. This is disturbing. 

I will note a few changes that were proposed by supporting staff to the draft regulations as we had originally seen them. Senior Environmental Planner Kirk Longstein and Staff Liaison Rebecca Everette presented the changes. These included:

  • Removing oil and gas pipelines as acceptable in residential and open space zoning. There was some discussion of how and where such lines would run, with some consideration given to running them along existing utility corridors. 
  • Removing approval of oil and gas pipelines and their siting from the Basic Development Review (BDR) process and place under the Planning & Zoning Commission’s more comprehensive review process. 
  • Discussion of pipeline issues did focus on the need to reduce surface transportation by trucks.
  • A 2,000 foot Natural Habitat Buffer Zone was suggested. 
  • Plugging and Abandonment of wells would be supervised under a BDR process.Monitoring requirements were suggested as additional requirements.
  • The need to establish inspection protocols, with provisions for the operator to pay for such protocols, was suggested. As part of a financial assurance process, the operator would be required to provide guarantees of two years of maintenance on a plugged/abandoned well, five years worth for any necessary repairs. This is in compliance with COGCC financial security requirements.
  • They clarified that any decision under the BDR process, including any waiver decision on the part of the Director of Building Services, are subject to same criteria as processes initiated before the full Planning and Zoning Commission. They are also subject to appeal in the same manner as well.

The staff presenters said all of these changes were in response to public feedback since the Oct. 25 work session with City Council. Given the degree of feedback, they had pushed for and succeeded in having the first reading of the new regulations before City Council pushed back until Dec. 20. Those of you with more experience before City Council may be able to advise me if I am understanding that the Council may not make a final vote on the draft O&G rules on that date. . . “first reading” implies they may make changes based on their own concerns, and any issues raised by their constituencies. . . us. 

The Commission, in passing the motion to recommend, did discuss the setback issue at some length, responding primarily to Michelle Haefele’s concern about the “corner of building” versus “property line” for the setbacks. The staff did clarify that the property line standard would apply to parks, schoolyards, open space and natural habitats. Commissioner Haefele was focused on needing more time, but was overridden primarily by Chair David Katz and member Jeff Schneider, who both subscribed to the notion that a vote not to recommend was essentially a vote for no regulation, eerily reminiscent of Commissioner Tom Donnely’s line of reasoning during Larimer County’s first round of rule making. Commissioner Haefele was clear she favored regulation, but the need for more time to craft corrections was clear. Chair Katz seemed to be making it clear the Council was driving the process. 

Tim Gosar added that staff present at this meeting indicated that the City Council appears to be pushing to pass these draft rules ASAP.

Kirk indicated he was aware of the potential for not only an additional special hearing later this month at the AQAB, but also before the Natural Resources Advisory Board. Both websites for those groups still only show their regularly scheduled meetings, but those of you have been tracking this more closely than me have your ways to reach out and find out when such a hearing may take place and how we can marshall community feedback to those sessions and the Dec. 20 City Council meeting. 

We have word the Air Quality Advisory Board will hold a special meeting to take up the draft regulations on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 6:00 PM. A precise location will be reported when we have it.

Petition: Tell the COGCC to DENY the Guanella CAP

WE WANT TO SHARE THIS PETITION FROM OUR FRIENDS AT COLORADO RISING!

Folks: 

We received the petition link below from our friends at Colorado Rising regarding the Guanella Comprehensive Area Plan (CAP) for 466 wells to be drilled just across the County Line in Weld County, just East of I-25. The industry can pretend all they want. . . these projects invariably are subject to leaks of methane, VOCs, and other problematic emissions that inevitably end up against the Front Range to the West of Fort Collins and Loveland. 

The Larimer Alliance is already on record with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) as opposing the Guanella CAP. Colorado Rising has shared a petition to the COGCC opposing approval of this project, which you can access at the following link:

https://secure.ngpvan.com/QgHrisV1q0-V73mupDG72w2

Get your opinion in to the COGCC, share this with your family and community, and communicate to your local elected representatives as well your concerns and opposition to this ungainly project brewing on our doorstep. 

How Fracking Fuels the Flames

Colorado’s wildfires are getting bigger and growing faster. The cause: fossil fuels. Fracking and burning fossil fuels is fueling the climate crisis, creating hotter & dryer conditions, and making Colorado wildfires incredibly large & almost uncontrollable all year long. Take action!

1) WATCH & SHARE this video to spread the word: #FrackingFuelsTheFlames of the climate crisis.

2) Then go to www.safeandhealthyco.org to sign onto an open letter of support for a just transition and phase out of new oil and gas fracking permits by 2030.

Feel free to share this with your friends, family, and community and on your favorite social media platform!

LARIMER ALLIANCE AND 350 NORTHERN COLORADO RALLY BEFORE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING

Our friends from Colorado Rising and 350 Northern Colorado at the August 30 rally!

The Larimer Alliance and 350 Northern Colorado staged a rally outside the County Courthouse Tuesday morning, August 30, before the County Commissioners’ administrative matters meeting. They continued to call for the County to pro-actively enforce their own oil and gas regulations. Representatives from Colorado Rising, The Plymouth Congregational Church, Foothills Unitarian Church, Citizens Climate Lobby, and the Sierra Club were also present.

This coverage from the Loveland Reporter-Herald describes the rally, and the statements made before the Commissioners’ during the public comments section of the meeting.

https://www.reporterherald.com/2022/08/30/environmental-activists-rally-at-larimer-county-meeting/amp/

As noted in the coverage, the Commissioners had made statements following an executive session last week, indicating their intent to pursue more active enforcement of the County’s own regulations on new and existing oil and gas operations. This is a significant departure from their previous stance that such regulation would not be possible with existing facilities. We view this as a positive development, and hope to be part of the process of enabling such enforcement protocols.

Much of this focus on enforcement was prompted by concerns over the poorly operated Prospect Energy facilities North of Fort Collins, which had been causing health issues for local residents for years. Calls for more activity on the part of the County in dealing with this have been put forth by the Alliance and its regional allies. In another significant development, the Air Pollution Control Division finally enacted a shutdown order on the Krause tank battery in that area of Larimer County. This coverage from the Fort Collins Coloradoan details this State action, and includes comments from Alliance representative Doug Henderson:

https://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2022/08/25/prospect-energy-oil-gas-near-fort-collins-ordered-shut-down/65457107007/

Doug can also be heard in this interview on KGNU pubic radio our of Boulder, aired live just before our rally started. His section on the program picks up at about 6 minutes 50 seconds in the recording:

https://news.kgnu.org/2022/08/morning-magazine-podcast-tuesday-august-30-2022/

The Commissioners’ Administrative Meeting can be viewed in this video, with the public comments section opening the session:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J_COSc7IEw&ab_channel=LarimerCountyGovernment

These are all positive developments, and none of this would have been possible without the support and teamwork of our community and our great friends in all our allied groups. There will be more attention to be paid to ensure that effective regulation is really enabled, and acted upon. Our thanks to all of you for all you do. . .

Participants and signs at the August 30 rally
Participants and signs at the August 30 rally