Category Archives: SB-181

Posts specifically about SB-181

DEAR COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: WE HAVE THE POWER!

Inspired by the May/June newsletter from the Poudre Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club, I sent the following email to our Larimer County Commissioners. Why? Because I, and the rest of the Larimer Alliance, are of the fervent belief that the Commisioners HAVE NOT BEEN ENFORCING THE LAW as written in SB-181. It seems that the Commissioners have been under the impression that they do not have the legal authority to regulate existing O&G operations — this is emphatically not the case, in our humble opinion!

See my email below for my reasons why:

Dear Commissioner Kefalas, 

Dear Commissioner Stephens, 

Dear Commissioner Shadduck-McNally: 

I would like to call your attention to the May/June newsletter of the Poudre Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club (attached). 

In there, it asserts, on sound legal grounds, that our county administrators have full authority under SB-181 to regulate existing oil and gas operations — no matter how long they have been in existence. 

That being the case, I would urge the commissioners to take stronger action to protect county residents from existing operations, such as longtime leaky tanks in northern Fort Collins belonging to Prospect Energy. For far too long, this operator has been getting by on inadequate repairs and flimsy excuses, while all the while continuing to expose local residents to the poisonous fumes escaping from them, and fouling the ambient environment. 

Just read/watch the first hand experience of Von Bortz, who lives in enough proximity of the Krause facility to suffer from its air pollution:

 Oil company hasn’t replaced leaking tanks near Fort Collins despite months of complaints

I hope the commissioners will take this suggestion in a positive manner, and know that we, the citizens of Larimer County, are only trying to enforce SB-181 in the spirit and letter of the law in which it as written and intended — and not reinterpreted in some way to twist it to protect the oil and gas industry. 

Sincerely, 

–​ Rick​

Rick Casey

webmaster: larimeralliance.org, larimerallianceblog.org, focosustainability.org, colivableclimate.org, ncalf.org

Former State Senator Mike Foote Releases Report on Less Than Effective Implementation of SB19-181

Folks:

We received the communication below from our friends at the Sierra Club, and if you detect a note of sarcasm in the subject line of this message, it is intentional. Former State Senator Mike Foote was one of the principal authors of Senate Bill 19-181, which was to change the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The report he has issued is damning to say the least. We will attach the document to this note, and we will post it on our blog as well. This is not encouraging, but we are aware there are members of the State Legislature that are looking to improve this situation. The message from Sierra Club incudes a link to their press release and to the report document as well. We have work to do, people. . . 


Hi folks,

 As you might know, former Senator Mike Foote was a prime sponsor of SB19-181, which changed the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from one of fostering production to protecting the health, safety, welfare of people and biological resources and the environment.   

Last week, Foote released a report that, in a thorough analysis of the COGCC’s activities during the last year, compares SB19-181’s original intent to its implementation.  He concludes that, so far, the agency’s actions are not consistent with the requirements of SB19-181 to protect health, safety, the environment, and wildlife.  

Please find the report, “COGCC One Year After Mission Change” attached, and Sierra Club’s press release.


 Thank you,

photo Alexis SchwartzPolitical OrganizerPronouns: She/Her/Hers1536 Wynkoop Street, Suite 200Denver, CO 80202850-766-6320 (c)[email protected]
COGCC-One-Year-After-Mission-Change-1

some coal in your christmas stocking: the potential of O&G well abandonment in colorado

As 2021 draws to a close, I wanted to add one last post to the blog here about an issue concerning the oil and gas industry that bears remembering for its possible effect on all citizens of Colorado: the potential of O&G well abandonment in Colorado, and the possibility of state taxpayers having to pay for it — instead of the O&G industry.

That possibility was made all too clear in an interview that the radio station KUNC did on November 19, 2021 with Andrew Forkes-Gudmunson, who is the deputy director of LOGIC, the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradoans. This was part of the station’s excellent news show about local issues, the Colorado Edition that airs at 6:30pm. You can still listen to the interview on their website at

https://www.kunc.org/show/kuncs-colorado-edition/2021-11-19/plugging-up-the-problem-of-colorados-orphan-wells

To get to the chase, after all of the state data was analyzed by LOGIC, using data from the COGCC website, LOGIC came to the conclusion that about 70 per cent of the active wells in the state produce less than one barrel of oil a day, and that the majority of those wells are owned by small operators, not by a major oil company. It is within reason to also infer that many of these low producing wells are never going to increase their production since they are “played out”; and then to conclude that the operators have not yet abandoned them because of the cost of doing so. When a well operator tells the COGCC that they are going to abandon a well, the well needs to be plugged before the operator can abandon it, i.e. cease to have any legal connection or obligation to it. And to plug a well carries a certain cost. Though it basically means pouring cement down the oil bore and letting it dry, it can be more or less expensive depending on the type of well, how deep it is, and other environmental factors that might entail additional measures.

Long story short, looking at the data carefully seems to indicate that the COGCC has allowed a lot of small operators to keep their played out wells in the “active” category simply because the operators don’t want to declare them to be in need of being plugged before abandoning them. This is, unfortunately, the sad end of allowing an industry to effectively self-regulate itself, going back over seven decades.

Thus, when looking at a range of estimates for plugging a well, there is an all-too-real possibility of the total price tag for plugging all these wells that should have been abandoned before now coming in at something like $7 BILLION! To put that figure in perspective, the 2019-20 state budget was about $32.5 billion; or that for 2021 state population, would be about $1,100 for every man, woman and child in the state.

It is because of this possibility that the COGCC is holding its final phase of rulemaking for SB-181 via public hearings about Financial Assurance during January and February. “Financial Assurance” basically means holding the O&G industry to account for the cost of plugging abandoned wells. See this other blog post for the calendar of events about that, and if you would like to express your opinion. The COGCC would love to hear from you! 🙂

Please keep this in mind as we enter 2022…Happy New Year, everybody!

northeRn larimer county gets noticed…FINALLY

The residents who live in the vicinity of the oil and gas wells in northern Larimer County — such as the Hearthfire neighborhood and County Road 13 — know all too well all about leaking tanks, foul odors and unsafe air pollution; and finally this attracted some media attention. The Larimer Alliance is thankful for this story in the Coloradodoan that was published December 6, 2021:

Oil company hasn’t replaced leaking tanks near Fort Collins despite months of complaints

It was certainly a great effort by the reporter Jacy Marmaduke, the people she interviewed, and especially the videographic work by Earthworks’ Andrew Klooster.

As Ms Marmaduke accurately described, existing oil and gas wells and transmission facilities have fallen through the cracks of industry regulations. Even though SB-181, the 2019 law that dramatically reformed how oil and gas is regulated, and empowered local city and county authorities, in theory, to write their own regulations about oil and gas operations, these have only applied to new wells — leaving existing operations to continue to be regulated by the state. This has come as quite the disappointment of local residents who were hoping for some help and relief from the continuing air pollution.

As we’ve come to find out, when existing tanks start leaking, the state regulators have been slow to react; as the hapless residents having to endure the foul air have found out. It has taken months of effort by local residents complaining to the authorities responsible, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, to get them to inspect the sites.

Unfortunately, it will likely take many more months of efforts by citizens calling out for redress to fix the problem. Please show your support by either commenting here, sending your thanks to the Coloradoan for the above story, or contacting your city and county offices to express your concerns.