Category Archives: APCD

Written comments by Rick Casey to the BOCC on the final public input on Larimer County’s O&G regulations

[Author’s Note: I submitted the following comments to the Board of County Commissioners on July 28, 2021 because I did not get the opportunity to speak in the Zoom meeting on Monday night, July 26, 2021. Since the topic of this final meeting was about the financial ability of operators to conduct their business, that was my focus.]

Good evening commissioners, county staff, and the public in attendance:

Thank you for allowing public testimony at tonight’s historic meeting. I and my colleagues in the Larimer Alliance deeply appreciate this opportunity to make our voices heard.

Climate change is barreling down on us, and anybody who is in denial of this reality is either in denial of global scientific evidence or is seriously in need of a mental health checkup. I am sure the county government is on the side of science, factual evidence and the law.

Since this evening’s meeting is primarily about fiscal responsibility of how oil and gas operators conduct their business, I will frame my comments around the long term outlook for how well local operators will be able to continue to operate. I am only a common layperson who reads the news, but having been an economics instructor at Front Range Community College since 2009, I have read deeply into these economic issues.

I would ask the commissioners to be especially wary any operators seeking to drill new wells in the county. The primary economic indicator to which these operators will frantically point is the international price of oil; typically the NY Mercantile Exchange price, which today was $72/bbl. But that price is as unstable as a wind vane: it will change with the winds of change in international economics. Last September, that price was at $36/bbl. The current price is based on recent announcements by OPEC+, which could change tomorrow.

Fundamentally, the long term price of oil is stacked against drilling of any new wells because the forecast for the long term need of oil and gas is, shall we say….unfavorable.

The evidence for this is that the GHG from cars and trucks surpassed the GHG from coal-fired power plants back in 2016 — and has been rising ever since. Coal is at an industrial dead end of life. Though unthinkable a mere decade ago, that industrial dead end is now a reality. The other looming industrial dead end is the drop in future demand of fossil fuels for transportation. The future for this demand is in turmoil.

The use of EV’s, or electric vehicles, is ramping up, and every major car manufacturer in the world, including GM, has announced a target date by when they will cease production of fossil fuel powered vehicles, with dates varying from 2030 to 2050, most by 2035. The state of Colorado is already investing significant state resources in the encouragement of EV’s. We can certainly expect the adoption of EVs to grow dramatically in the next decade.

The date for the end of fossil fuel powered vehicles is just a mere decade and a half away. Although this is a high level macroeconomic projection, it is an undeniable global economic force that the commissioners should consider, for it will undoubtedly have dramatic implications for current investment decisions in the county.

Other macroeconomic factors that could affect investment decisions are national energy policy, such as a possible future carbon tax, which would dramatically impact any local operators’s financial projections.

I have not even begun to address the long term health impacts, which is a whole other argument against allowing any further investment in oil and gas drilling in the county.

Also, all the arguments by private property owners about “takings” are invalid, which SB-181 specifically addressed. These people need to read the law, which was arrived at after years of strenuous democratic activity — and also realize that the national and global imperatives about global climate change far outweighs any of their claims about damage to their private property and income.

Based on this evidence, I think the county should be steering its investments away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy-based industries.

Thank you.

Ed Behan’s Statement to Planning Commission, July 21, 2021

Good Evening Commissioners:

My name is Ed Behan, and I am a resident of Fort Collins.

There has been a lot of information presented to you all tonight regarding the changes to Larimer County oil and gas regulations. I want to address one critical issue very briefly. There is a critical need for real time, site-based continuous air quality monitoring that is networked in such a fashion as to facilitate rapid response as needed in the event of any leak or potentially catastrophic mishap. The canister sensors proposed in the County’s draft regulations are only checked periodically.

To be able to have a timely reaction in the event of any failure of an oil and gas site’s equipment is critical for the health, safety, and environment of our community and natural spaces. I would think that would also be advantageous for an operator who may well be losing valuable product as well as compounding any clean-up issues associated with such an equipment failure. I will leave you with a copy of information that has been provided to both the Planning Department and the County Commissioners on a Colorado-based company that has created such a monitoring system, Project Canary. I will not say this is the only available technology that can be utilized in this fashion, but it is the first serious leap I have seen for site specific monitors beyond the canister systems.

Technology of this sort needs to be required for operation of oil and gas projects in Larimer County. I hope you will seriously consider this as an additional requirement for the draft regulations. Thank you.

Link to information delivered to both Larimer County Commissioners and Larimer County Planning Department on Project Canary:

Comments delivered BOCC and Planning Department on June 15

 

 

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

Activism in a Pandemic

Where is the Larimer Alliance headed as 2020 draws to a close?

As this difficult year draws to a close, the steering committee for the Larimer Alliance wanted to communicate where we stand and where we see us headed in 2021. We do not think we are yet safe from the oil & gas industry here in Larimer County…but we do feel safer due to some big developments in 2020, which were:

  • COGCC decided on its new mission change rules, with some dramatic changes from its past behavior
  • Two new county commissioners elected, both Democrats which the Alliance endorsed
  • A global pandemic that began in March 2020 has dramatically reduced worldwide demand for oil and gas, reducing the incentive to drill new wells

The Larimer Alliance is carefully weighing how to proceed to achieve our goal of protecting the people and environment of Larimer County. We take this role seriously, and are doing what we do because we believe it is necessary; and we absolutely rely on you, our readers and members, to voice your support for these goals. Hopefully in 2021, after the dissemination of an effective Covid vaccine allows us to interact more normally, the Alliance will be able to interact with you and our community on a more personal basis.

When the pandemic hit, the Alliance steering committee pivoted to Zoom meetings, went with the flow, and continued to meet throughout 2020 on a biweekly basis. Our main regret is that we were not able to hold any in-person events this fall, which is our main way to do fundraising.

When SB-181 was passed in April 2019, we knew it would take a while to implement; appropriately enough, it was not until after weeks of hearings begun in summer 2020, the COGCC finally concluded its main hearings resulting from SB-181, which have fundamentally changed the mission of the COGCC, can be viewed in its entirety here.

The main points of that change were:

  • A 2,000 foot setback of any new O&G projects from occupied buildings, with no exceptions allowed
  • Require alternative site location analysis for all well permits
  • Require cumulative impact analysis
  • Started the process of requiring disclosure of all fracking chemicals as the first step towards banning certain uses

What these developments show is that real progress was achieved in 2020, and that more progress is possible in 2021. The rulemaking hearings of the more esoteric areas of COGCC are yet ongoing; as are the rulemakings of its allied organizations: the CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment); the AQCC (Air Quality Control Commission), and the RAQC (Regional Air Quality Council)…the flurry of acronyms and organizations can be overwhelming. Is there a simpler way to think about this?

The answer is yes, there is a simpler way to understand what has happened; because what has happened is that the COGCC must now coordinate with the state agencies that oversee public health — a role which neither of them have had to do before in a coordinated way. In effect, the COGCC has been forced, as a result of SB-181, to step outside its traditional role of permitting and monitoring O&G well operations, to including the health and environmental impacts of those operations — at the very start of the well permitting process — which had never been required before. (As such, this is a groundbreaking direction of O&G regulation that has never been done at the state level before, of which Coloradoans can feel justifiably proud.)

However, due to the novelty of this new regulatory direction, there will be a necessary amount of effort devoted to developing these new interfaces between these regulatory agencies that have not had to integrate their operations before; it will not happen simply as result of passing a new law. Another step is required: although our legislators can take credit for the vision to get behind and pass SB-181, it will take many more hours of patient back-&-forth between these various regulatory agencies to work out these new protocols. But at least we can take comfort in the fact that they are now, by law, united in the common goal of making O&G operations safe to operate in Colorado, and sincerely including the impacts on the environment and the health of nearby communities.

As these developments play out in 2021, the Larimer Alliance is positioned as the only non-profit dedicated to monitoring them in Larimer County and communicating them to the public. Please consider helping us to carry on our mission in the coming year.