Category Archives: Local government (city & county)

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!

 

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.

Comments by Doug Henderson to COGCC, June 16, 2021

I am Doug Henderson, a resident of Larimer County, speaking for the Larimer Alliance for Health Safety and Environment, a coalition of residents and organizations in Larimer County.

Larimer County’s air quality is terrible, due largely to oil and gas industry emissions.

The American Lung Association gives Larimer County a grade F for air quality. In 2019, Fort Collins was ranked #24 worst in ozone pollution of over 200 cities in the US. In 2020, Fort Collins ranked lower: #19 worst in the US.

The NCAR FRAPPÉ study found conclusively that oil & gas industry emissions are the major driver of unhealthy air quality in the northern Front Range including Larimer County. Improving our air quality depends on reducing emissions from oil and gas facilities.

We in Larimer also face the mega problem of climate change and all its ramifications. The impacts are not in some distant future, they are immediate and close to home. Last summer, the biggest wildfire in Colorado’s history was directly west of where I live near Ft Collins, wreaking both immediate and lasting impacts. It’s only mid-June now, but this week we are sweltering, and almost every day is an air alert, very bad air day.

What kind of canary in the coalmine does Colorado’s officialdom need to wake up, get serious, and take meaningful action to rapidly reduce harmful emissions and greenhouse gases such as methane?

It is time – past time – that COGCC takes serious action to stop harmful, often illegal, emissions from O&G facilities and sites.

These emissions happen at virtually all O&G facilities, causing damage to people’s health, ruining our air quality, and doing grave harm to our environment and climate. Colorado expects operators to self-report and be honest about emissions. But the real honest truth is that the industry lies about its emissions. And in spite of this open secret, there has been very little monitoring, investigation, and enforcement by state or local authorities.

One example here in Larimer County –

Investigators with the organization Earthworks recently documented emissions at an O&G facility just NE of Ft Collins, in Larimer County. The investigation was triggered by a report from a nearby local resident, who has experienced health problems for years from this facility – headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, possibly long-term damage.

The facility has been leaking harmful and illegal emissions for many years – harming local people, air quality and our environment. Although the operator was cited for violations a number of times over years, the leaks continued, and local residents suffered health effects. It took repeated imaging documentation by Earthworks and reports to the state in the first months of this year before the operator finally made repairs that stopped the leaks.

Without that, the facility would be leaking now, with the operator denying there was a problem, and authorities replying on self-reporting and trusting the operator to fix leaks.

Unfortunately this is typical O&G business as usual, how the industry has operated for decades.

COGCC needs to get serious about stopping harmful emissions.

Every O&G site needs monitoring adequate to identify harmful emissions and to report in real time, to be useful for addressing problems when they occur. Technology is readily available to do this. But of course the industry prefers monitoring and reporting that provides results weeks or months later, and is not public, because its useless for really ending leaks and holding polluters responsible.

Local residents and emergency responders have a right to know what is being emitted, available on a public website with alert options so that people can know when a dangerous emission occurs near them and take precautions.

The problem of emissions isn’t only with active wells and facilities it is also inactive wells, including properly plugged and abandoned wells and wells simply  abandoned.

Mechanical Integrity Tests are needed and necessary to ensure that inactive wells are not a danger to public health and safety, not harming the environment, and not causing climate damage, possibly huge damage.

Credible research points to idle inactive wells and abandoned wells as significant sources of methane emissions.

But without integrity tests of these wells, there is no way to ensure that they aren’t leaking methane and other harmful pollutants. And no way to know if some may be “super emitters” that are contributing disproportionately to climate change.

We ask COGCC to put more attention and effort to
• emissions monitoring and reporting,
• to enforcement that serves as effective deterrent,
• and to ensuring that mechanical integrity tests are conducted to
identify emissions and to stop them.

We encourage that this happens sooner rather than later – for protection of public health, safety and environment, and because rapid reduction of GHGs – sooner, not later – is crucial to maintaining a livable climate and planet.

Thank you for your attention to and action on rapid reduction of emissions.