Category Archives: Local government (city & county)

A priority for Fort Collins City Council Going Forward

The following was submitted to the opinion section of the Fort Collins Coloradoan following their article on April 30 which solicited citizen ideas for priorities for the City Council.


I read with interest the article in the Coloradoan on Sunday, April 30, looking at the various priorities the Fort Collins City Council are working on. I don’t fault the goals, nor the intention to try and arrive at the best solution across a range of difficult issues. 

Of particular interest to me is the commitment of the City toward establishing a regulatory scheme for oil and gas operations. The City Council approved amendments to their land use code on April 4, focusing on setbacks and zoning to restrict the actual territory within city limits available for oil and gas development. This is a good first step, but by itself does not represent comprehensive regulation. While I am aware our fair city may be on the edge of the Denver-Julesburg Basin, and very few legacy sites are actually present within the City’s growth management area, it would be naive to say we are not still at risk to have further exploration occurring within the greater Fort Collins area. The oil and gas industry organizations presented their own argument prior to April 4 that opposed even the use of setback and zoning to constrain their operations, suggesting there may be more brewing beneath the surface than immediately meets the eye. 

I am a member of the Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety, & the Environment, and we advocated for more detailed regulations. At present, we are communicating with City Council and Staff for the modifications to municipal code that may fill the gaps. Fort Collins is likely to be annexing territory to the East of current city limits, if not to the North as well, where the two legacy operations have caused considerable problems for residents. Given that there is substantial industry interest in territory around Wellington and Windsor, the notion that some oil and gas activity may eventually find its way into the future growth management area of Fort Collins is not at all beyond the realm of possibility. 

As well, the City and County should also be looking at more comprehensive, real time and networked air quality monitoring systems beyond the canister type of site-based sensors that can tell of an issue after it has already happened. The reality is that while there may be minimal oil and gas activity destined to happen within Fort Collins and Larimer County, we are heavily impacted by the emissions from over 20,000 wells in Weld County that have left the Front Range with some of the worst air quality in the country. And the greatest source of precursors to surface level atmospheric ozone, which grievously affects the health of our citizens, are the emissions of oil and gas sites concentrated so heavily to our immediate East. 

Thank you.

Ed Behan

Fort Collins, Colorado

The story of how Boulder County succeeded in defeating Extraction Energy’s attempt at a forced pooling

This story below comes from John McDonaugh, whom I asked if I could publish his comments on this issue, which was announced in a press release by Boulder County on May 4, 2023, which can be read at:

Boulder County Declares Victory on Highly Contested Application to Drill County-Owned Minerals

This is why the Larimer Alliance continues to encourage Larimer County to take a similar tough stand with the O&G industry. We all know we must transition away from fossil fuels — the sooner the better — yet this industry continues to attempt to new drill new wells — even attempting to force Boulder County into a forced pooling. So here is the back story on how Boulder Country succeeded in this particular case. –Rick Casey

Yes, Boulder’s success demonstrates the power and necessity of hope and commitment. However, their victory in this hard-fought battle required more than that:  Boulder played smart. They played tough. They didn’t acquiesce to half-measures or settle for political green-washing or low-hanging fruit (battery lawn tool rebates, anyone?).  They utilized a multi-prong approach that combined education, direct action, political pressure, creative regulatory drafting, savvy legal maneuvering, and “bottom-line” awareness with a relentless, unwavering focus on their ultimate objective:  Prevent O&G development in Boulder County.  

Take a closer look at the sequence.  Extraction Energy initially (c. 2017) pressed for 32 O&G wells and ancillary facilities to be located on Boulder County land.  Boulder firmly opposed the project and supported the enactment of SB 19-181 which gave local governments broad authority to regulate O&G development. Once SB 19-181 became law, Boulder County promptly undertook drafting and enactment of well-crafted, extremely powerful, local O&G regs.  Once in place, those strong local O&G regs undercut Extraction’s legal position, and rendered the proposed in-County O&G development (and Extraction’s battle to approve it) infeasible and uneconomic.  

Extraction Energy then attempted to develop Boulder County’s O&G resources via directional drilling from the Blue Paintbrush pad located just on the Weld County side of the Weld/Boulder County line.  Extraction figured that since SB 19-181 only allowed local governments to regulate the surface impacts of O&G development (and Weld County was, as always, in favor of the development) they could avoid compliance with the Boulder County regs by moving the O&G surface facilities outside Bounder County’s jurisdiction.  However, regs aside, Extraction still needed to acquire the subsurface mineral rights below Boulder County land.  Once again, Boulder County and its residents held firm to their objective and overwhelmingly rejected Extraction’s mineral rights purchase offer.    

But Extraction Energy wasn’t finished.  They next went to the COGCC seeking a “Forced Pooling” order which would require Boulder County to allow Extraction to develop the minerals as part of Extraction’s broader reservoir development plan. Boulder County and its residents then fought Extraction’s Forced Pooling attempt on multiple fronts:  politically (via proposed anti-FP legislation), administratively, legally, and in the “court of public opinion”.  They ultimately prevailed (at least until another oil company effort comes along).  However, Boulder County leaders and residents now know they can — through focused diligence, savvy strategies, and hard work —prevail against O&G industry overreach.  Equally important, so do the oil companies…who will likely look elsewhere for “greener pastures” and “easier pickings” the next time around.  Why play the Kansas City Chiefs when you can play the Chicago Bears? 

Boulder County and its residents showed what it takes. Playing against oil companies and their political enablers is tough.  It’s often unpleasant.  It’s taxing on multiple personal and professional levels. The other side is smart, well-financed, well-connected, and extremely tenacious. They will press their objectives, irrespective of the broader public good, until they encounter firm and effective resistance. The knife goes in until it meets steel. That’s not “cynicism”, it’s reality.  

If we environmental advocates truly do our jobs, some folks — including some folks in power and, sadly, even some so-called “environmentalists” — won’t like us very much.  However, if we remain true to our course, play smart, build and leverage effective coalitions, and call out industry BS and political inaction when necessary, they will respect us and will fear what we may accomplish. And, to my mind, that’s far more important to our world, to our community, and to the most vulnerable among us. 

If a community and its leaders settle for empty promises, election-year greenwashing, unrelated low-hanging fruit (e.g. a few more bike racks, EV chargers, lawn tool rebates), and other placebos that won’t move the climate change, ozone, and toxic emissions needle, they will get exactly what they deserve.  The oil industry will see to that.  

Boulder County and its residents showed us the way. Let’s heed and learn from their example. 

Thanks for all you and LA have done and continue to do in our “neck of the woods” on this critical issue.  Keep up the good fight!  

—  John McDonagh

John is another Old Retired Guy who lives in Fort Collins (and a former state government enforcement attorney, oil industry regulator, oil industry senior counsel, and Federal agency senior environmental counsel). 


A good time was had by all at Avogadro’s Number on March 30, 2023 at this first post-covid public event for the Larimer Alliance. Many thanks to Kyle Ferrar from FracTracker traveling out from California to share his expertise and the fundamental data projects they are conducting.

To see pictures of the event, go to our Facebook page.

To see the blog page about the event, with more links to information, click here.



January 12, 2023

Dear Andrea,

Economic growth in the City of Loveland is bound by a Uniform Development Code ( designed to promote public health, safety, and the general welfare.  Allowing hydraulic fracturing in the Centerra Region of Loveland violates this code and the city’s comprehensive plan.  Below are just some of the ways that fracking is NOT compatible with the Uniform Code.

Code: Promote economic opportunity, encourage investment, and promote property values.

Reality: The Oil and Gas Industry provides less than 1% of the states total employment but is projected to cost $1.36 billion annually in damages to the environment. That is 1.5 times the total taxes and fees oil and gas brings to the state. (CO Fiscal Institute, 2022).  Property values decline in areas polluted by  noise, heavy large vehicle traffic, and toxic air caused by invisible fracking gas leaks verified by infrared cameras. (Earthworks, 2022) More and more property owners in Centerra are voicing their concerns and protesting the planned 26 wells that they want stopped. (multiple dates, Loveland Reporter Herald.)

Code: Promote good civic design and site layout.

Reality: Loveland allows reverse setbacks that allow drilling only 300 feet from businesses that employ people such as wholesale nurseries, storage yards, heavy industry, composting facilities, and essential utility facilities. Residential development other than high occupancy buildings is located only 500 feet from an existing oil and gas facility. (City of Loveland Planning Division).  A majority of members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission say “All homes and schools in Colorado should be protected from new oil and gas drilling by a 2,000-foot buffer or setback – four times the current standard for urban areas”. (The Colorado Sun, 9-9-20) In areas with dense oil and gas site layout we see lower birth weights, more children with congenital heart defects, and more childhood cancers. (CU Anschutz Professor Lisa McKenzie). Being close to drilling sites is also dangerous for the elderly and those with breathing issues.

Code: Promote fiscally responsible infrastructure and services.

Reality:  The Oil and Gas industry has tens of thousands of orphaned wells that could cost tax payers billions of dollars to clean up. In addition to the financial burden “all of the science indicates that the dangerous gases that spew from wells are major contributors to climate change.” (Joe Salazar, Colorado Rising, 8-31-21). Climate caused disasters alone have cost the state between $20 billion and $50 billion since 1980. (Colorado Fiscal Institute)

Code: Lessen the risk of flood, fire, panic, and other dangers.

Reality: Fracking poses unique dangers to residential areas by subjecting families to known carcinogens like benzene.  In 2017 fracking gases in Firestone combusted violently in a home causing serious injuries and 2 deaths. “Forced pooling” has allowed gas companies to annex mineral rights and drill beneath homes without the owner’s consent. Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions, like methane, contribute to severe weather leading to floods and wildland fires.

Code: Promote the conservation of energy, water, and environmental resources.

Reality: Fracking is a water intensive industrial process. It uses, 1.5 million to 16 million gallons of water per well, according to the United States Geological Survey.< -does-typical-hydraulically-fractured-well-require__;!!HxSnvVm2WdNPEuU!rxwQM 2UytYawcVsFzHuVsPQh0pU4UIuY7unoMMcHMeGLKizQC9rLqOym5M-3MoidYtBPjn1HC7Uy0RVe3fj0kjSXBXEpbnsdgItRO70$>

We don’t get that polluted water back and we’re currently in a 1200 year drought.

Code: Promote the use of renewable energy.

Reality: To curb our climate crisis, we need to end our dependence on fossil fuels. That may have seemed far-fetched a decade ago given the cost of installing wind and solar at the time, but in 10 years, the price of solar electricity dropped 89%, and the price of onshore wind dropped 70%. (Rocky Mountain Institute, 2019). Continued use of fossil fuels is expensive and unnecessary.

Please consider the future of our city and adherence to the Uniform Development Code as you make your decision about allowing fracking in Centerra. For everyone’s health, safety, and the general welfare city leaders owe it to its citizens to not permit fracking within city limits.

Thank you.


Nancy Garcia,

Ward 2 Loveland



Thank you for your email and the thorough, comprehensive and specific information you provided. I appreciate you taking the time to break each issue down and to relate it to code compliance with the examples directly from our code.

I have copied city manager Steve Adams and city attorney Moses Garcia in my response so that your email can be included in any information presented to council and/or planning commission in the event this issue comes before Council.

Thank you again, very much,

Andrea Samson

Loveland City Council

Ward 2