Category Archives: Local Politics and Elections

Evolving category of posts related to upcoming elections or other interactions with elected officials at the Colorado state and local levels at Fort Collins, Larimer County and Weld County

2023 Fort Collins city council candidates respond to our questions

The Larimer Alliance believes vigorous democratic debate helps our society; and that expecting our elected representatives to respond to sincere questions about top policy issues helps that process.

Below are the questions that we developed as a group, and asked all candidates. Following our questions are their responses, embedded in our questions.

The following candidates did not respond: Jeni Arndt and Shirley Peel.

Mayoral & City Council 2023 Election Questionnaire

Dear Candidate,

We are the Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety & the Environment and seek to learn your ideas specific to our mission of educating the public & policy makers of the harms of Oil & Gas (O&G) development. We ask that you please provide your responses by October 5th, so that we may share them with our member list and other interested voters. We may or may not choose to endorse a candidate. Thank you for taking the time to address these important public health & safety issues. (If you feel a simple yes or no response is insufficient to answer any question, we encourage you to add your comments and ideas.)

SB19-181 substantially revised Colorado’s law governing (O&G) development establishing a clear priority of protecting public health, safety, the environment and wildlife resources. SB19-181 also enabled significant local government authority for regulating O&G development with a number of local governments having undertaken & established local regulations that increase protections of public health, safety, the environment and wildlife resources beyond what the State of Colorado feels is protective enough.

1. The City of Fort Collins is currently undergoing a rewrite of its O&G regulations with the next segment to be discussed & written being the operational standards. Operational standards include important regulations encompassing leak detection & repair (LDAR), air quality monitoring, financial assurance, water usage and Fort Collins & Larimer County’s joint O&G inspection program.

a. What ideas do you have for these operational standards that would be an improvement and more protective of public health & safety?

b. Do you support having a collaborative City and Larimer County inspection and enforcement team that conducts regular inspection and monitoring of O&G facilities, with the ability to fine and penalize non-compliant O&G operators for violations at their facilities?

i. Should local taxpayers or O&G operators pay for these inspections?

c. Full cost bonding requires O&G operators to post financial assurance equal to the costs of plugging, abandoning and reclaiming the O&G site once activities have been completed. Do you support full cost bonding requirements for all new O&G facilities?

d. Do you support monitoring and measuring actual water usage by O&G facilities, rather than relying on estimates provided by operators?

i. Do you support water provisions in the City’s regulations so that O&G operators are strongly encouraged or required to recycle & reuse their produced water?

2. The American Lung Association consistently gives Fort Collins an F-grade regarding air quality with the most recent 2023 report (link below) listing us as having the 15th worst air quality of over 200 American cities. Fort Collins has been moving down the most polluted list with more & more dangerous air quality. NCAR’s FRAPPÉ study found conclusively that O&G emissions are the major driver of unhealthy air quality in the northern Front Range area.

https://www.lung.org/research/sota/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities

a. Do you support 24/7 air quality monitoring and real-time data reporting at O&G sites and facilities within the City’s jurisdiction including the growth management area, to be paid for by the O&G operator?

b. Do you support 24/7 air quality monitoring and real-time data reporting including signature O&G pollutants for addressing regional air pollution affecting Fort Collins?

c. What other idea(s) do you have to address Fort Collins’s dangerous air quality?

3. Have you received or will you accept campaign contributions from companies whose primary business is the development of fossil fuels?

4. What other idea(s) do you have that could improve environmental protections and sustainability in Fort Collins?

a. How would these lead to improvement(s) in public health, safety, and the lives of Fort Collins residents?

5. What stewardship, environmental or sustainability practices have you implemented in your life that you feel others should consider enacting?

a. Why & what difference(s) has it/they made?

6. Do you support Fort Collins in collaboration with other Front Range communities taking legal action against polluters responsible for emissions that harm Fort Collins & other Front Range communities’ air quality and endanger public health & safety?

Respectfully,

Tim Gosar, Coordinator, Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety & the Environment


Response from Eric Hamrick: (please scroll through all pages of the pdf to see full response)

2023-Candidate-Questionnaire-Response-Eric-Hamrick


Response from Emily Francis: (please scroll through all pages of the pdf to see full response)

2023-Candidate-questionnaire-Response-Emily-Francis


Response from Julie Pignataro: (please scroll through all pages of the pdf to see full response)

2023-Candidate-Questionnaire-Response-Julie-Pignataro


Response from Melanie Potyondy: (please scroll through all pages of the pdf to see full response)

2023-Candidate-Questionnaire-Response-Melanie-Potyondy


Response from Patricia Babbitt: (please scroll through all pages of the pdf to see full response)

2023-Candidate-Questionnaire-Response-Patricia-Babbitt-1


Response from Alexander Adams: (please scroll through all pages of the pdf to see full response)

2023-Candidate-Questionnaire-Response-Alexander-Adams


FC city council considering O&G regs that would leave little room for new drilling

AS NEW DISCUSSION OVER LAND USE PLANNING heats up between the city council and the community, I thought posting this past article in the Coloradoan would be of interest.

As one of the subtitles of the articles states. “New regulations would leave no space in city for new wells to be built”. That is because proposed changes of 2,000 foot setbacks from “occupiable buildings, parks, trails or natural areas” would leave so feasible drilling sites within city limits; and the proposal allows for no exceptions or loopholes.

This does not address the 10 existing operating wells inside city limits, or any abandoned wells, which is another matter.

So this article has been posted for reference, although the Coloradoan may have a paywall requiring you to be a subscriber to read it; just leave a comment if that’s the case.

Fort Collins moves toward oil and gas regulations that would prevent new drilling in city

Coloradoan, Oct 26, 2022

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

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

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