Category Archives: Fort Collins City elections

All about the city elections, both mayoral & council

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

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.