Comments on COGCC hearing on financial assurance

These are comments I made during live commentary at the public COGCC meeting on March 31, 2021: 

Good evening Commissioners,

I am Doug Henderson, I live in Larimer County. I am speaking for the Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety and Environment, a coalition that represents thousands of Larimer County residents.

Oil & gas development has many financial costs that are externalized and avoided by the industry –

  • O&G operations collide with residential areas and neighborhood — so people suffer and get sick

from these operations and emissions, with big costs to their lives, families, and communities

  • property values decline, causing losses to homeowners
  • communities become embroiled in fighting against O&G,

costing residents, local governments, and public agencies untold millions

  • air and water get polluted, with huge costs now and into the future
  • billions of gals of toxic waste gets pumped underground –

its false to pretend this won’t have costly consequences

  • many spills, explosions, and fires occur,with costs to emergency services, people’s health, 

and to the environment

  • and the list also includes thousands of old wells and sites left by operators, for taxpayers to pay to clean up.

It is time that O&G operators are required to pay their way, to cover all their costs, from start to finish, to operate when and where it is genuinely profitable, not because it is subsidized by externalizing costs to others, to local communities, to local and state governments, and to taxpayers.

At this point, taxpayers are already facing the cost of plugging and cleaning up thousands of orphaned wells in Colorado, which will run to hundreds of millions. The O&G industry is unwilling to pay to clean up after itself.

It is this Commission’s responsibility to make sure that going forward, the O&G industry acts responsibly, and that operators are capable and responsible for fully covering costs.

COGCC must require full-cost bonding, set at a level that provides real financial incentive to properly shut down, plug, and abandon wells, and to fully reclaim and remediate sites. Every well needs to bonded. Inadequate bonding creates incentive for operators to escape properly shutting down and cleaning up sites.

Allowing blanket bonding must eliminated – in some cases now, the effective bond is under $1000 per well.

COGCC also should get serious about a mechanism for the O&G industry to pay for cleaning up orphaned wells and sites in Colorado – so taxpayers won’t be left with clean-up costs.

The industry claims to be responsible toward the public and the environment.

COGCC needs to be sure the industry and operators walk their talk – from start to finish, including cleaning up after all their operations and all sites, current, future, and past, instead of leaving it to taxpayers.

We thank the Commissioners and staff in COGCC who have genuinely embraced reform in oversight of O&G development in Colorado, including protecting the taxpayers from undue financial risk and cost.

Leave a Reply