THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE WENT OUT AS AN EMAIL TO OUR COMMUNITY FOLLOWING PASSAGE OF NEW OIL AND GAS REGULATIONS IN LARIMER COUNTY BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS:
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, a continuation of another hearing earlier that week. Our side made a good pitch for even stronger regulations, and the oil and gas opposition clearly indicated they wanted no further regulation whatsoever.
The new regulations are clearly better than the weak set of rules passed by the previous, predominantly Republican Board in 2020. But we still find there are omissions in key protections for our communities, our environment, the county’s natural open lands, and critical wildlife habitat. Both Commissioners Jody Shadduck-McNally and Kristin Stephens submitted amendments to improve protections, particularly in regards to setting wider setbacks and keeping natural resources and forestry lands out of development. Significantly, Commissioner Stephens said this about the new regulations:
“(I) wanted to make sure that we are protecting health and welfare and protecting our environment, which is so important here in Northern Colorado, I think that we’ve achieved that. We may not have created a perfect product. And the good thing about it is it’s not set in stone; this is something that we can revise and review periodically to make sure we have it right.”
In describing her “north star” in proposing amendments to the proposed regulations, Commissioner Shadduck-McNally stated:
“The question was not where the oil and gas facility is located … but whether any location proposed should be approved in the first place. I feel SB-181 gave us those tools to really use that north star to really take seriously this responsibility of not just current residents but future residents.”
See the attached transcripts of coverage from the Fort Collins Coloradoan and Loveland Reporter-Herald.
None of this would have happened without you!
The comments and messages you got into the County Commissioners in favor of
strong, comprehensive oil and gas rules were critical to this process!
At this point, we are all heaving a bit of a sigh of relief that the revision process is done. We will be contemplating other avenues to stay on top of related issues as the new regulations go into effect on September 15th:
- Air Quality Monitoring – There is still a need for comprehensive site-based and regional air quality monitoring, possibly in conjunction with city and state entities within the Larimer County area.
- Water Quality – Recent research by some of our members indicates we may have to closely watch what is done in terms of disposal of “produced water” from drilling sites, with concerns about a particular section of land that has already been a site of discharges into the Box Elder Creek drainage.
- State Regulatory Processes – We have been party to some of the rulemaking programs at the State level, and continued work on that is in the offing as the COGCC and other agencies look to correct some of the deficiencies of their recent regulatory revisions.
Whatever is happening, the Larimer Alliance will work to see that the key protections of our health, safety, and environment are correctly implemented and strengthened whenever possible. Our community will be an important source for information on critical issues as they arise. Your input on things affecting your neighborhood and family will help us as we move forward.
Remember that your voice is important
in defense of our community and our planet!
Thank you all once again for all you do!
Check on relevant events on our Calendar Page!ALLIANCE - Coloradoan Article on Larimer O and G Regs
A very informative article from Peggy Tibbetts, who’s been writing about the anti-fracking and other environmental issues in western Colorado for some time. What’s quite interesting is how locals created a website to show exactly how the county commissioners used tax dollars to resist the implementation of SB-181, which is supposed to protect the health and environment and make that the priority, over promoting the oil and gas industry. It would appear that the Garfield County Commissioners are acting against the intent of the law:
[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.