COGcc Public comment toolkit and other links

On Tuesday, November 16 a comprehensive webinar sponsored by 350 Colorado and the Colorado Sierra Club provided insight into the permitting process at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). The conveners reported that the Commission has basically been approving all the permits put before them since the election of Governor Polis and the passage of SB19-181, in spite of many not meeting the requirements of their own newly enacted regulations. The great bulk of these were on existing wellpads, but the trend is not encouraging. New permits are now coming before the COGCC, and the need to monitor the process closely is not to be dismissed.

Presenting during the webinar were:

  • JoAnn Hackos, Evergreen Audubon Conservation Board Member, Wildlife and Biological Resources Coalition member, member of the Audubon Colorado Council, and Chair of the Sierra Club Oil and Gas Committee
  • Brad Klafehn was a participant in the Mission Change rulemaking; he comes from the Sierra Club Oil and Gas Committee, Colorado Native Plant Society, and the Wildlife and Biological Resources Coalition. 
  • Katessia Robertson, Intern with 350 Colorado, student at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver
  • Kate Christensen, 350 Colorado Oil and Gas Campaign Coordinator
  • Alexis Schwartz, Organizer with the Colorado Sierra Club

A detailed presentation on how to navigate the COGCC website provided valuable insight into how things look and function. A video of the webinar has been made available by the Colorado Sierra Club , which will include that presentation. A toolkit that summarizes those procedures was presented and can be viewed below. It may help in conjunction with viewing the full presentation in small bites!

To say the process is obtuse is an understatement, and there is little doubt that has been the bureaucratic imperative, because who wants that pesky citizenry weighing in on major industrial developments in their communities and environment? But these are valuable tips for making sure the record is complete by getting your own input registered on permits of concern to you. Thanks, 350 Colorado!

COGCC Public Comment Toolkit

What is the COGCC?

          COGCC stands for Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. The purpose of the COGCC is to protect public health, safety, welfare, and the environment of Colorado from adverse impacts related to oil and gas natural resources. See their mission here.

What does this have to do with us?

          The COGCC has a process for approving oil and gas development plans(OGDPs) from oil & gas operating companies(also known as operators) looking to drill or build oil and gas wells in Colorado. After an operator completes this plan, the application is considered complete and the application is then in the review process. This process includes an opportunity for the public to make comments. These comments will be taken into consideration when the COGCC approves or denies an OGDP. Although this process is complicated, the goal of this toolkit is to make it easier and more accessible to the general public to make comments. 

Oil & Gas Development Plans (OGDP) and Location Applications

Oil & Gas Development Plans (OGDPs)

Oil & Gas Development plans are an Operator’s plan to develop oil or gas resources from one or more locations. Pending applications include a hearing application, 2A forms(OGDPs can have multiple 2A applications), a 2B form, and an oil and gas location assessment. Form 2C has already been approved for OGDPs. 

*OGDP applications do not have a space for public comment

Oil & Gas Location Assessments (Form 2As)

Pending applications are for a specific well location that corresponds to an OGDP application. Form 2A must be completed for an OGDP application to be considered. The 2A form contains important information that the public can read about and comment on. 

*2A forms have a space for public comment 

Making a public comment


  1. Go to COGCC website
  2. Click on “Permits”
  3. Click on “Go!” icon next to the “Oil & Gas Location Assessment Permits (Form 2A)” under “Pending Permits”
  4. Click on the “Document Number (Public Comment Link)” that corresponds to the permit you want to comment on
  5. Click “Make Comment” button
  6. Fill out the comment and click “Submit Comment”!

Making a public comment (with screenshots)

  1. Go to COGCC website
  2. Click on “Permits”
  • Click on the “Go!” icon next to the “Pending Oil & Gas Location Assessment (Form 2A)” under “Pending Permits”
  • Click on the “Document Number (Public Comment Link)” that corresponds to the permit you want to comment on
  • Click “Make Comment” button
  • Fill out the comment and click “Submit Comment”!

What to look for on the 2A forms

  1. Residential Building Units (RBUs) in the area (supposed to be at least 2,000 ft away)
  2. Apartment buildings (HOBUs) in the area (supposed to be at least 2,000 ft away)
  3. School Facility in the area 
  4. Child Care Center in the area 
  5. Exemption requests 
  6. Floodplain
  7. Water supply area
  8. Upgradient from a wetland
  9. High Priority Habitat (HPH) for wildlife
  10. Wildlife habitat (500 ft from wildlife habitat) 
  11. Rivers, streams, lakes
  12. Disproportionately Impacted Communities
  13. There is a summary section towards the bottom of the 2A forms that is helpful & consolidates all concerns mentioned in the form. It is titled “Operator Comments and Submittal”

The Link to the Oil and Gas Development Plans page as referenced above:


by Rick Casey, with assistance from other members of the Larimer Alliance

Wednesday, October 20, 2021, the COGGC Commissioners heard public testimony during an important hearing: whether to renew the operating license for Wellington Operating Company’s three permits for its RIBs (Rapid Infill Basins), or pits, for another five years. In the end they approved the permits but not before they heard five powerful testimonies from the local community and read numerous comments from the public.

The Larimer Alliance has been aware of Wellington Operating’s (WO) dumping of produced water into RIBS or pits into the Boxelder Creek alluvial for some time and knew the permits for the pits were coming up for renewal this Fall 2021.

The produced water from WO oil field is created when the oil wells pump water from deep aquifers containing the oil. After the oil is removed with Enhanced Oil Recyclers (EORs), the remaining water is either injected back 5,000 feet into the aquifer where it came from, or it is lightly treated and dumped into the RIBs or pits located in northern Larimer County, south of E CR 70 and N CR 11. Wellington Operating estimated two thirds of the total wastewater is injected and one third is dumped into the pits. The pits allow wastewater to enter the groundwater flowing under them to be carried down the Boxelder Creek watershed to the Cache la Poudre River.

This might remind readers of the old saying, “Dilution is the Solution to Pollution” and now, even when we know this pollution never goes away, this concept is still being used as a means of disposing contaminants. To justify this, the industry and governments call this dumping to groundwater a “beneficial use” or “recycling” and “waste minimization” — all euphemisms crafted by industry to conceal their highly negative environmental effects. We believe Larimer County and the COGCC should be describing these pollutants more accurately.

This water is toxic due to the naturally occurring radioactive particles, salty brine, heavy metals, and oil and gas contaminants that are commonly found in it. There are also additional chemicals added to this wastewater to prevent bio-fouling in the pipes which adds to the toxicity of the water. The permit provided details on the process of treatment of this wastewater and included numerous tests for contaminants including for PFAS, the so-called forever chemicals, and one was found in a very small quantity. This triggered the Commissioners to require PFAS testing of this water at least once per year and more often, if any are found.

It is likely more contaminants are in this water but exactly what they are won’t be known unless oil and gas operators are required to have water quality lab tests for others and then required to report them to the COGCC. The industry is self-regulated so operators not regulators take the samples and submit them to labs. Should this be allowed?

The COGCC Commissioners also required WO to notify Larimer County in any future actions after Matt Sura, an oil and gas attorney for Larimer County government, entered the discussion during the hearing and asked that the Commissioners pause the hearing until Larimer County is able to review the permit. The Commissioners declined to consider this request but from now on the County will be informed of any permit action by Wellington Operating. According to the COGCC Director, notification to Larimer County about this permit reissue was not legally required.


On Tuesday, September 28, Doug Henderson delivered these remarks in the Administrative Matters meeting of the Larimer Board of County Commissioners. Tim Gosar, Gayla Martinez, Cory Caroll, and Jonathan Singer (LOGIC’s new executive director) also made comments to the Board:

Good morning Commissioners,

In a Tues morning BoCC meeting in June, we addressed the problem of
harmful, often illegal, emissions from oil & gas facilities – emissions
that damage people’s health, degrade air quality, and gravely harm our
planet’s climate.

We presented evidence about such emissions from a Prospect Energy
facility northeast of Fort Collins, including imaging of the emissions
taken by Earthworks in January and March 2021. A local resident also
told of his experience, health impacts, and harm suffered for years from
toxic emissions from this facility.

After the January investigation by Earthworks, a complaint was submitted
to the state, and Prospect subsequently said it had stopped the leaks
and emissions.

The next investigation in March showed that the facility was still
leaking, and another complaint was submitted to the state.

Prospect then actually made some repairs, and the leaks and emissions
stopped. At least temporarily.

But before long, local residents again were suffering from emissions
from this facility. So in early September, Earthworks investigated
again. Here is video from that investigation – which shows the facility
was leaking again

The illegal emissions documented in January, March, and September this
year are not the first. CDPHE cited Prospect last November for
regulatory non-compliance and illegal emissions at this facility – for
violations documented in November 2018, June 2019, and October 2019.

(A copy of the letter from CDPHE to Prospect Energy is attached.)

Only 2 months after CDPHE’s warning letter to Prospect, Earthworks
documented the January 2021 violation. Then came more documented
violations – in March and again earlier this month.

A few weeks ago, Earthworks also documented illegal emissions from
another Prospect facility in the Hearthfire neighborhood

Unfortunately these emissions happen at O&G sites all the time. This is
oil & gas business as usual, how the industry has operated for decades.

Colorado law is clear: protection of public health holds priority in oil
& gas development. Larimer County’s oil & gas regulations uphold this law.

It is time to protect public health and the environment from these
harmful and illegal emissions.

It is also time to hold Prospect Energy fully accountable for its record
as a repeat violator.

Thank you for your attention to this.

Doug Henderson

Doug, along with our colleagues in Earthworks, has also been maintaining communication with Cassie Archuleta, Air Quality Program Manager for the City of Fort Collins, bringing attention to these sites Northeast of Fort Collins. Particular attention has been paid to one located near the Hearthfire neighborhood.

the BOULDERAIR tour rocked!

Thanks to efforts by Councilwomen Laurie Anderson of Broomfield, and to Andrew Forkes-Gudmunson of LOGIC, an idea for a tour became a reality last week. On short notice, a select crowd of community leaders, including some of from the Larimer Alliance, were asked if they would like to attend a tour of one of BoulderAIR‘s monitoring stations. Would a few of us be interested in attending the tour, at noon on Thursday, September 23, 2021?

You betcha! was the response. The organizers were trying to limit it to about a half dozen, but nearly twice that number showed up. People were from Broomfield, Fort Collins, and Loveland, including past Colorado legislator Mike Foote, who helped craft the historic SB-181 legislation.

The monitoring station from a distance

When we arrived at the Soaring Eagle Park in Broomfield, Dr Helmig, the CEO of BoulderAIR, was just finishing up a tour provided to members of the Aurora city government; so it was a busy tour day!

The previous tour group almost done

The Soaring Eagle Park in Broomfield is located in the Anthem housing development, which does have expansive views:

Looking north, where Longs Peak is visible in the distance

Unfortunately, this upscale housing development is also home to fracked wells, some just a few hundred feet from homes, which were drilled in the years prior to SB-181. Hence the strong interest by local government in getting such monitoring stations installed.

A stable tower anchors the mobile trailer that houses all the equipment, and provides the means of attaching the various sensors that record environmental conditions and air pollution:

Dr. Helmig explaining the various sensors

The trailer contains sophisticated equipment, worth tens of thousands of dollars, and analyzes the air samples in real time, and automatically publishing the data on the BoulderAIR website in less than 15 minutes. The equipment is under constant maintenance and calibration; though largely automated, the entire system nonetheless needs a good deal of tender loving care to keep it in good operating condition.

The big silver tubes connect to an air conditioner, which prevents the trailer from getting too hot inside

The presentation wrapped up with an explanation of the key piece of equipment: a gas chromatograph. The heart of the machine is this delicate part:

The orange coil is the heart of a gas chromatograph: a 50 meter long glass tube, barely a couple of millimeters wide, through which the gas sample travels

On the same site is another sampling station, an AJAX system, which is not part of BoulderAIR, but which Broomfield contracted to build prior to contracting with BoulderAIR:

An AJAX station, with an air sampling canister

The Soaring Eagle BoulderAIR station has the most complete set of sensors of any of the seven stations that they operate. It went into operation in April 2020, and has helped Broomfield identify several local pollutants, even ones not associated with oil and gas. There are two new fracked wells that went in within the past two years within about a mile radius; a third well’s drilling rig was just visible about a mile to the southeast from this site, which is being drilled now. So the city has ample reason for wanting a monitoring station in this area.

Partial screenshot from the BoulderAIR website showing the live data from the Soaring Eagle station

To see the graphs for yourself, browse to

(Best viewed on a laptop or desktop screen)

One of the many interesting facts that Dr. Helmig mentioned during the tour was that this station measured 40 days of non-compliance for ozone this past summer; the recommended threshold for maintaining human health set by the EPA is FOUR DAYS — in other words, this location in Broomfield was 10 TIMES THE RECOMMENDED SAFE THRESHOLD FOR SURFACE OZONE THIS SUMMER! It would be interesting indeed to study the data from those days and find out what percentage of the VOCs causing the ozone were from oil and gas sources versus VOCs coming from vehicular pollution. Why hasn’t this been done, one might wonder?

Well, apparently the state of Colorado is not interested in pursuing that question; and Broomfield does not have the expertise in-house to answer it either. But if BoulderAIR had the resources to hire more qualified staff, they could answer the question for us. But, as Dr. Helmig joked, you can’t just put out a Craigslist ad for this kind of job! Up until now, he has been so busy keeping the monitors going, his small team has not been able to pursue such questions; that might change in the future if BoulderAIR could hire more staff.

As far as anyone knows, these monitoring stations are unique: there are simply no other monitoring stations in the US, or in the world for that matter, that can match their analytical capability. Given the extreme amounts of ozone and, on occasion when accidents happen at oil and gas sites, dangerous amounts of other toxic chemicals that go wafting over the landscape, it would seem a no-brainer that more of these stations need to get built, AND more powerful regulations put in place to allow the state and local governments to shut down chronic pollution sources.

The Larimer Alliance is engaging with the city and county departments to support the installation of one or more such monitoring stations in the county, and support the important work of BoulderAIR. We will keep you posted of developments!

Larimer Alliance Blog