Public comment about Town of Berthoud Oil & Gas Regulation

Editor’s comment: Berthoud’s Board of Trustees, their city council, is in the process of adopting their version of local oil and gas regulations as a consequence of SB-181 that was passed in 2019. They have hired attorney Mike Foote to assist them to do so; he was one of the principal authors of that law. They were scheduled to hold a meeting on May 28, 204 to allow public comment, where Mr Foote was to lead off with the first public presentation of the new regulations; however, Mr Foote fell ill, and the meeting was postponed.

Nonetheless, I filed these comments earlier that day for the Board’s consideration, which will still be relevant when the meeting is rescheduled.


Greetings Mayor Karspeck and Berthoud Board of Trustees: 

I would respectfully like to submit these written comments for your consideration as part of public input for your meeting tonight on the topic of local regulation of oil and gas operations. 

While I am not a Berthoud resident, I have resided in Fort Collins since 2018, and in the Front Range since 1981. I have been involved in public participation seeking better regulation of local oil and gas operations since 2012, when I helped pass the Lafayette Community Rights Act in 2013. I have taught a course in environmental economics at Front Range Community College since 2012, and was heavily involved in the adoption of the local O&G regs for Fort Collins in 2020, as part of the Larimer Alliance. I have also been in communication with residents in Berthoud who are concerned about the encroaching O&G activity around Berthoud, which could possibly occur within the city limits in the future. Therefore, I think sharing some of our experiences with you could be beneficial.

I believe someone else from the Larimer Alliance will be speaking at this meeting, so I will keep my remarks short. 

It was reassuring to us to see that you hired Mike Foote to help you draft your regulations. We have confidence in Mr Foote that he will help guide you towards crafting strong rules that will help to protect your community’s human safety and environmental quality. 

However, creating regulations is only the beginning, not the end, of the process. Implementation of those regulations is the real crux of the matter, as this is an area that is totally new to local jurisdictions in the O&G area. There is some assistance available here from the ECMC through your liaison contact, and I would urge you to take advantage of that, particularly in the area of technical assistance of O&G drilling and maintenance operations. 

Beyond that, planning ahead and allocating staff time and personnel for monitoring local operations, and responding to community requests resulting from incidents, particularly accidents, will also help to build public trust. The lack of transparency when dealing with the state agencies who regulated O&G in the past has been a barrier to building such trust; that has been slowly changing since the passage of SB-181 in 2019, but still has a ways to go.

Finally, as I’m sure you and your Board are aware, the air pollution from O&G operations is a regional issue, and is not just a matter for any one jurisdiction. The existing agencies for this have not been particularly effective — the lack of compliance with EPA ozone standards since 2004 speaks to this — and local jurisdictions should consider how they can tackle this issue among themselves. This could help to prod the existing agencies into recognizing their past failure, and commit to some new actions for remedy. Therefore, building communication channels between Berthoud and other jurisdictions dealing with this issue is something that we would encourage. 

The local public awareness of this air pollution has been growing in concern and urgency since fracking took off in 2012 in the Front Range. There is mounting recognition of the injustice that so many innocent residents should be made to suffer the harmful effects of this air pollution at the hands of an industry that has operated without contrition, and apparently with a free hand, under past administrations. The Larimer Alliance is striving to assist these injured citizens, and bringing their voice to our local elected officials, and raising awareness of the seriousness of the issue. 

We would welcome you and the Board of Trustees in working towards that same goal, and keeping the public and the environment safe when you adopt your local O&G regulations. 

Thank you. 

Sincerely, 

Rick Casey  

——————————-

webmaster of the following:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *