Response from Council Candidate Kelly Ohlson

District Five Candidate Kelly Ohlson provided this response to our questionnaire:

Candidate Ohlson Response to our Survey

  1. Have you received, will you accept, or will you refuse to accept campaign contributions from donors and companies from the O&G industry or with strong financial interests in O&G development? If your campaign has already accepted O&G donations, will it give them back? Please explain.

No to received. No to accept. Yes to refuse.

  1. SB19-181 substantially revised Colorado’s law governing O&G development: establishing clear priority to protect public health, safety, environment, and wildlife resources. SB181 also provides for significant local government authority to regulate O&G development, allowing local governments to increase protection of public health, safety, environment and wildlife resources beyond state minimum standards.

Do you think that Fort Collins should adopt new regulations for O&G development? If yes, what scope of regulations will you advocate the City to adopt? 

Yes, whatever is necessary to protect air and water quality, wildlife, and public health and safety, among others.

A substantial body of peer-reviewed scientific research shows significant negative health impacts from close proximity to O&G operations.

Do you support a 2000’ or 2500’ setback from homes, schools & their playgrounds, high occupancy buildings, outdoor recreation areas (such as parks and trails), and water sources from new O&G operations? Please explain.

Probably. I’m not current on the latest science and data—but my lifelong record of effective leadership and policy making on environmental issues and public health is an indicator of my likely support if such buffers are justified.

Fort Collins currently has a reverse setback of 500’ for new residential construction from existing O&G facilities, and allows exceptions for reduced reverse setbacks.

Do you support increasing the reverse setback without exception? Please explain. 

Yes, in order to protect human health and safety.

  1. The American Lung Association gives Fort Collins’ air quality an “F” grade, and ranks it the 19th worst out of 229 American cities. NCAR’s FRAPPÉ studyfound conclusively that O&G emissions are the major driver of unhealthy air quality in the northern Front Range. Emissions from O&G operations also cause significant spikes in pollutants that impact 1) local areas in proximity to O&G sites and facilities, and 2) regional air quality harming entire Front Range communities. A growing number of local governments have undertaken air quality monitoring programs capable of measuring and reporting pollutants in real time, including signature pollutants emitted from O&G operations and facilities.

What do think Fort Collins should do to address its air quality problem(s)? 

A whole lot. A significant first step would be to acknowledge the science of how poor our air quality really is and to continually inform Fort Collins residents about the severity of this issue. Then, we should have a real plan that prioritizes actions items and lays out a timetable and specific funding to implement the plan.

Would you support 24/7 monitoring and real-time reporting of air quality and emissions at all O&G sites and facilities in proximity to Fort Collins? Should this monitoring and reporting be paid for by the operator? Please explain.

Yes and Yes. Facilities should pay for their own monitoring of oil and gas sites and facilities. (It is a fairness issue.)

Would you support 24/7 monitoring and real-time reporting of air quality and signature O&G pollutant emissions for addressing regional air quality problems affecting Fort Collins? Should this regional monitoring and reporting be paid for by the O&G industry? Please explain. 

Yes to regional monitoring and reporting. The cost should be shared by various entities including city, county, state and federal governments who could recover some of the costs by implementing an air quality monitoring fee system. The legalities and complexities for charging only oil and gas companies could significantly slow this important undertaking.

Would you support collaboration by Fort Collins with other Front Range communities in taking legal action against polluters responsible for emissions that harm Fort Collins air quality, such as polluters in neighboring counties? Please explain.

Yes, however, I would first put our energies into a robust multi-faceted compliance program. If our goals are not met, then legal action is an appropriate option.

  1. Fort Collins is one of four municipalities that own and govern the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) which provides electricity to the four municipalities including Fort Collins. In 2019, PRPA committed to achieving 100% clean energy generation by 2030. PRPA recently adopted a plan that includes building and operating a new natural gas-powered turbine around the same time it retires its Rawhide Coal Plant, which will be in conflict with PRPA’s stated commitment to 100% clean energy.

Would you support holding PRPA to the goal of 100% clean energy by 2030? Please explain.

Yes, hold PRPA to its 2030 goal. You don’t lower the bar to ensure meeting a goal. What happens is then organizations often say they can’t even meet the new weakened goal.

Would you support requiring PRPA to establish and report with interim targets (such as for 2023, 2025, 2027) for achieving 100% clean energy? Please explain.

Absolutely—it just makes practical and political sense to do so. It keeps PRPA more accountable with fewer surprises and excuses for unmet goals.

  1. An investment company is advancing a proposalto drill hundreds of wells in northern Larimer County which could negatively impact local residents, air quality, City-owned natural area and wildlife, and the environment in northern Larimer County.

Would you take a strong position for the City to actively oppose this type of O&G development? Please explain.

Yes. As a leader of eight campaigns that have conserved our 75,000 acres of open spaces, natural areas and wildlife habitat in Fort Collins and Larimer County, I understand the importance of protecting these rapidly dwindling natural resources. It is our responsibility to protect the taxpayers’ investment in these lands. I started working on air quality issues in Fort Collins and Larimer County as a very young City Councilmember in 1983, so I also understand the impact such activity would have on our health and well being.

https://kellyohlson.com/

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