Response from Council Candidate Nick Armstrong

District One Candidate Nick Armstrong provided this response to our questionnaire:

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.

My campaign is almost 100% funded by direct friends, family, or neighbors that I know. I’m not aware of any contributions that meet these criteria and not sure how I’d track this as all donations I receive are made individually without context. My financial reports and donor records are publicly available on the City Clerk’s website. Neighbors are certainly welcome to bring up a concern with me directly and I’d address this on a case-by-case basis.

  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? 

Fort Collins should very closely follow State standards and be a leader in modeling how to transition away from O&G dependency by making our neighborhoods more walkable with creative solutions and investments. We have a bit of a history of being sued in this space; so whatever we do must be done mindfully without incurring the wrath of an entire industry to offset the operations of one business, wasting Fort Collins’ operating budget that could be better utilized to help make our neighborhoods more healthy, walkable, and usable.

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.

Yes… and nobody wants to live next to an active well and in general, having active wells next to homes is a really bad idea not just for the air quality impact but the health issues and other externalities(spills/water table impact) that can occur. There’s effectively one operator in FoCo city limits and a de facto ban won’t solve the problem outright. There are other mechanisms we can put into play that won’t get the City sued and won’t put a huge target on our back while also earning the ire of an entire industry (and all the neighbors who also work in that industry). Solving this durably without getting the City sued will take a more creative approach.

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. 

Again, I don’t legally know how that plays out. Business is all about trades and compromises, so if we can leverage creative solutions in this area to apply setbacks and have a legally durable solution… let’s do it. My mind is open and the City staff is incredibly smart and hardworking. We have some of the best minds in renewable energy in our backyard. Let’s work on making the trade-off worth it for everyone while also protecting our neighbors from the worst outcomes.

  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)? 

Big picture: air quality monitoring, reporting, and corrective measures and partnerships with local municipalities to help improve air quality. 

More immediate: most neighborhoods in District 1 are not walkable, bikeable, or connected to each other or the rest of Fort Collins. Making our neighborhoods more walkable, bikeable, and usable, we’d be able to have an immediate impact on our air quality. Even to get the kids to school from two blocks away requires a car according to neighbors I’ve spoken to in District 1. That’s a twice-daily car trip that could be eliminated for most families within biking range of their local elementary school – all for the cost of a paved trail. That’s a very easy investment.

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, 100% and required at the STATE level.

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, 100% and required at the STATE level, but ideally could be established in partnership to help with job retraining, retooling, and augmentation in the renewable energy space for workers in this industry to help offset the costs associated with such a program.

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. Externalities are externalities and accountability is required in every business.

  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, in particular and if possible, expansion of the purchasing agreements for the hydroelectric power generated from the plants along Lake Grandby and establishment of hydroelectric power generation corridors in partnership with Federal-level efforts.

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.

Yes, interim goals are important progress markers and make pathways easier to understand and advocate for from local leaders and the public.

  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. 

We can make the case (especially with PSD, CSU, and FRCC right here in our community) that a more lucrative investment could be made to augment our clean energy future in partnership with those same O&G companies who’d do the work so we don’t leave our neighbors working in the O&G industry behind. In particular, expanding our ability to store energy from renewable sources, leverage hydroelectric power generation, and creating energy efficiency, interconnectivity, resiliency, and redundancy gains. O&G workers are very creative and hard-working, if we help employers focus on a new challenge, let’s make it worth everyone’s while.

NickForFoCo.com

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