Response from Council Candidate Susan Gutowsky

District One Candidate Susan Gutowsky provided this response to our questionnaire:

Thank you for your leadership in Fort Collins and your commitment and dedication to seek the office of Mayor and City Council.  We look forward to your responses.

  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, I have not received nor would I accept a campaign contribution from donors and companies from the O&G industry.
  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?  

  • The City of Fort Collins should adopt regulations including but not limited to 2500 foot setbacks on all schools, residences, medical facilities.
  • Halt new oil and gas applications
  • Disallow re-fracks
  • Require some form of bond or cash deposit from existing oil and gas operators to finance future clean up or other responsibilities necessary due to current or abandoned well operation or retirement that protects the environment, municipality, State, and citizens from harm.

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, I do support that. Given that our City voted for a 5-year moratorium on fracking pending the results of studies regarding the health impacts of fracking and we now have a body of peer-reviewed research showing that it is harmful. We should not be allowing new permit applications. Furthermore, at this point, given our water shortages and transition to renewable energy, I see no reason why we should allocate resources to Oil & Gas. We should focus on the future of energy in our City.

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, the reverse setback should be the same as any other setback. For example, the setbacks are increased to 2500 ft. a reverse setback should be the same.  This is about public health and safety not profit or affordable housing.
  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 study found 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 you think Fort Collins should do to address its air quality problem(s)?  

  • One of the things we need to do is focus very intensely on building out our multimodal transportation options to get people out of their cars. We can control that.
  • We need to work through intergovernmental programs to incentivise the use of solar energy. It should be as easy to transfer the monthly payment between owners as utility bills and should not count against their debt to income ratio.  If we can help with that as a municipality we should. Likewise, we should do the same thing for backup power technology like solar walls (batteries) to ensure homeowners can have power to heat their homes whether the sun is shining or not.

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, I would support 24/7 real time monitoring of air quality and emissions at all O&G sites and facilities in proximity to Fort Collins. Operators should be responsible for their own overhead and it is their responsibility to protect public ehealth and safety if they wish to do business in our city.

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 for the same reason stated above.

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.

  • I as a single council person would not be able to make that decision.  
  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, it is imperative that we do so.

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, it’s important that we know how we are doing so that we can make adjustments along the way to ensure that we meet our goals. What we do not want to happen is to get down the road, realize we are not on target then not have enough time to course correct in order to meet the goal.
  1. An investment company is advancing a proposal to 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.

  • Absolutely. For all of the reasons stated above.


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