Mayoral Candidate Gerry Horak provided this response to our questionnaire:
- 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.
I have never received or accepted campaign contributions from donors and companies from the O&G industry or with strong financial interests in O&G development. I suspect this has not been an issue because to date within Fort Collins city limits there is limited potential for O&G development. A field first developed in 1923 does exist in north Fort Collins in the Heartfire development along Douglas Road.
- 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. The city council is currently considering adopting regulations to protect public health, safety, environment and wildlife resources. I support their initiative on this and will review such actions to ascertain if additional measures are needed. I will consult with citizens and review measures taken by other local governments to ensure public health, safety, environment and wildlife resources.
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. To the maximum extent possible we need to protect people for the negative health impacts from close proximity to O&G development. The setback distance should be based on sound science.
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. If data shows that a single operating well has demonstrated adverse effects on human health. The length of the setback should be governed by that data.
- 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 think Fort Collins should do to address its air quality problem(s)?
Ozone is the major air quality issue for Fort Collins and the North Front Range. Currently we have two air quality monitors. We need to expand our monitoring in collaboration with other city, county and state efforts coordinating with the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC). I served on this council for seven years and I am quite familiar with the problem and the difficulty of addressing it by voluntary compliance. According to the RAQC O&G operations and facilities are the major contributor of volatile organic compounds (44%) and a major contributor of nitrogen oxides (NOx). Fossil fuel vehicles are the major contributor of NOx (32%). We need to reduce VOX and NOx releases from the major sources: O&G operations and facilities as well as fossil fuel powered vehicles. The former can best be accomplished by state regulations. The later can be affected by local actions to encourage non-emission vehicles, use of alternative transportation and reduced use of fossil fuel vehicles. The city should be a leading the community is changing their fleet to non-emission vehicles as soon as possible.
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. The creator of the pollutant should be held accountable to pay for the monitoring of their externality. The state should develop regulations to require such monitoring be paid by the operator. Just as important are regular inspections to ensure releases are minimized.
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 and Yes. My answers above stated by support for a regional approach and the RAQC is well suited to coordinate those efforts. Boulder and Weld counties O&G operations and facilities are major contributors to air quality problems in Fort Collins.
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.
If needed at first blush is maybe. However my preference would be state regulations that significantly reduce releases from O&G operations and facilities. Stricter federal regulations would be needed to address fossil fuel vehicles that are also the first or second largest sources of NOx and VOX. Individual polluters would include owners and operators of fossil fuel vehicles and I just don’t see legal action against myself and others.
- 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. I was a member of PRPA board when the resolution was adopted in 2019. In fact I led the effort to adopt the resolution. PRPA made a serious communication error in only presenting one scenario in their plan for 2030. The likelihood of achieving 100% clean energy goal by 2030 is possible given certain improvements in technology and markets. For some reason they only discussed a known method versus likely options. If elected I work to correct this miscommunication.
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. I support a target implementation plan with actions to be achieved by 2 or 3 year increments.
- 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.
Hard to say at this time given they don’t own anything and not clear what they are planning much less when they will apply for a permit. Strong opposition would need to be based on fact. If they meet the O&G development regulations developed by the city and county I don’t know how the city could take a strong position to actively oppose the O&G development. We will need to discuss the proposed O&G development with the investment company to minimize the adverse impacts on Soapstone Prairie Natural Area.