District Four Candidate Melanie Potyondy 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 not, nor will I, accept endorsements or contributions from donors or companies from the oil and gas industry, nor associated entities. I am a strong proponent of social and environmental health and do not believe support from the oil and gas industry would reflect these values.
- 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?
I do believe the City of Fort Collins should adopt the new regulations or impose even more stringent regulations within our municipality. I do not believe drilling or fracking should be occurring within our City.
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.
I support the maximum allowable setback distances from the listed types of structures and resources. I am markedly concerned about the potential for negative health and/or environmental impacts of oil and gas development in our community.
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.
I support limiting exceptions. 500 feet seems to be a minimal requirement and, although I would certainly consider proposals that come before me in Council, I am apt to support the maximum amount of distance possible between homes and oil and gas facilities.
- 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)?
I believe the city must be assertive in pursuing steps that will improve air quality. In residential/commercial development and transportation planning, we must always be looking through a lens that allows us to increase walking and biking opportunities and decrease driving, as through expansion of bike trails, creation of safe intersections, and pursuit of mixed-use development. Likewise, we must increase our fund of achievable housing options in the city to de-incentivize commuting into Fort Collins from adjacent, less expensive communities. Additionally, for situations that are not conducive to zero emission forms of transit, we must both expand and improve our public transportation options and incentivize their use; it is imperative that we make less polluting forms of transit easier than and preferable to driving. Finally, incentivization of electric vehicles for both city and personal vehicles (including maintenance and landscaping vehicles) is critical. I am also in support of continued expansion of alternative energy sources. This should include improvements to city facilities to make them carbon neutral over time. Further, I have publicly stated my support for implementing more stringent oil and gas regulations and I maintain interest in pursuing higher emissions standards for industrial/manufacturing facilities.
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.
I support these measures and the proposal that costs be covered by operators. It is important that we monitor the air quality impacts of oil and gas development and the funds required to do so should be considered a cost of doing business in the oil and gas industry.
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.
I support air quality monitoring regionally, as the City of Fort Collins is the recipient of out-of-town oil and gas operations’ pollutants. I believe the costs for doing so should be absorbed by developers for the 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 believe it would be prudent for me to examine the legal standards and procedures that might be involved in such an undertaking prior to committing to these actions. However, I do support the right of our City (and those that are like-minded about health and environmental safety) to take action about the impacts levied by neighboring communities’ industrial activities.
- 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 take aggressive action to combat climate change as we have reached a critical point for halting its progression.
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 targets might add an increased sense of urgency to make substantial and timely change, and might also allow for better progress-monitoring and adjustment of course should improvement not be as required to meet the overall goal.
- 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. Not only am I concerned about the immediate and potential long-term health and environmental impacts that might stem from such development, but I believe we must shift our focus and resources away from oil and gas development, in general, and toward alternative energy sources.