I spent Monday at the COGCC rule making hearing for recommendations 17 and 20 from the rigged Governor’s Task Force. After political maneuvering took away our hopes of a ballot initiative last fall, we were left with a task force loaded with industry and supporters.
There were 2 recommendations from the task force that might have provided a little, limited relief to citizens. However, even that was too much for COGCC and the industry allow. We are now left with rules that bear little resemblance to the original recommendations. As currently written, they will result in even more placement of wells next to our homes, schools and businesses. Cities and counties will have no power to stop them.
The day was spent with witnesses testifying. The commissioners sat with bored expressions on their faces and some spent the time on their phones and computers.
Industry and supporters spent their time raging against a sentence in the proposed rules which put a time limit on the how long the drilling and fracking processes can take.
The other side of the equation was the citizens and activist groups. There were many new activists at the meeting. (Every time a new area is fracked, more activists are born.) All of these new activists go through a stage, just as I did, hopeful that they can find the right words to reach those in power.
It was heart wrenching to watch people testify and pour out their hearts in a plea for mercy while I sat there with the knowledge that the game is already rigged against them. People came from across the state to tell their stories: Battlement Mesa, Paonia, Thornton, Wadley Farms, Greeley and Pleasant View. Boulder County and Adams County Commissioners came to plead for their citizens.
A few months ago several of us came to the realization that the COGCC doesn’t care and will never protect us. CAF staged a walk out at the stakeholders meeting in Greeley, letting them know we are aware that they don’t care.
So, I didn’t bother to prepare any remarks. I didn’t bore them further with tales of the latest health studies. I didn’t tell them about fear for my grandchildren.
The task force was a bust. We knew it would not give us any relief from the dangers of fracking. Our governor and the COGCC don’t care and won’t act to protect us.
Now we will take the next step. We will band together and get a ballot initiative on the ballot next fall. Then we will work with our partners to get it passed. It is time to send the fossil fuel industry into the fossil bin where it belongs. It is time for a renewable, sustainable future. We will build it together.
Comments made at EPA hearing on Methane Rules. September 23, 2015
As I was preparing for this I thought what should I tell the EPA?
I could tell you that methane is 86 times more potent than CO2 as a green house gas. But you already know that.
I could tell you that everyone touts the Colorado methane regulations, but the methane and other toxins in our air here have increased. But you already know that.
I could tell you that Methane and the other VOC’s from fracking are contributing to very high ozone here, so high that the American Lung Association gave us an F and you, the EPA have labeled us as a non attainment area. But you already know that.
I could tell you that methane is leaking not only from fracking extraction sites, but at every point along the way. But you already know that.
I could tell you that along with the methane spewing out of these wells it brings with it VOC’s that are dangerous to our health. But you already know that.
I could tell you that the amount of methane leaking is known to be vastly under estimated. But you already know that.
I could tell you that methane is going to drastically increase global warming which will adversely affect all parts of the world with sea level rise, droughts, wild fires, habitat destruction, and more frequent severe weather. But you already know that.
But Have you thought of the consequences of that?
I decided I would read you a poem by Drew Dellinger
‘It’s 3.23 in the morning and I’m awake
Because my great-great-grandchildren won’t let me sleep.
My great-great-grandchildren ask me in dreams
“What did you do while the Planet was plundered?
What did you do when the Earth was unravelling?
Surely you did *something* when the Seasons started failing?
As the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
Did you fill the streets with protest when Democracy was stolen?
What did you *do* once you knew?” ‘
When you turn a blind eye to fracking, you are participating in the war against the future of our children, which is being waged by the fossil fuel industry.
So here is what I will tell you. There is no need for new regulations. The President has the power and needs to have the courage to eliminate all new wells and should do so immediately. The EPA needs reclaim their power to enforce all the regulations that were ended with the Halliburton loophole. All current wells that are non compliant need to be closed if compliance isn’t met within a month. Enforcement of the Clean air, Clean water, RCRA and other regulations with severe immediate consequences must happen. This would have an immediate effect on our environmental degradation and on the US contribution to climate change. Don’t say it can’t be done. It can. Put people to work building an infrastructure for the future instead of export terminals for fossil fuels.
Tell President Obama and the head of the EPA: You KNOW. Now what will you do?
When I was trying to decide what to write for this occasion I saw another one of those commercials. You know the commercials? The ads that are from Noble or some other part of the industry. I thought: I know what I can do. I could do talk that is a version of 3 truths and a lie. 3 Truths and a Lie is an ice breaker game where you give three true facts about yourself and 1 lie. The rest of the team then decides what is true. Here’s my new game called: Many Lies and Little Truth. It should be a fun game. I will give you statements and you tell me truth or lie. Here we go. Yell out your answers.
- Let’s start with the commercial showing the cute woman who has an organic farm and raises goats and allows fracking on her land because it is so safe. Is fracking safe? Truth or lie? What I hear is that she does have an organic farm, does raise goats, she just leases her mineral rights that are not on her organic farm but allows the wells next to some other family.
By the way the punch line that those of us who are trying to stop fracking, get her goat, makes me feel a little crazy.
- Water has never been contaminated by fracking? Lie, we have tons of evidence that it has been contaminated. Plus, it is not normal for water to light on fire.
- Fracking has been done safely for 65 years! LIE? Yes another lie. The current form of high pressure, high volume, hydraulic fracking started in the late 90’s. And has never been safe.
- We need this oil and gas to be energy independent. Lie: they are trying to get the export ban lifted. They are building terminals on both coasts and the gulf to be ready to export. That doesn’t sound like they need it for us to be energy independent. This is simply about corporate profits.
- There is a commercial with a cute mother with the soccer kids. She says wouldn’t support any industry that pollutes. Does this industry pollute? Yes a LIE. She is supporting fracking which is polluting our air. We are a non-attainment area for Ozone across much of the state. The American Lung Association gave many of us an F for air quality. This industry pollutes the air with deadly toxins and is putting our children at risk. She probably lives in a gated community up the mountain out of this filthy air.
- The economy of Colorado will collapse if oil and gas industry is not allowed to continue full speed ahead with fracking. The economics of fracking is usually stated in an inflated way. They count the worker and also use a formula to also count people in the area where he works, so the barber, the person who checks out his groceries…and so on. The truth is: -According to the Department of Commerce, oil and gas accounts for less than 1 % of the jobs in CO. That’s about 30,000 jobs. It is estimated that transitioning to renewables would create 87,000 jobs in Colorado.
- Governor Hickenlooper’s task force gave citizens of Colorado a voice in oil and gas operations. Why is Governor Hickenlooper protecting a dangerous, industrial practice instead of creating jobs, saving tax payer money, and protecting our health, air and water by transitioning to renewables? Why is he suing the citizens who voted to keep this dangerous industry out of our communities?
- The oil and gas industry is heavily regulated. They are exempt from several federal acts including the clean air, clean water and RCRA which is about toxic waste disposal. If they were safe why do they need these exemptions?
- Governor Hickenlooper frequently states that Colorado has the strictest methane rules in the country. California’s Governor says they have the strictest regulations. TWO Lies. Flir camera video show how much toxic air pollution s rolling off the well pads. Methane leaks from the point of fracking to production on through to consumption. Every point is a potential leak. All these methane leaks are contributing to climate change. Recent studies reveal that the amount of methane leaking has been vastly underestimated.
- Fracking is a dirty disgusting form of extreme energy production. It is responsible for air, water, land pollution, habit destruction, and unhealthy communities. TRUTH
If you haven’t testified yet, go tell the EPA to listen to the truth, listen to scientists not industry lobbyists. Tell the EPA that fracking is never safe. The EPA needs to lead us to a future free from fossil fuel!
Below is the new Declaration Rejecting the legitimacy of the COGCC. On August 3rd this was delivered to Matt LePore, Director of COGCC, at a hearing in Greeley. As we prepared for the hearings, we realized that no matter what we said when we testify, how many personal stories of harm people experienced, or how many scientific studies we give them, they are unfazed. The COGCC is serving as a rubber stamp agency for the this Extreme Extraction Industry and doesn’t care that communities are being polluted. It is time to say ENOUGH. Join us as we continue to tell COGCC, the Governor and Legislators that they cannot continue to put our communities in harms way
Declaration Rejecting the Legitimacy of the
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has failed in its mission to:
“protect the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens and
protect the welfare of the environment and wildlife resources”.
We, Coloradans Against Fracking, find it necessary to reject the authority of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to make decisions that negatively impact our health, our air, our water, and our land, or violate the will of the voters seeking to protect their health, air quality, water quality, or property from the impacts of oil and gas extraction. Therefore, it is our duty to continue to work to genuinely protect the people, wildlife and the environment of the state of Colorado.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Mission Statement:
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was created “to foster oil and gas development in the state of Colorado while protecting public health, safety, and welfare, including the protection and welfare of the environment and wildlife resources.”
Nothing about the current heavy industrial processes used to extract oil and gas is compatible with maintaining public health, safety and welfare or protecting the environment and wildlife resources. Toxic air pollution, explosions, fires, earthquakes, and toxic spills contaminating ground water & polluting rivers and streams all continue to occur. As drilling and transport of raw materials and waste increases, so does the incidence of “accidents”. The COGCC’s actions and regulations have not stopped the spills, accidents or earthquakes. Compatibility between this heavy, toxic industry and public health, safety and welfare is not possible within such close proximity of human activity.
Research, studies, data:
The dangerously irresponsible actions taken, or not taken, by the COGCC are not from a lack of competence. They are the result of selective interpretation by the COGCC of the edict written by the Colorado legislature defining their duty. By choosing to define their mission from the industry’s point of view, the COGCC gives themselves permission to ignore scientific documentation, data and empirical observation that prove toxic, adverse effects to our air, water, soil, health and property caused by oil & gas development: and to reference only studies solicited by and for industry when creating rules and regulations. The COGCC chooses to ignore the many peer reviewed, scientific studies made available to them. What may be the most offensive and harmful action of all, is that members of the COGCC choose to ignore the many personal testimonies of Coloradans who have been harmed by oil & gas development.
The actions of the COGCC demonstrate that the processes established to provide opportunity for public input and participation are intended only to create a false sense of security for the public; a facade meant to lure a trusting public into submission and complacency – with the secondary purpose of deflecting any and all who might challenge the authority of the COGCC to permit drilling when and wherever the industry chooses. Any comment, criticism or testimony that is not in support of the industry may be listened to, but are ultimately ignored.
COGCC regulations, insistently touted as the strongest in the country, are empty words created to provide a false sense of security. Monitoring and reporting is largely left to the industry with notice given in advance of inspection. Self-regulation amounts to no regulation. Token fines may be imposed in instances when a fine is legally required. These minimum fines are often dismissed when the company accepts the choice of performing community service. Here the COGCC has been consistent. They regularly apply no fine or a minimum fine for industry violations.
Coloradans Against Fracking says enough.
We, the people, simply cannot and will not recognize the legitimacy of a commission whose actions are detrimental to our health and safety, and to the health and safety of future generations. By both their actions and inaction, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission constantly and consistently fails to fulfill its mission and by doing so, fails to protect us, the residents of the state they are charged with protecting.
Therefore, Coloradans Against Fracking must, in all moral conscience, reject any authority the failed Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission claims to hold, and will continue to work to truly protect the citizens, wildlife and the environment of the state of Colorado.
#17 defines the size of well pads within our communities. #20 allows oil and gas to dictate where within our cities they plan to drill in the future, so that space would be held and available for them to drill. Neither give local governments or citizens any protection from extreme energy production. Both serve the industry; providing more evidence that the COGCC works for the industry they are charged with promoting, not for the citizens with whom they are charged with protecting.