Category Archives: Elections

18Nov/15
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Time for a Ballot Initiative

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.

10Jul/15
ColoradansAgainstFracking_Logo_Final

JOIN US NOW TO DEMAND LOCAL RIGHTS: Call out the COGCC Rulemaking Sham

I stand by the pessimistic view most of us had of the Blue Ribbon Panel. It was loaded with oil and gas industry executives and other fossil fuel advocates. Only a few (less than a third) were known to be skeptical of the industry’s claims regarding the safety of fracking. Out of this rigged panel came recommendations for COGCC to work on, through rule making. Meetings are now scheduled around the state to get stakeholder input on two of these recommendations.

These two initiatives are both examples of feel good measures that have little chance of improving the lives of citizens who live in the path of the dirty, polluting industry.

I can say this without doubt for two reasons:
1) How the meetings were scheduled. COGCC posted the meeting schedule on July 7th and the first meeting was actually held July 7th. Disturbingly, the location of the meeting was Encana’s downtown Denver office and the meeting was hosted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Colorado Petroleum Association.  The choice of location and hosts makes it painfully clear that the COGCC is putting the interests of the industry ahead of citizens’ interests.

2) The recommendations themselves maintain the state’s ability to deprive local communities of any meaningful power over the actions of the industry within their jurisdictions. From recommendation 17: “Where siting solutions are not possible, the Director would require mitigations to limit the intensity and scale of the operations, as well as other mitigations, to lessen the impacts on neighboring communities.” From recommendation 20: “This proposal is to recommend the framework which will facilitate incorporation of drilling plans into municipal comprehensive planning.”

Neither of these recommendations actually allow a local entity to exercise local control.

An overview of these two recommendations:
Number 17 calls for local government and operators to work together to site “Large Scale Oil and Gas Facilities” in “Urban Mitigation Areas.” The rule making is to adopt a process for local governments to interact with an application to drill, define what constitutes “Large Scale Oil and Gas Facilities,” and define authority and procedures of COGCC when permitting these facilities. The procedure will include “siting tools to keep these away from residential areas when feasible.” (emphasis is mine)
Number 20 calls for local governments to “include incorporating potential oil and gas development into local comprehensive plans.” Operators are to register with local governments if they are planning to drill in the next 5 years and give the number of wells, maps of current and potential well sites and infra structure so that the industry has access to those sites.

Neither of these proposals even hint that we, the citizens living near proposed drilling and fracking sites, may be afforded any power at all in the process. Just more “stand by and get fracked.” It is time to take action! Raise our voices! Please try to attend one of the meetings, and bring your family and friends. Let the COGCC know we are tired of being their guinea pigs in a giant health experiment. Let them know we demand clean air, water and land free from pollution. Let them know we want our democracy back!  Time to BAN FRACKING NOW!

The meetings schedule is below. I hope to see many of you at one or more of these.

July 7, 2015 1:00-3:00 p.m. COGA, CPA, API Encana Oil and Gas 370 17th Street Suite 1700
Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:30 a.m. -12:00 p.m. City and County of Broomfield The Chateau at Fox Meadows 13600 Xavier Lane Broomfield, CO
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 1:30-4:00 p.m. City of Brighton Brighton City Hall, 6th Floor City Council Study Session Rm. 500 S. Fourth Ave
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 1:30-4:00 p.m. Garfield County Grand River Health Conference Facility 501 Airport Road Rifle
Monday, August 3, 2015 5:30-8:00 p.m. Weld County Greeley Administration Building 1150 O Street, Greeley
Thursday August 6th TBD La Plata County La Plata County Administration Building 1101 E. 2nd Avenue Durango, CO

03Jun/15
ToxicChemicals

F is for Failure

I am posting this on behalf of Lauren Swain.

Coloradans Against Fracking
Report Card—June 6, 2015
Evaluating the performance of the Colorado Legislature
and Governor John W. Hickenlooper in their duty to protect Coloradans from the harmful impacts of fracking.

Introduction
The facts included in this report card demonstrate that the Colorado State Legislature and Governor John W. Hickenlooper have failed to protect the people of Colorado from the harmful impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for oil and gas. Because recent scientific studies have shown that fracking operations jeopardize human health and the environment with the introduction of enormous quantities of toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and water,[1] the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has banned fracking. Vermont has also banned the practice, as have the countries of France, Scotland, and Bulgaria. Other states, such as Maryland, and countries, such as Wales, have adopted, or are considering, moratoria and bans on fracking. Coloradans deserve the same protection as the citizens of these states and countries, but, due to the failure of our legislature and Governor to take meaningful action, we continue to suffer increasing risk to our lives, our property, and our democratic rights as the State of Colorado issues more permits for more wells to be drilled and fractured near homes and schools, all while denying local communities their right to restrict these dangerous operations.

Protecting Our Climate—F
Fracking for natural gas, as well as the processing, storage, and distribution of natural gas releases climate-altering methane into the atmosphere. Over a 100-year period, methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate disruptor.[2] Fracking for oil also releases methane, while the consumption of oil is a leading source of the carbon pollution damaging Earth’s climate.[3] Climate change threatens our state with more floods, forest fires, and drought[4]—diminishing our natural resources, destroying homes, and placing additional burdens on Colorado taxpayers and water rate payers.

Protecting Colorado’s Water—F
Oil and gas operators have, on average, spilled 200 gallons of petroleum chemicals per day over the past decade.[5] Over 700,000 gallons of toxic liquids have remained in Colorado soil after initial cleanup, often contaminating groundwater.[6] In 2014, operators reported almost two spills per day in Colorado, with over 10 percent of those spills contaminating groundwater.[7] And, even after the devastating floods of 2013 inundated fracking operations and released over 90,000 gallons of oil and produced water into Colorado’s rivers and waterways,[8] our state government still allows operators to drill new wells in Colorado’s flood plains,[9] risking more contamination when the wells and tanks are flooded again. The University of Missouri found contamination of the Colorado River with endocrine-disrupting chemicals near sites where fracking spills had been reported and supposedly remediated.[10] Toxic oil and gas industry spills like the one at Parachute Creek require massive cleanup operations that can take months or even years.[11]

Protecting Colorado’s Air Quality—F
Recent studies by the University of Colorado, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and others have found that oil and gas fracking operations contribute to grossly elevated levels of carcinogenic benzene in the air over the Front Range.[12] Researchers recently measured benzene levels almost 8 times higher than government agencies had estimated.[13]

The American Lung Association has recently rated the air quality for Front Range counties with D’s and F’s, due to ozone pollution.[14] Over half of ozone-precursor emissions in northeastern Colorado can be traced to oil and gas production.[15] As a result of increased pollution from fracking operations, air quality in our nine-country Front Range region is out of compliance with federal standards, placing Colorado at risk for penalties and sanctions, as well as health-care burdens.[16]

Protecting Colorado’s Public Health—F
Studies have shown that toxins released into the air and water by fracking operations are linked to harmful short- and long-term health effects including neurological problems, cancer, and birth defects.[17]

Ozone-precursor pollution from fracking operations aggravates asthma and other serious health problems, and diminishes the length and quality of human life—especially for children and the elderly. Victims are forced to miss school and work, while additional burdens are placed on healthcare service providers and public health programs.[18]

Protecting Colorado’s Public Safety—F
Fires, explosions, and spills occur frequently at fracking sites in Colorado. At least seven fracking-related fires occurred on the Front Range in 2014,[19] including one that killed a Halliburton employee.[20] A recent fire and explosion at a fracking waste disposal facility near Greeley caused oil tanks to fly into the air. The resulting fire took hours to put out and caused four nearby homes to be evacuated.[21] That same waste-disposal facility was linked to earthquakes in the Greeley area last year.[22] The US Geological Survey has associated the increasing number of earthquakes in fracking regions with the disposal of billions of gallons of toxic waste into injection wells.[23] Earthquakes threaten public safety, destroy property, and can damage infrastructure, including roads and dams.

Protecting Colorado’s Natural Environment—F
Oil and gas production is reducing the viability of rare species like the sage grouse.[24] Habitats for deer are being fragmented and compromised by access roads and drilling pads.[25] Our scenic values are increasingly marred by rigs and tanks, and our streams and rivers are contaminated by spills. The impacts of fracking operations on water quality, air quality, soil, and scenic values threaten Colorado’s tourism, fishing, hunting, ranching, farming, and brewing industries.

Protecting Coloradan’s Property Rights—F
The oil and gas industry is permitted to drill and frack for oil and gas against the will of surface owners and neighbors. Home values can plummet as a result of fracking taking place on or near a property[26], and access to loans and property insurance is sometimes denied to surface owners.[27] Operators may also demand that mineral-rights owners lease now, against their will, or face the threat of state-mandated “forced-pooling” of their property.[28]

Protecting Colorado Voters—F
In 2012 and 2013, voters in the cities of Longmont, Fort Collins, Broomfield, Lafayette, and Boulder passed ballot measures placing moratoria or bans on hydraulic fracturing out of concern for their health, environment, well-being, and economy. Since that time, most of these communities have been sued by the industry, based on the premise that state law allows only the state to regulate oil and gas production.

The Colorado Legislature and Governor Hickenlooper have taken no action to protect these communities and others from lawsuits invalidating the will of voters or local governments.[29] While the 2015 legislature was in session, the state of Colorado issued permits for almost 1000 new wells, in addition over 4000 permits awarded to the industry last year.[30] Our legislators and our governor have failed to act on citizens’ pleas to stop the threat of preemption-based lawsuits when local voters and governments adopt measures to protect their residents from the harmful impacts of fracking. Local governments are still forced to spend taxpayer money to defend their voters’ rights, or surrender their rights to the oil and gas industry.

Written and compiled by Lauren Swain, 350 Colorado Fracking Specialist

CAF Report Card Sources:
[1] Concerned Health Professionals of New York, Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking, 2nd Ed., Dec. 11, 2014. http://concernedhealthny.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CHPNY-Fracking-Compendium.pdf
[2] see 2
[3] US Environmental Protection Agency, Overview of Greenhouse Gases-Carbon Dioxide Emissions, updated May 7, 2015. http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.htmlhttp://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/co2.html
[4] Howard, Brian Clark, “Amid Drought, Explaining Colorado’s Extreme Floods” National Geographic, September 13, 2013. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/09/130913-colorado-flood-boulder-climate-change-drought-fires/
[5] Finley, Bruce. “Colorado faces oil boom “death sentence” for soil, eyes microbe fix.” The Denver Post. May 4, 2014.
http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_25692049/colorado-faces-oil-boom-death-sentence-soil-eyes
[6] see 6
[7] Finley, Bruce. “Oil and gas spills surge, two a day, residents often not notified.” The Denver Post. July 14, 2014. http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_26233762/oil-and-gas-spills-surge-two-day-residents
[8] Rueschhoff, Austin. “Oil and Gas Operations and Colorado’s Floods: The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commssion Tackles the Issues.” University of Denver Water Law Review. November 14, 2013. http://duwaterlawreview.com/tag/colorado-flood/
[9] Finley, Bruce. “Colorado adopts rules for oil and gas operations in flood zones.” The Denver Post. March 2, 2015. http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_27625238/colorado-active-oil-and-gas-rigs-down-start
[10] University of Missouri Health System, “MU Researchers Find Fracking Chemicals Disrupt Hormone Function.” January 3, 2014 http://medicine.missouri.edu/news/0214.php
[11] Webb, Dennis. “ ‘Gift from nature’ eases threat of contaminants in creek.” Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. February 9, 2015. http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/articles/gift-from-nature-eases-threat-of-contaminants-in-c/
[12] Jaffe, Mark. “Researchers assess emissions from Colorado oil and gas fields.” The Denver Post. November 16, 2014. http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_26942340/researchers-assess-emissions-from-colorado-oil-and-gas
[13] Finley, Bruce. “Scientists flying over Colorado oil and gas boom find worse air pollution.” The Denver Post. May 6, 2014. http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_25719742/scientists-flying-over-colorado-oil-boom-find-worse
[14] American Lung Association. “State of the Air: 2015—Report Card Colorado” http://www.stateoftheair.org/2015/states/colorado/
[15] Aguilar, John. “Cu-Boulder, NOAA study uncovers oil and gas emission’s ‘chemical signature’.” The Daily Camera. January 16, 2013 http://www.dailycamera.com/ci_22390113/cu-boulder-noaa-study-uncovers-oil-and-gas
[16] Finley, Bruce. “Bad air: Denver, western cities rise up list of nation’s most-polluted.” The Denver Post. April 29, 2014. http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_28013352/bad-air-denver-western-cities-rise-up-list
[17] Rice, Doyle. “Is fracking polluting the air?” USA Today. December 17, 2014. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/16/fracking-air-pollution-health-nrdc/20451639/
[18] US Environmental Protection Agency. “Ground Level Ozone: Health Effects.” November 26, 2014. http://www.epa.gov/groundlevelozone/health.html
[19] Finley, Bruce. “Front Range firefighters gird after oil fires as wells encroach.” The Denver Post. May 1, 2014. http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_25671583/front-range-firefighters-gird-after-oil-fires-wells
[1] Wallis, Daniel. “Halliburton worker killed in Colorado fracking accident.” Reuters. November 13, 2014. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/13/us-usa-colorado-fracking-idUSKCN0IX2MH20141113
[1] Redmond, James. “Greeley firefighters extinguish blaze near Greeley-Weld County Airport.” Greeley Tribune. April 17, 2015. http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/15948232-113/greeley-firefighters-extinguish-blaze-near-greeley-weld-county-airport
[22] see 22
[23] US Geological Survey. “Induced Earthquakes: Featured Research Projects” May 1, 2015. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/induced/
[24] McKinnon, Taylor. “1.7 Million Acre Fracking Plan Draws Protest in Colorado.” Center for Biological Diversity. April 28, 2015. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2015/fracking-04-28-2015.html
[25] Taylor, Phil. “Sportsmen seek room for wildlife amid drilling push.” Energy and Environment News. October 21, 2014. http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060007647
[26] McMahon, Jeff. “Pollution fears crush home prices near fracking wells.” Forbes. Apri 10, 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2014/04/10/pollution-fears-crush-home-prices-near-fracking-wells/
[27] Conlin, Michelle and Grow, Brian. “Special Report: US builders hoard mineral rights under new homes.” Reuters. October 9, 2013. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/09/us-usa-fracking-rights-specialreport-idUSBRE9980AZ20131009
[28] Harder, Abby. “Compulsory pooling laws protecting the conflicting rights of neighboring landowners.” National Conference of State Legislatures. October 24, 2014. http://www.ncsl.org/research/energy/compulsory-pooling-laws-protecting-the-conflicting-rights-of-neighboring-landowners.aspx
[29] Marcus, Peter. “Fracking battle rages on in Colorado.” Durango Herald. May 12, 2015. http://durangoherald.com/article/20150512/NEWS01/150519904/Fracking-battle-wages-on–
[30] Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. “Colorado Weekly and Monthly Oil & Gas Statistics.” June 1, 2015. http://cogcc.state.co.us/documents/data/downloads/statistics/CoWklyMnthlyOGStats.pdf

23Feb/15
KarenBlog

Unconscionable

Below is blog I wrote about a year ago and never published.  The facts aren’t from the latest data, but they remain true over time.  That is the good thing about facts: they don’t change.

Unconscionable

I have a friend who says,” That is unconscionable” when someone is making bad decisions that are of questionable ethics.  Recently I decided what we are seeing with the pollution from Oil and Gas Drilling/ Fracking raises to the level of being unconscionable. Continue reading

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It Is Time

I am going to post a speech I gave at a rally. Because IT IS TIME!

IT IS TIME
Time to stop saying natural gas is a bridge to the future; it is a bridge to nowhere
A new study shows that fracking for natural gas releases enough methane into the atmosphere to be 86 times worse than for the climate over a 20 year period than burning coal.
Time to end the Halliburton loophole that gives the oil and gas companies’ exemption from 7 federal acts including the clean air and water acts. If they weren’t polluting they wouldn’t need these exemptions. Continue reading