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