March 18, 2018 – 350 Colorado Testimony to the COGCC

 

My name is Micah Parkin. I’m speaking today as a mother and as Executive Director of 350 Colorado. We represent 14,000 members in Colorado who are calling for a safe, just and healthy future for our children and future generations. We welcome the COGCC’s new director Julie Murphy and hope that you will provide caring, responsible leadership and correct the direction of this organization which to date has failed to uphold the most critical part of its mission, which is to consider public health and safety as a precondition to permitting oil and gas development near communities.

 

We call you on to drop the appeal of the Martinez court decision that directed the COGCC to prioritize public health and safety as a precondition to permitting oil and gas development. As the standing rule of law, it should be respected and the COGCC should put in place a moratorium on further permitting until independent studies can prove that the COGCC is using best available science to regulate the industry in a manner truly protective of public health and safety and until it is properly funded to do so.

 

It is clear that the COGCC has not been prioritizing public health, safety and welfare, in light of over 1100+ complaints the agency has received over the past year alone from Coloradans who are basically being tormented, complaining of lack of sleep due to noise and vibrations, fouled toxic air, poisoned and flammable water, depressed house values, sick children and massive quality of life declines. Public health studies show increased cancer and other serious health effects to those living within a ½ mile from oil and gas development, and yet the COGCC has continued to approve wells only 500’ from homes, 1000’ from schools and right by school playgrounds and sports fields.

 

A report released last week by Concerned Health Professionals of New York and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group, Physicians for Social Responsibility, which is considered the most authoritative study of its kind, warns that fracking is poisoning the air, contaminating the water and imperiling the health of Americans across the country. Dr. Sandra Steingraber, one of the report’s 8 co-authors, says: “Those of us in the public health sector started to realize years ago that there were potential risks, then the industry rolled out faster than we could do our science.” In recent years, the practice has expanded from rural lands to backyards, farms, and within sight of schools and drinking water sources. “Now we see those risks have turned into human harms and people are getting sick,” says Steingraber. “And we in this field have a moral imperative to raise the alarm.”

 

No one should have to lose a daughter to an environmentally-caused blood cancer, as the Larson and Gonzalez Family in Frederick did following a fracking-related chemical fire across the street from their home. And their granddaughter had sores all over her face and had to be on breathing treatments every 4 hours until they abandoned their home, their good consciences didn’t allow them to sell it and subject anyone else to what they’d been through. Their granddaughter’s symptoms immediately cleared up after the move, but their daughter was gone.

 

Also, I must remind you that 97% of the world’s climate scientists agree that our planet is dangerously overheating due to emissions from burning fossil fuels and methane leaks, such as those pouring out of the Denver Julesburg basin at a rate that makes it worse for our climate than burning coal. With devastating climate impacts already being felt in CO and worldwide, it is frankly ludicrous to have a state commission tasked with fostering oil and gas development at all in the year 2018. The mission to promote fossil fuels may have made sense in 1950, but certainly not in 2018. The only energy we should be fostering at this point in history is clean renewable energy.

 

The COGCC is clearly not operating in line with our state’s July 2017 commitment to the US Climate Alliance, which commits CO to do our part to keep global temperatures from increasing above 2 degrees C. The Sky’s Limit report, which analyzed the amount of fossil fuels that can be burned and stay under a 2 degree C rise, states that we can only burn 80% of fossil fuels currently under production and development and that NO NEW fossil fuels can be brought online – that means no new fracking – no new permits.

 

You have an ethical responsibility to protect the health and safety of your fellow Coloradans above promotion of 1 irresponsible fossil industry. Drop the appeal of the Martinez decision. Put health and safety 1st. Be on the right side of history.

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