Are you going to a candidate event or forum soon? Here are some great questions for candidates with regards to fracking and transitioning off fossil fuels that was prepared by individuals we know who are concerned about the impact fracking is having on our communities (credit and thanks to them):
Fracking Questions for 2018 Colorado Candidates and Elected Officials:
The following questions have been designed for citizens to use when engaging with Colorado Candidates and Elected Officials. Please spend some time reviewing the health impact studies. The Colorado Act’s legislative evolution and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commissions (COGCC) own enforcement criteria —
mandates that the development of oil and gas in Colorado be regulated subject to the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources.
In 2017, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act was interpreted by the Colorado court of Appeals to require that oil and gas production be regulated subject to the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources.
Here are three important studies published recently, which have identified human health, and safety impacts related to oil and gas production:
Hydraulic fracturing and infant health: New evidence from Pennsylvania Currie, J., Greenstone, M., & Meckel, K. (2017). Hydraulic fracturing and infant health:
New evidence from Pennsylvania. Science Advances, 3(12). doi:10.1126/sciadv.1603021
– This study found a significantly higher risk of negative birth outcomes for babies born to mothers living within a kilometer (3280 feet) of oil and gas operations, compared to those whose mothers lived over a kilometer from
such operations. “Figure 4 suggests that the infant health index is worse at 0 to 1 km from a fracking site than at higher distances.”
– This is the largest study of its kind, including data from 1.1 million births.
– This data applies to Colorado. Not only did the area studied in Pennsylvania have a lower well density, than often seen in Colorado, but it arguably had better air circulation than Colorado’s front range, another risk factor for air
borne contaminants from fracking sites.
Association Between Unconventional Natural Gas Development in the Marcellus Shale and Asthma Exacerbations Sara G. Rasmussen, MHS1; Elizabeth L. Ogburn, PhD2; Meredith McCormack, MD3; et al JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(9):1334-1343.doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2436
– Conducted by researchers at John’s Hopkins University, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
– Included 400,000 patients.
– This study shows a clear associated, up to 4.7x, risk of exacerbation of all forms of asthma within the period of drilling – highest in <3km within drilling operations.
– The results are VERY consistent with the neonatal data shown above. Childhood hematologic cancer and residential proximity to oil and gas development Lisa M. McKenzie, William B. Allshouse, Tim E. Byers, Edward J. Bedrick, Berrin Serdar, John L. Adgate Published: February 15, 2017
Questions for 2018 Colorado Candidates and Elected Officials
– University of Colorado study conducted over a 12-year time span (based on registry data).
– Included a 10-year latency period.
– Included patients within a .9-mile span of wells and drilling.
– Demonstrates a 4.3-fold increased risk for patients living within these higher risk zones.
1) Given the findings from the above studies, what are your thoughts regarding the health impacts of oil and gas production?
The precautionary principle recognizes that “…an action should not be taken if the consequences are uncertain and potentially dangerous.” (See Denver Post article, dated April 12, 2017).
2) Please explain your reasons for supporting or not supporting the application of the precautionary principle to oil and gas activity in your jurisdiction and/or in the State of Colorado?
3) As an Elected Official how will you support, encourage, and legislate funding the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) programs to inform and engage the medical community on health impacts and the Oil and Gas Health Information and Response Program, so that patients whose health is affected by
pollution or accidents related to oil and gas production can receive the best possible medical treatment?
A citizen’s organization Colorado Rising, has submitted a statutory initiative to be placed on the November 2018 ballot to establish a 2500 ft. safety buffer zone that would keep new oil and gas production facilities farther away from homes, schools, playgrounds, parks, and water sources than current setback requirements.
4) Please explain your reasons you support or do not support this measure?
In 2017, the Colorado Oil & Gas Commission (COGCC), appointed by Governor Hickenlooper requested that the Colorado Attorney General (AG), Cynthia Coffman appeal the Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in Martinez v. COGCC. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman filed a Notice of Appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. The Colorado
Supreme Court will hear the appeal, which is pending. In the Martinez case, petitioners requested that the COGCC promulgate the following rule: “…not issue any permits for the drilling of a well for oil and gas unless the best
available science demonstrates, and an independent, third party organization confirms, that drilling can occur in a manner that does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health and does not contribute to climate change.” (See Martinez v. COGCC, pg.
3).Questions for 2018 Colorado Candidates and Elected Officials
The Colorado Court of Appeals held that the COGCC has the authority to enact such a rule because the Oil and Gas Conservation Act “mandates that the development of oil and gas in Colorado be regulated subject to the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources” (See Martinez v.
5) Please explain your reasons for supporting or not supporting the AG and COGCC’s decision to appeal the case?
6) As an elected official, what will you do to address aging and decaying oil and gas infrastructure, in order to protect Colorado’s residents, environment, and wildlife from impacts that can result, such as leaks and spills?
7) There has been a significant shift of the Oil & Gas Industry’s Cost of Doing Business to the taxpayers of Colorado. Please explain specifically what changes you will or will not work to implement in order to address this issue including at least the following items:
• Colorado’s effective Severance Tax is the lowest in the country. This will likely result in a funding shortfall of between $5 and $15 Million for the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). This shortfall will probably have to be covered from the General Fund resulting in less funding for other Colorado programs.
• Former COGCC Director Matt Lepore has stated that there are up to 400 Orphan Wells that need to be plugged and capped at state expense. At an average cost of over $80,000 that is a potential $32 Million cost to taxpayers. Lepore also estimated that an additional 4,000 wells currently operated by “distressed operators” who “make us nervous” may become the state’s problem in the future.
a) If an oil and gas operator cannot afford to properly plug and abandon a well(s), what reasons do you believe that operator should or should not be able to continue to do business in the State of Colorado?
• Local communities have little control over O&G development and yet are required to cover O&G related costs including roads and other infrastructure, air monitoring, site inspections, emergency response equipment and personnel, added staff, etc. Although some of this is paid for by the operators, compensation is rarely adequate to cover actual costs to the community.
b) Should the Operators’ Financial Viability be considered in the permitting process?
8) As an elected official, how will you protect those jurisdictions with taxpayer-funded open space land for which oil and gas is not a designated activity?
Questions for 2018 Colorado Candidates and Elected Officials:
9) In your elected position, what policies will you support to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, from the production of fossil fuels, including existing and potential new oil, gas, and coal development, production, and storage?
10) Please explain your reasons for supporting or not supporting new fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines and natural gas plants, in your jurisdiction and/or the State of Colorado?
11) As an elected official, what will you do to promote and invest in renewable energy infrastructure in your jurisdiction and throughout the State of Colorado?
12) Please explain your reasons for supporting or not supporting a dated 100% renewable energy goal for electricity, transportation, and heat for governmental uses, private businesses, and individual residents?
a) If you support such a goal or related goal, what are the dated goals and intermediate dated goals to help ensure the goal is achieved
b) Would you associate greenhouse gas emission reduction targets with any proposed goal and intermediate dated goals?
c) If you support such a goal or related goal will you seek to have it enacted into law and thereby required?