July 29, 2019
Governor of Colorado
State Capitol Building
200 E. Colfax, Rm. 136
Denver, CO 80203
Re: For Colorado’s Health and Communities, We Need a Timeout on Fracking
Dear Governor Polis:
We are writing to urge you to support a timeout on new fracking in Colorado while state rules and policies are revised to respond to and effectively implement Senate Bill 19-181 and House Bill 19-1261.
SB 181 directed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to promulgate regulations to assure protection of public health and welfare from the impacts of oil and gas development. Among other things, the law requires the cumulative health and environmental impacts of oil and gas development be evaluated and addressed to ensure comprehensive protection of Coloradans and Colorado communities.
HB 1261 directed the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Quality Control Commission to adopt rules to achieve Colorado’s goals of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050.
While the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Department of Public Health and Environment are moving forward with their respective rulemaking processes, the agencies are both permitting and approving new oil and gas development that is not consistent with the intent and plain language of SB 181 and with meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals under HB 1261. New drilling permits have been approved with no consideration of public health or climate consequences. What’s more, new air pollution permits have been proposed that actually allow oil and gas well facilities to use a 90-day loophole to avoid compliance with stringent clean air and climate safeguards.
In many cases, these oil and gas operations pose serious threats to public health, safety, and the environment. For example, the Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Pollution Control Division has proposed to allow Extraction Oil and Gas to obtain a minor source permit for the company’s Trott production facility near the town of Berthoud. In a recent Denver Post article, this oil and gas facility was highlighted as one of dozens currently operating without legally required major source permits under Colorado clean air laws. This article highlights how the Trott facility and Extraction Oil and Gas’s failure to meet major source permitting requirements are negatively impacting neighboring residents.
We need interim relief. SB 181 and HB 1261 promise dramatic improvements in public health, air quality, community safety, and climate. However, new rules to implement SB 181 SB 1261 are months, if not years, away, leaving Coloradans vulnerable to unchecked oil and gas development. Public health, safety, and the environment must come first in Colorado today.
In the interest of fairness and community, we urge you and your Administration to immediately:
- Direct that approval of new drilling and facility permits be placed on hold statewide pending the completion of Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rulemaking to fully implement the provisions of SB 181;
- Direct that the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Department of Public Health and Environment prioritize the promulgation of rules for evaluating and addressing the potential cumulative impacts of oil and gas development;
- Direct that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment pause the review and approval of new air quality construction permits for new oil and gas production facilities pending the completion of rulemaking by the Air Quality Control Commission to fully implement the provisions of SB 181 and to begin implementing the provisions of HB 1261; and
- Direct that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issue clarifying guidance that new oil and gas production facilities cannot begin construction without first obtaining legally required air pollution permits.
These precautionary actions will simultaneously allow existing oil and gas facilities to operate and produce while SB 181 and HB 1261 rulemakings move forward as expeditiously and effectively as possible. We believe this strikes a reasonable balance in accommodating industry’s desire to profit from the production of oil and gas and the need to ensure that Colorado’s health, welfare, and environment is not irreversibly degraded.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Climate and Energy Program Director
Mothers Out Front—Colorado
Physicians for Social Responsibility—Colorado
Citizens for a Healthy Community
Wall of Women
Weld Air and Water
Be The Change
Our Children’s Trust—Colorado
Call to Action
Northern Colorado Community Rights