Rep. Foote to COGCC: “Industry is out of control”

November 7, 2017

COGCC, Colorado, oil and gas drilling

[Source: CBS Denver]

Angry residents packed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) meeting last week (October 30). Some wore face masks with messages written on them like “Stop Fracking Us” to protest toxic air from drilling and fracking operations they are forced to breathe daily.

More than 60 residents from communities along the Front Range testified that fracking has exposed them to hazardous toxins. Residents protested the proposed construction of dozens of drilling sites near homes and schools in Broomfield, Boulder, Erie, Greeley, Longmont and Thornton.

As commissioners listened to a litany of chastisement and complaints one woman quietly held a photo of homes next to a drilling rig.

[Source: CBS Denver]

A commissioner asked the woman to put away the photo

She refused and told him, “We have to look at this every day. Why can’t you?”

This year, the American Lung Association gave 10 counties on the Front Range a failing grade on their clean air report. Weld County, which already has more than 23,000 wells, received an ‘F.’

Weld County resident Megan Meyer said, “Fracking is in my neighborhood. It’s near my backyard, it’s near my children’s favorite playground which I don’t take them to much anymore because their asthma has gotten worse in the last few years.”

The most powerful testimony came from Rep. Mike Foote (Louisville). Here is the video of his speech followed by the complete text.

Statement by Rep. Mike Foote

Commissioners, thank you for your attention this morning.

It may be an understatement to say you have a lot of decisions in front of you over the next several months. Your actual decisions are, of course, very important. But how you make those decisions is just as important.

As you well know, under the Oil and Gas Act you have a charter, and the current state of the law after the Martinez case is that protecting public health, safety, and welfare is a condition precedent to allowing oil and gas operations to occur.

This commission voted to appeal that case, but that doesn’t mean the decision has gone away. It still stands, and it is currently the law of the land in this state.

And, I believe, if you do decide to grant a permit, you need to make public findings of how exactly that permit to drill is consistent with public safety.

I would suggest you won’t be able to make those findings. Many of the current or upcoming permit applications to drill are simply not consistent with public safety. Putting dangerous industrial operations in the middle of neighborhoods never will be.

Members of the commission, so many people are speaking up against the absolute abuse of power we’ve seen from the oil and gas industry.

They want someone to say “enough is enough.” They are desperate for someone to tell these oil and gas operators “no.”

When you have operators that drill a football field away from homes, or just two hundred feet away from an actual high school football field;

When you have an industry that exercises corporate eminent domain on mineral rights owners, unchecked, and forces them to sell;

An industry that doesn’t want anyone to know how many mineral rights owners it has forced to sell, nor the actual number of fires and explosions at its facilities, nor any kind of publicly available mapping of its pipelines,

An industry that flaunts taxpayer funded open space, against the will of those very taxpayers who paid for it, by wanting to put a large industrial operation right in the middle of it;

When you see an operator thumbing its nose at you, the Commission, regarding public processes and public meetings you’ve required them to do;

When you have an operator that ignores the rules and then just flees the state, leaving the taxpayer on the hook to clean up its mess to the tune of millions of dollars;

And all of those same operators taking advantage of massive tax loopholes so they can pay the second lowest effective severance tax rate in the entire country;

While at the same time claim additional water or air quality monitoring would cost them way too much.

When you see just one of those things, not to mention all of them, you have an industry that is out of control. For once, someone needs to say no to this industry. This commission would be a good place to start.

********************

For more information:

Angry Front Range residents pack hearing, berate state regulators for allowing drilling near homes

Controversial Colorado oil and gas drilling plans draw dozens of speakers to regulators’ meeting

Broomfield residents pack Denver hearing room for Extraction spacing applications

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