8-20-2019 LA Letter

August 20, 2019

Dear Commissioners Johnson, Kefalas, and Donnelly,

We are writing to you on behalf of the citizens of Larimer County with a sincere request that you act to protect the health and safety of the people you represent, as well as the environment we all share. Senate Bill 19-181 profoundly changed the ability of locally elected governments to act on behalf of the people, and redirected the mission of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize “Health, Safety and the Environment” over the continued fostering of O&G development in our state. One result of SB-181 is that the COGCC is engaged in an extensive rewriting of its rules regarding wellhead setbacks, air and water contamination and well reclamation among others. Another result is that you, our County Commission, have selected and engaged an Oil & Gas Task Force to make recommendations for the future regulation of the industry in our county. While we have serious concerns about the makeup of the Task Force and the conditions under which it was selected, we believe that these are issues for another time. We are more concerned that the County is rushing in six months to implement regulations that will be written into a 20 Year land use plan. It is doing so without vital knowledge and resources and before the COGCC completes its work.

We are writing today to ask you to suspend all existing and future O&G permitting until the COGCC Yinishes revising its rulemaking process next year. We are asking this on behalf of the citizens whom you represent – many of whom live in the eastern part of the county, and who do not own the mineral rights of the land on which they live. They are families who are increasingly and rightly concerned about the effects of an industry that is extracting resources from beneath their homes while putting them at risk from the toxic effects of benzene and other volatile organic compounds in the air they breathe and the water they drink. We are attaching to this letter a listing of peer-reviewed scientiYic articles that speciYically reference the risks and hazards of these chemicals to the people of Colorado and the Front Range. We urge you to review the entire compendium produced by Physicians for Social Responsibility, which you can find at: www.psr.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/compendium-6.pdf

You were elected to represent the people of Larimer County. We are the people who live here, although the oil and gas rights that lie beneath our homes increasingly belongs to foreign companies with executives who live in other parts of the country – or the world. While we recognize that the Oil and Gas industry contributes to our local and state economy, we are deeply concerned to find that O&G Field workers themselves, those who live and raise their families here, work in jobs that are exempt from the most basic OSHA requirements. In 2016, Oil & Gas Field workers were victims of 71% of all mining industry fatalities (and mining is second only to construction in casualty rates). When the Larimer Oil & Gas Task Force makes its recommendations, we fully expect that increased protections for Field workers in this volatile industry will be included.

Finally, it has come to our attention that a position on the Task Force may have recently come open, as Arsineh Hecobian is tentatively moving out of state. We are aware that although four physicians with impeccable credentials (Cory Carroll, James C. Danforth, Adrian Krause, and Mike Tobin) had applied to serve on the Oil & Gas Task Force, not one had been selected. We urge you to appoint one of these physicians with MD's to Yill Dr. Hecobian's vacancy. At least one of the four, we believe, has been attending past Task Force meetings in the audience. We stand ready to assist both the County Commission and the Larimer O&G Task Force in promulgating regulations in accordance with the spirit and the letter of Senate Bill 19-181. Until such time as the COGCC Yinalizes it own statewide rules, we ask you to suspend all pending and future oil and gas permits in Larimer county. We ask that you appoint one of the medical physicians who had previously applied to the Larimer O&G Task Force, and we ask that you give priority of the Health, Safety, and Environment of Larimer County and your constituents over outside Oil and Gas interests.


The Larimer Alliance