On Monday December 11th, about 60 people testified in front of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission against fracking.
Residents filled the room holding graphic photos of children with nosebleeds, severe burns, explosions and well pads in backyards, trying to convey to the commissioners their concerns about fracking.
One protester gave the commissioners a stocking of coal, shaming them for their appeal of the Martinez court decision that states public health and safety must be treated as a precondition to permitting oil and gas development.
One of the people who testified yesterday in front of the COGCC was state senator Matt Jones, a Democrat from Boulder County.
“One of the things I said is that Crestone’s incompetence…they should not get any permits. And I say that for a couple of reasons. They were supposed to have public meetings, and they hired retired cops and FBI agents to screen people so that they couldn’t speak and use their first amendment rights. And secondly, they didn’t allow many or some of the land owners in which they’re required (to do) by a Colorado Oil and Gas Commission rule. And I was asking where’s the fine for them violating that rule, willfully violating the rule? But what’s worse yet, they were trying to cap a well 50 feet from a playground at Aspen Ridge Middle School, and the COGCC responded to an odor complaint and came out and saw VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), toxic gases, going toward the school. And they asked them shut down, interestingly I don’t think they told them to. And Crestone is now fighting that Notice of Alleged Violation (it’s called), saying they did standard business practice and followed the law. I think that saying that and putting toxic gases that can cause leukemia for instance, in a school, shows that they are incompetent to operate. That they couldn’t foresee that problem and manage it. And if you talk to Erie, they would tell you the same thing on the Erie, Weld County side.”
During the meeting, Matt Lepore, the chair of the COGCC, announced that Crestone has released a new draft plan for their proposed site in East Boulder County, that moves many of the wells towards Highway 52, away from a more densely populated area.
“The people who have been advocating for that move are probably surprised, pleasantly surprised. I think a lot of other people think it’s not ok moving it from one area with a number of neighbors to an area that has a smaller number of neighbors and it’s sad that neighbors are being pitted against neighbors, and up in Broomfield and Adams Counties, counties are being pitted against counties and it’s all because of the rules the state has.”
Jones is planning on introducing legislation in the 2018 session that would give communities more local control when it comes to regulating fracking. In the past, communities like Longmont that have banned fracking, have been sued by the state.
The PROTECT act would:
- Preserve the right of municipal and county governments to choose oil & gas regulations according to the needs of local residents
- Allow cities and counties to plan, zone, and refuse to allow oil and gas operations as they see fit
- Treat oil & gas drilling and fracking like any other industrial activity subject to local zoning laws and possible denial
- Prioritize public safety by allowing local governments to protect Coloradans from hazardous chemicals and dangerous, poorly maintained drilling and fracking operations