Colorado Governor Jared Polis and his administration yesterday missed a legally required deadline to propose new climate regulations, further setting back progress toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the state.
By law, the Polis administration was required to propose new regulations to meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets by July 1, 2020. That day has now passed with no new regulations.
With reports confirming the state was already not on track to meet its climate goals, WildEarth Guardians is stepping up to soon file suit to enforce the July 1, 2020 deadline and upping calls for Governor Polis to fulfill his commitment to climate progress in Colorado.
The Polis administration’s lack of effective climate action isn’t just jeopardizing the state’s ability to curb greenhouse gas emissions, it’s a major environmental justice concern. Landmark climate legislation passed in 2019 required the state to prioritize reducing greenhouse gases where emissions disproportionately impact Black and Latino communities, low income neighborhoods, and Indigenous peoples.
Calls for Governor Polis to confront environmental racism and advance environmental and climate justice have mounted in the wake of the George Floyd protests, emphasizing that social inequities are directly related to environmental inequities.
In spite of some positive steps to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, the Polis administration has fallen behind in achieving meaningful reductions. A recent letter from Polis’ Air Pollution Control Division confirms that current progress is “not sufficient” to meet the state’s legally required climate milestones.
In response to Colorado’s missed climate deadline, WildEarth Guardians is doubling down on calls for Governor Polis to:
- Immediately suspend approving air pollution permits for new sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Help retire the state’s largest industrial sources of climate pollution, including the Suncor oil refinery in north Denver, as quickly as possible.
- Commit Colorado to achieving 100% renewable electricity generation by 2030.
- Phase out fracking in the state by 2025.
Under House Bill 1261, which passed and was signed into the law by Governor Polis in 2019, Colorado must reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050.
Fifty years ago, a group of visionaries created an event to honor, celebrate and protect the earth. The original founders of Earth Day were inspired by an understanding that Earth and its life support systems were increasingly vulnerable. They also understood a profound and simple truth—if the Earth suffers, then humanity suffers too.
If Earth and its natural systems are to thrive in the next 50 years, we need a deep recommitment to the bold vision that inspired the first Earth Day. Simply put, it’s time for action and we need Guardians like you to step up and help be a catalyst for the type of bold changes needed to address systemic problems, like the nature crisis and climate crises.
First, if you haven’t already, sign our Earth Day Pledge and make sure to share it with your friends and family.
Next, help us take over social media for Earth Week! To do that, we’ve assembled ready-to-go images for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you’re short on time, we’ve even put together some sample Facebook posts and Instagram hashtags for you. We’ve created something extra special for people on Twitter: A compelling series of 15 tweets. We’d be especially grateful if you could send them all out!
Finally, you can find WildEarth Guardians on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @WildEarthGuardians, so make sure to tag us!
All Earth Day images can be downloaded from this folder. They’re already sized for Facebook/Instagram or Twitter. You can also click on each image below and get a full-size image for use on social media.
Start your very own Twitter Storm by sending out the following 15 tweets. We’ve made it simple: Just grab and post! Please note: If an image isn’t associated with the suggested tweet (Example: Suggested Tweet #1) an image will automatically propagate when you post the entire tweet.
Suggested Tweet #1
The original founders of #EarthDay were inspired by an understanding that Earth and its life support systems were increasingly vulnerable. They also understood a profound and simple truth—if the Earth suffers, then humanity suffers too. https://wildearthguardians.org/brave-new-wild/news/earth-day-2020-a-vision-for-the-next-50-years/
Suggested Tweet #2
Sign the Earth Day Pledge: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge @wildearthguard
Suggested Tweet #3
Thanks to the catalyzing effect of the original #EarthDay vision—as well as a deep and wide progressive social and political movement—a whole suite of environmental safety nets now exist to protect nature, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. https://wildearthguardians.org/brave-new-wild/news/americas-bedrock-environmental-laws-a-conversation-with-john-horning/
Suggested Tweet #4
This #EarthDay is a time to reject dualities that seek to deny our interdependence and embrace our shared destiny—planet and people have one health. From this stems our belief that the rights of nature and the rights of people are inextricably intertwined. https://wildearthguardians.org/brave-new-wild/news/earth-day-2020-a-vision-for-the-next-50-years/
Suggested Tweet #5
Help spread the word about #EarthDay2020! Check out our Earth Day social media tool kit for a series of ready-to-go tweets, posts, and images. Let’s be loud and be proud this #EarthDay! @wildearthguard https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayToolkit
Suggested Tweet #6
There has never been a better time to chart a new course towards a restorative and regenerative future. Take the #EarthDay Pledge: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge @wildearthguard
Suggested Tweet #7
Extractive industries that mine, drill, log, and graze on #publiclands are fueling the climate crisis and the nature crisis. We must equitably retire extractive industries on public lands. Take action: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge #EarthDay
Suggested Tweet #8
Living rivers are vital to the diversity of life on earth. To ensure the future health of rivers and the species that depend on them, we must revive the pulse of great waterways and expose the historic injustice to rivers. Take the pledge: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge #EarthDay
Suggested Tweet #9
Native #wildlife, especially carnivores, are suffering under the multiple and intensifying threats of habitat destruction, climate disruption and questionable hunting and trapping practices. We must nurture an ethic of compassionate co-existence: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge #EarthDay
Suggested Tweet #10
Public lands in the American West are home to some of the last remnants of wild, yet still unprotected, landscapes in our nation. There are potentially up to 40 million acres of #publiclands that would be eligible for permanent protection. ACT: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge #EarthDay
Suggested Tweet #11
Times like these show the importance of safety nets. We must secure and strengthen environmental safety nets like the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act to meet the challenges ahead. Sign the pledge: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge #EarthDay
Suggested Tweet #12
WildEarth Guardians’ #EarthDay vision calls for leadership at all levels of society. We need leaders from all political spectrums to shoulder the responsibility of creating and embrace the vision of a new, more nurturant social contract with citizens. https://wildearthguardians.org/brave-new-wild/news/earth-day-2020-a-vision-for-the-next-50-years/
Suggested Tweet #13
Living rivers and #cleanwater are vital to all life. Flowing, healthy rivers nourish communities, connect ecosystems, and provide corridors and habitat for fish and wildlife. Sign the pledge to protect and defend #livingrivers: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge #EarthDay
Suggested Tweet #14
We must deepen our commitment to greater equity and inclusion in our human communities to ensure that people are treated with compassion and afforded the dignity that all people deserve. #EarthDay https://wildearthguardians.org/brave-new-wild/news/earth-day-2020-a-vision-for-the-next-50-years/
Suggested Tweet #15
The beauty, resiliency, and dynamism of Earth can still inspire a sense of awe and wonder in each of us. If we re-commit, with a greater sense of urgency, to the founding vision of #EarthDay, we can ensure future generations will experience the beauty too. https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge
Suggested Facebook Posts
Suggested Facebook Post #1
The original founders of Earth Day were inspired by an understanding that Earth and its life support systems were increasingly vulnerable. They also understood a profound and simple truth—if the Earth suffers, then humanity suffers too.
As we commemorate this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we do so with a somber reckoning that we have not heeded planetary health warnings early or well enough. Therefore, these times require ever more bold actions to realign our commitment to Earth and its natural systems and our mutual well-being.
Here’s what guardians like you can do today to help us collectively achieve this vision.
Suggested Facebook Post #2
If Earth and its natural systems are to thrive in the next 50 years, we need a deep recommitment to the bold vision that inspired the first Earth Day. It is a time for action. It is time to reweave the threads of the environmental, public health, and economic safety nets, which ensure that the public welfare and the common good are each protected.
Take the Pledge: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge
Suggested Facebook Post #3
Happy Earth Day…Now get to work for the Earth!
Our Earth Day social media tool kit is a one-stop-shop of ready-to-go tweets, posts, and images.
Instagram Hashtags and Link for Bio
Put this link to the Earth Day Pledge in your bio: https://guardiansaction.org/EarthDayPledge
Hashtags: Use one, or use them all!
#EarthDay #EarthDay2020 #EarthDayEveryDay #ClimateAction #StopExtinction #PublicLands #Wildlife #EndTheWarOnWildlife #LivingRivers #KeepItInTheGround #ProtectWhatYouLove #SaveTheEarth #SaveThePlanet #ProtectOurPlanet #ActOnClimate #EarthWeek #WaterIsLife #CleanWater #CleanAir #Biodiversity #Coexistence #ProtectNature #SaveNature #ProtectWildlife #OneEarth #Together #EndangeredSpecies
WildEarth Guardians joined 23 other Colorado nonprofits and over 1,600 individuals calling on Governor Jared Polis, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and State Land Board to take immediate action to protect those most vulnerable to risks of COVID-19 by halting all fossil fuel activities and the resulting hazardous pollution during the COVID-19 crisis. Across Colorado, poor air quality disproportionately impacts the elderly, low-income communities and people of color; those who are already most impacted by the pandemic and economic downturn.
Experts around the world have warned that air pollution makes people more vulnerable to COVID-19, stating that those at the highest risk include populations with pre-existing health conditions such as respiratory disease. Colorado’s poor air quality is a major driver for respiratory illness across the state, resulting in more than 32,000 child asthma attacks annually.
“For our health and welfare, we’re pleading with Governor Polis to pause fossil fuel production and give people a chance to focus on protecting themselves, their families, and their communities,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “In light of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s more critical than ever to defend our clean air and put people before polluters.”
Read the press release.
In case you missed it, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program is restarting weekly Facebook Live updates, sharing with you the latest insight, news, and perspective on our work to confront the climate crisis here in the American West.
Join us every Wednesday at 1 PM mountain time on WildEarth Guardians’ Facebook page!
Our hope is that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can maintain effective outreach to our members and supporters and continue to keep people engaged, involved, and active. Our push for more virtual engagement is part of WildEarth Guardians’ broader effort to adapt and remain effective in this time of unprecedented crisis.
If you can’t make the live update, don’t worry. All updates are posted on WildEarth Guardians’ Facebook page and you can watch them anytime, check ’em out >>
In the meantime, you can watch our update from earlier this afternoon, we were joined by WildEarth Guardians’ Staff Attorney, Daniel Timmons, and Climate and Energy Program Attorney, Rebecca Fischer. The main topic of discussion was WildEarth Guardians’ latest call for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to put the brakes on selling public lands for fracking in New Mexico.
And stay plugged in to all of WildEarth Guardians’ upcoming virtual events, they’re all listed on our website here >>
This week and part of next, a series of public events are set to unfold that will advance efforts to safeguard clean air and rein in the fracking industry’s toxic air pollution in Colorado. You can show up, speak out, and help make a difference!
Billed as a “Week of Action for Clean Air in Colorado,” WildEarth Guardians will be joining a coalition of allies to show up on the frontlines and ensure strong, new rules are adopted that put Colorado on the path for clean air, a safe climate, and healthy communities.
To really win, we need your help! Everyone in Colorado has a chance to engage. Below is the schedule of events. Scroll down even further for more background info.
Week of Action for Clean Air in Colorado!
- Tuesday, December 10: The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission is holding a public comment hearing from 6-8 PM in Rifle (on the Western Slope) around new rules to rein in the fracking industry’s toxic air pollution and holding a public comment hearing. This is a chance to show up and speak out for stronger clean air rules, click here for more info >>
- Wednesday December 11: The Air Quality Control Commission will hold another public comment hearing from 6-8 in Durango. This is a chance to show up and speak out for stronger clean air rules, click here for more info >>
- Thursday December 12: This morning there’s a big federal court hearing in WildEarth Guardians’ lawsuit against seven oil and gas companies for violating the Clean Air Act in Colorado. This lawsuit challenges industry’s abuse of the 90-day loophole, which allows companies to frack without legally required clean air permits. The hearing starts at 9:30 AM and will take place at the federal courthouse in Denver.
- Monday December 16: The Air Quality Control Commission is holding another public comment hearing for oil and gas clean air rules, this one is in Loveland and starts at 4:30 PM, This is a chance for Colorado Front Range residents to show up and speak out for stronger rules, click here for more info >>
- Tuesday December 17 through Thursday December 19: The Air Quality Control Commission is set to kick off its formal rulemaking hearing. WildEarth Guardians will be providing testimony and advocating for stronger rules on behalf of the Clean Air, Climate, and Health Coalition. We’ll also be fighting back against industry efforts to weaken new rules.
If you can’t show up to one or more of these events, then at least sign our petition calling on Colorado Governor Jared Polis to get behind stronger clean air rules, including a ban on flaring!
The oil and gas industry’s toxic emissions are not only fueling dangerous levels of ground-level ozone, particularly along the Front Range, but also threatening communities and residents with cancer-causing benzene and other harmful gases.
It’s no wonder regulators have been blunt that current levels of fracking pollution are “not acceptable.”
Spurred in large part by the passage of new state legislation that puts public health and safety ahead of the interests of the oil and gas industry, the Air Commission is weighing whether to adopt new rules to clamp down on emissions.
Deemed a “first step” to fully confronting the oil and gas industry’s pollution, the rules stand to eliminate loopholes, tighten controls, and ensure greater transparency around companies’ emissions.
The proposed rules come as report after report shows regulation is dangerously inadequate.
Current rules are not only flawed, but not effectively enforced. Researchers also continue to confirm that regulators have drastically underestimated total emissions, erroneously claiming that industry’s pollution has been reduced.
What’s more, health studies continue to confirm significant short and long-term risk to people and communities in proximity to fracking sites.
Compounding these health risks, the Denver Metro/Front Range region continues to fail to meet health standards for ozone, the key ingredient of smog. On December 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will declare the area a “serious” nonattainment area for ozone.
To top it off, industry is chronically violating clean air laws, abusing a loophole that in some situations allows companies to obtain permits to frack after drilling and beginning production.
Last May, WildEarth Guardians sued seven companies in federal court under the Clean Air Act to put an end to this abuse and these widespread violations. A hearing in this case is scheduled for this Thursday, December 12 in Denver.
There is a need for stronger clean air rules in Colorado, to eliminate loopholes, and to slash emissions. And the Air Quality Control Commission has adopt new rules as a first step forward.
However, from our perspective, the science is clear that to truly restore clean air, the state has to wind down and ultimately phase out oil and gas extraction.
Coupled with the need to fully safeguard public health and protect the climate, Colorado needs to ultimately get off fossil fuels.
If the Governor is serious about clean air and health, then he has to support the Air Quality Control Commission and also push for even deeper pollution cuts and a move away from oil and gas extraction.
We’ll see how everything unfolds over the next week or so. Hopefully Colorado will take the first big step toward reining in the oil and gas industry’s toxic air pollution and set the stage to help the state transition away from fossil fuels.
While Colorado has made bold commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, if Governor Jared Polis overlooks the full carbon footprint of the oil and gas industry, the state stands to fall short of achieving meaningful climate action.
Implementing the Colorado Climate Action Plan
This week, officials with the Governor’s Office, Department of Public Health and Environment, and Energy Office are set to unveil a roadmap for meeting the state’s ambitious climate goals.
At the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s monthly meeting this Thursday, they’ll share more around the “development, scope, and timing” of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
The briefing comes as the Air Commission will develop rules to implement House Bill 19-1261, otherwise known as the Colorado Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution. The Plan sets three key goals for reducing climate pollution:
- Achieve a 26% reduction (below 2005 levels) in statewide greenhouse gases by 2025;
- Then achieve a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030; and
- Finally achieve a 90% reduction in emissions by 2050.
Without a doubt, these are aggressive goals. Achieving them is exactly the bold action needed to confront the climate crisis right now.
However, if Governor Polis and the Air Commission aren’t careful, any statewide climate gains could be erased in the face of ramped up fracking.
The reason: Colorado is a huge exporter of oil and gas.
Colorado’s Outsized Climate Footprint
That means Colorado has an outsized climate footprint that extends far beyond its state lines. But just how big is this footprint?
We can calculate that using factors developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that estimate how much lifecycle carbon pollution (i.e., from production to consumption) is tied to oil and gas production.
According to these factors:
- For every barrel of oil produced, 0.43 metric tons of carbon dioxide is ultimately released.
- And for every thousand cubic feet of gas produced, 0.0551 metric tons of carbon is ultimately released.
Doing some math, we can see how much climate pollution Colorado exports as it pipes, trucks, and otherwise ships oil and gas out of state.
Let’s take oil and gas production in 2018.
According to a query of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission production data, companies sold more than 176 million barrels of oil and more than 2.2 billion thousand cubic feet (i.e., 2.2 trillion cubic feet) of gas in 2018, an unprecedented amount.
Crunch the numbers and that adds up to nearly 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emission.
Based on projections for 2019, where even higher levels of production are expected, we’ll likely see emissions associated with oil and gas production exceed 200 million metric tons.
The table below shows total production by year and estimated carbon emissions.
To put this all into perspective, Colorado’s most recent greenhouse gas inventory report discloses that in 2015, total statewide emissions from ALL sectors amounted to nearly 127 million metric tons of carbon.
By 2020, regulators project statewide emissions of a little over 125 million metric tons of carbon.
That means oil and gas production is responsible for nearly twice as much climate pollution as all other sources of emissions within the state of Colorado.
Also to put this into perspective, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas equivalency calculator, 200 million metric tons of carbon equals the amount of climate pollution released every year by 51 coal-fired power plants.
Now it’s true, not all oil and gas produced is shipped out of state to be burned.
Yet with more than 90% of oil and the vast majority of all gas exported, it still means statewide emissions pale in comparison to the climate footprint of the oil and gas industry.
Confronting Colorado’s Full Climate Impacts
This means at current rates of fracking, even if Colorado achieves its greenhouse gas reduction goals, it will still be responsible for a huge amount of climate pollution.
Any climate action plan that refuses to acknowledge this or do anything about it would be an utter failure.
So what can Governor Polis and the Air Quality Control Commission do?
Even though Colorado’s Climate Action Plan is based on statewide greenhouse gas reductions, it doesn’t mean that regulators can’t prioritize opportunities to reduce emissions that lead to reductions in oil and gas emissions even outside the state.
For example, the Air Commission could prioritize setting rules that actually decrease the level of oil and gas production in Colorado, such as through a declining cap on emissions and an offsetting program.
And it doesn’t mean that regulators can’t start to disclose total lifecycle oil and gas industry emissions associated with oil and gas production.
Ultimately, Governor Polis and the Air Quality Control Commission have to acknowledge the need to wind down and ultimately phase out oil and gas extraction in the state.
That may be a tough political pill to swallow, but to do otherwise is nothing short of climate denial. The reality is, Colorado can’t frack its way to a safe climate.
A Healthy Move
Helping Colorado transition away from oil and gas production wouldn’t just be good for the climate, it stands to greatly improve the state’s air quality and health.
Along the Front Range “unacceptable” levels of oil and gas industry air pollution have pushed ground-level ozone concentrations to dangerous highs. Ozone, which is a key ingredient of smog, is such a serious problem along the Front Range that the Environmental Protection Agency is set to sanction Colorado for failing to comply with health standards.
The study underscores that reining in fracking near homes and communities will safeguard public health. In doing so, it will also keep greenhouse gases in check.
A Call to Action
WildEarth Guardians and its partners are calling on Governor Polis and the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to clamp down on fracking and help the state transition from oil and gas.
However, we need your help to make this happen! If you haven’t yet, sign the petition today and tell Colorado’s Governor and the Air Commission that they need to clamp down on the oil and gas industry and rein in their toxic pollution.
If Colorado has any chance of meaningfully confronting the climate crisis, it has to rein in fracking and oil and gas extraction.
Fracking is decimating clean air in Colorado, putting health, safety, and communities at risk.
That’s why WildEarth Guardians and several other partners are stepping up to ensure the state adopts strong new rules to rein in the oil and gas industry’s pollution and start putting people first.
In a Prehearing Statement filed last week, we spearheaded efforts to defend Colorado’s clean air, climate, and health from fracking.
Together with Colorado Rising, 350 Colorado, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Mothers Out Front, the Lookout Alliance, Fort Collins Sustainability Group, and the Larimer Alliance for Health, Environment and Safety–collectively the Clean Air, Climate, and Health Coalition–we called on the Air Quality Control Commission to adopt new rules that:
- Eliminate oil and gas industry loopholes
- Ratchet down aggressively on oil and gas industry emissions statewide
- Ensure comprehensive emission inventories of industry’s toxic pollution
- Make sure industry controls its air pollution as early as possible
- And most importantly, prohibit flaring
On the last point, our goal is put an end to the dirty and wasteful practice of flaring at oil and gas well sites. If a company has to flare, they shouldn’t be allowed to drill, frack or produce. Period.
We’ve already called on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to stop letting the fracking industry burn its gas. Now we need state air regulators to step up.
Our Prehearing Statement was filed as part of a rulemaking proceeding before the Air Quality Control Commission. The proceeding will culminate with a three day hearing in mid-December in Denver where we intend to provide testimony and urge the Commission to clamp down on the oil and gas industry.
This rulemaking was spurred by the passage of Colorado Senate Bill 19-181, which directed the Air Commission to take further steps to rein in the oil and gas industry’s air pollution.
Our Clean Air, Climate, and Health Coalition is engaging for one reason: to compel Colorado air regulators to start saying “no” to the oil and gas industry.
As we’ve said previously, “if Colorado’s Governor is serious about reining in unhealthy air pollution, we have no choice but to set real limits on fracking and oil and gas production in the state. In the face of ramped up drilling, better emission controls simply won’t cut it.”
– Colorado Clean Air, Climate, and Health Coalition
Stay tuned for more as this rulemaking process unfolds and get involved as opportunities arise! There will be public hearings throughout the state in December, including on the Western Slope in the towns of Rifle and Durango, and one along the Front Range in Loveland.
Oil and gas spills continue to be the norm, not the exception in the State of Colorado.
This week we updated our series of maps documenting oil and gas industry spills in the state and highlighting the terrible toll the fracking industry continues to take on clean water, air, lands, and more.
Of note, in 2018, there were nearly 600 spills reported in 2018, a rate of nearly 12 per week.
Check out our story map series below and see for yourself how the oil and gas industry is endangering public health, safety, and the environment in Colorado on a daily basis. You can also click here to access a stand-alone version of the map series >>
The data, which is from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, paints a disturbing picture of the oil and gas industry’s impact to the state. Among other things, the data shows:
- Spills are happening across Colorado, in particular on the Western Slope and in the Denver Metro Area along the Front Range;
- Noble Energy, Kerr-McGee Oil and Gas, and PDC Energy, Inc. were the top three spillers in Colorado in 2018;
- The Colorado Front Range region, in particular Weld County, is the area most heavily impacted by oil and gas industry spills;
- Many spills are happening in close proximity to densely populated communities along Colorado’s Front Range; and
- Since 2015, 377 spills have impacted ground and surface water in Colorado.
Although legislation was passed earlier in 2019 mandating that public health, safety, and the environment come first when it comes to oil and gas regulation, it’s clear that Colorado still has a long way to go to put people over fracking.
And that’s why calls for a time-out on fracking are mounting in Colorado. In fact, the public is increasingly vocal about the need for restraint when it comes to fracking in Colorado.
With another study confirming #Colorado’s health threatened by oil and gas, it’s clear we need to put brakes on new #fracking. @GovofCO @jaredpolis, we need a #TimeOut on new drilling! #PausethePermits, #ProtectHealth, #COForCleanAir
— Laura LaVertu (@LauraLaVertu) November 1, 2019
The justification for a time-out on new fracking in Colorado is growing stronger by the day.
In the past month, we’ve seen new studies confirming health risks from fracking, ongoing health and environmental impacts from fracking along Colorado’s Front Range, more evidence that oil and gas pipelines remain a major threat to public safety in Colorado, and more confirmation that the oil gas industry is eroding away clean air in Colorado on a near-daily basis.
It’s crazy that Governor Polis, the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and the Department of Public Health and Environment aren’t exercising more restraint when deciding whether to approve more fracking in the state.
Colorado’s health, safety, and environment continue to take a backseat to the oil and gas industry. We hope that changes soon.
With oil and gas extraction still taking a tremendous toll on Colorado’s health and Colorado, WildEarth Guardians joined several other partners last week to confront the fracking industry’s toxic emissions.
In a filing with the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, the Clean Air, Climate, and Health Coalition requested party status in a new rulemaking process promising to take the first critical steps toward reining in the industry’s pollution.
The Coalition includes WildEarth Guardians, Colorado Rising, 350 Colorado, Physicians for Social Responsibility–Colorado, Mothers Out Front–Colorado, The Lookout Alliance, the Fort Collins Sustainability Group, and the Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety, and the Environment.
The filing ensures our coalition has a seat at the table as the Air Quality Control Commission decides whether and to what extent to adopt new rules limiting oil and gas companies’ air emissions. The Commission is set to make its decision in December as part of a three day rulemaking hearing.
Our message to the Air Quality Control Commission? Go bold or go home.
With ramped up fracking continuing to take a toll on Colorado’s clean air and public health, it’s clear the Commission needs to move as aggressively as possible to curtail the oil and gas industry’s emissions.
Air regulations have already said the current level of oil and gas industry air pollution is “not acceptable.”
And with Governor Jared Polis saying the interests of Coloradans “are best served by moving aggressively forward and without delay” to rein in unhealthy air pollution, there’s simply no excuse for not moving quickly and effectively.
The need for heightened safeguards was underscored last week with the release of the latest healthy study in Colorado confirming significant health risks from fracking.
That study, commissioned by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, found exposure to oil and gas emissions up to 2,000 feet away threaten peoples’ health. The study also confirmed that health risks are highest when companies are drilling and fracking.
Armed with this study, which is just the latest addition to a huge body of other scientific reports detailing the negative health risks and impacts associated with oil and gas extraction, our coalition plans to call on the Air Quality Control Commission to do the following:
- Eliminate the 90-day loophole, which allows the oil and gas industry to frack without legally required clean air permits.
- Prohibit flaring, which is not only dirty and wasteful, but also not allowed under the state’s oil and gas laws.
- Require all oil and gas storage tanks to have pollution controls.
- Ensure emission controls are used as early as possible, including during drilling and fracking.
- Don’t allow the permitting of oil and gas well sites within 2,000 feet of homes or other occupied buildings.
On the latter issue, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has already taken steps to more closely scrutinize fracking permits for well sites within 2,000 feet of homes. It simply makes sense for the Air Commission to similarly draw the line on allowing any toxic emissions within this same distance.
Ultimately, we need rules that compel Colorado air regulators to start saying “no” to the oil and gas industry.
Indeed, if Colorado’s Governor is serious about reining in unhealthy air pollution, we have no choice but to set real limits on fracking and oil and gas production in the state. In the face of ramped up drilling, better emission controls simply won’t cut it.
The bottomline is, there’s too much pollution in Colorado and the only solution is to rein in the industry’s footprint. Put another way, we have to start keeping oil and gas in the ground.
That’s not just good for Colorado’s clean air, that’s good for the climate and good for the health of Coloradans.
Stay tuned for more as this rulemaking process unfolds and get involved as opportunities arise! There will be public hearings throughout the state in December, including on the Western Slope in the towns of Rifle and Durango, and one along the Front Range in Loveland.
In the meantime, our Coalition is going to do everything we can to hold the oil and gas industry accountable to our clean air, climate, and health.
In case you didn’t know, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program does a lot of tweeting at the handle @ClimateWest. We often post threads on Twitter, which are a series of tweets that help us tell more robust stories. We thought we’d try to convert some of our threads to blog posts so folks who aren’t on Twitter (or just aren’t keen on Twitter) can also have a chance to read and enjoy.
With that said, enjoy our first of what are likely to be many Twitter threads transformed into what we hope are even more insightful blog posts. And if you’re into Twitter, be sure to follow us @ClimateWest. Scroll down to read more!