Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate
Groups Renew Call for Timeout on New Fracking in Colorado
“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,” the groups said in a letter to the Colorado Governor.
Groups joining the letter include WildEarth Guardians, Colorado Rising, 350 Colorado, Mothers Out Front—Colorado, Physicians for Social Responsibility—Colorado, Citizens for a Healthy Community, Weld Air and Water, Be the Change, Our Children’s Trust, Call to Action, and Northern Colorado Community Rights.
This week, a series of public hearings are scheduled around Colorado’s efforts to adopt new rules to limit air pollution, protect public health, and address the cumulative environmental impacts of oil and gas extraction.
Today, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is hosting an initial public outreach meeting around efforts to strengthen clean air rules for the oil and gas industry.
WildEarth Guardians and others have called on the Department to adopt strong new safeguards to slash toxic emissions from the oil and gas industry and start limiting climate pollution.
A coalition earlier this year called on the Oil and Gas Commission to halt new oil and gas drilling permits while the Commission develops new rules to protect public health and the environment from oil and gas extraction.
These hearings come in response to two new bills passed in 2019: SB-181, which requires that public health and environment come first when it comes to oil and gas regulation, and HB-1261, which sets greenhouse gas reduction goals for Colorado.
In spite of these bills passing, the state continues to permit new oil and gas extraction at near record levels and continues to let industry take advantage of loopholes to undermine public health and the environment.
“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,” the groups wrote today to Governor Polis.
Today’s letter heightens the call for a timeout on new fracking in Colorado and explicitly calls on Governor Polis to:
- 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,” the groups said in today’s letter.