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The Lookout Alliance hosts fracking threat presentation

Series: Lookout Alliance | Story 2

December 18, 2019

On Thursday, Dec. 12, Lookout Alliance, 350 Boulder County, and Colorado Rising hosted a community forum that discussed threats from proposed fracking development in Boulder County. Currently, a moratorium that bans fracking development is in effect until March 2020. As this end date approaches, anti-fracking groups such as these are working to convince county commissioners to adopt revisions on oil and gas regulations or ban fracking altogether.

This forum brought together legal experts, environmental activists, and policy makers in hopes of further enlightening the community on the potential negative aspects of fracking. The presentation commenced with a breakdown of current oil and gas development in Colorado and explained the byproducts of fracking. Dr. Detlev Helming’s air quality samples were presented and showed how much and how often offgasses, including methane, have wafted through Boulder County, to Boulder Reservoir.

Tricia Olson, the founder and board president of Colorado Rising, discussed Boulder County Land Use Article 12 revisions. Olson said, “The current regulations in Article 12 cover a lot of broad land use topics but are really quite limited in what they actually do. Permits to drill and frack are not addressed per se, much less the concept of permit denial or a ban.”

Olson cited words like “mitigation” and “minimize” that are intentionally ambiguous and broad. She went on to caution that while SB 19-181 states that “local governments are allowed to avoid adverse impacts” it also dictates that they may “minimize and mitigate impacts that cannot be avoided.” Olson stressed, “Article 12 and its regulations are where the county commissioners will implement their version of local control.” There are no underlying standards in the regulations that speak to public health and Olson stressed that there absolutely should be.

Next, Joseph Salazar, civil rights attorney and former democratic representative, spoke about SB 19-181 and the potential for a full ban on fracking development. Salazar, executive director of Colorado Rising, said, “The oil and gas industry really doesn’t care where they’re going to drill. They wouldn’t care, if there weren’t regulations, how far away they would drill from your homes or how far away they would drill from your kids’ schools or your grandchildren's schools. They just want to get that mineral resource as quickly as possible.”

Salazar explained that when Extraction Oil & Gas was arguing against Proposition 112, Colorado Rising had the chance to look through the company’s documents. Within their files, Salazar and others found a study conducted on Colorado’s oil and gas development setback rules. The study contained comments from researchers that spoke to how dreadful the setback laws were and that greater setbacks should be in place for the safety of area residents.

Salazar stated that Boulder County can test the law to its fullest extent. He said, “That means we are going to test bans. Longmont has one in the books right now. It wasn’t struck down by the (Colorado) Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Instead, the (Colorado) Supreme Court kept the ban in the books and said it was just an operational conflict with state law prior to 181. We are looking to bring that ban back to life and say that it’s no longer an operational conflict because 181 allows cities and local governments to regulate in a manner that is more strict and more protective than the State of Colorado. Those are the actual words of SB 181.”

Salazar implored attendees to write Boulder County, urging commissioners to take full advantage of SB 19-181 and implement strict, clear regulations that would limit or ban fracking development in Boulder County. To learn more or to draft a letter, visit 350 Colorado’s site here, https://secure.ngpvan.com/19sfQ4Grj0GSm4FdBYJW_g2.


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