League Urges City Leadership to Prioritize Oil and Gas Risk Management

The following letter was submitted to Fort Collins City Council:

I am writing to you on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Larimer County to urge you to retain Oil and Gas as a priority on the City’s 2018 State legislative priority list.

As you know, O&G-related issues continue to be front and center all along the northern Front Range. Just as in the 2017 session, the 2018 General Assembly will be dealing with many proposed bills on energy and the environment, which necessarily include O&G. It’s in the best interests of the City of Fort Collins and its residents for Council to continue to maintain a close watch on O&G-related proposed legislation so that it can promptly identify and assess potential impacts on the City. Some issues that may arise this session include public health and safety related to O&G; e.g., house explosions triggered by leaking underground O&G lines; definitions of reasonable set-backs for O&G operations; etc.

In connection with your review of proposed legislation, we ask your attention to the recently released study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  The NCAR Study lists emissions from O&G operations as the primary local contributor to Fort Collins’s too-high ozone levels. The City’s ozone levels far exceed national standards. This results in negative – and expensive — health impacts on City residents. Residents bear most of the cost of their increased health care expenses, but so too do local employers through the costs of lost productivity and higher employer-sponsored health insurance premiums. 

With regard to the high local ozone levels, we want to thank the City for its efforts to address these ozone dangers by developing and promoting City transit as a convenient (and healthier) alternative to using personal cars.

We also want to take this opportunity to urge Council to put into place a program to identify and assess the currently unknown risks to residents and businesses posed by underground O&G wells and lines.  The City of Longmont provides an excellent example of how to obtain the information necessary to assess these risks. Their staff verifies the exact location of and investigates conditions and safety of plugged and abandoned wells within the city limits.   These inspections are intended to check whether the wells were properly abandoned, and to confirm that no water, soil, or air contamination exists from past drilling activities.  For more information about Longmont’s program, please view slides from a recent presentation HERE.

As this letter illustrates, O&G issues must of necessity continue to be a legislative priority for the City Council in 2018.

Thank you for your consideration of our comments.
Sincerely yours,
Sarah Pitts, Spokesperson, League of Women Voters of Larimer County

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