COLORADANS CALL ON COGCC TO HALT PERMITTING OF NEW OIL AND GAS WELLS BEFORE ELECTION – LET THE VOTERS DECIDE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Julia Williams, outreach@350colorado.org, 970-948-1439

***PRESS RELEASE***

COLORADANS CALL ON COGCC TO HALT PERMITTING OF NEW OIL AND GAS WELLS BEFORE ELECTION – LET THE VOTERS DECIDE

LEAKED EMAILS RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT FAIRNESS IN THE COGCC PUBLIC COMMENT PROCESS AS SUPPORT FOR PROP 112 GAINS MOMENTUM

DENVER, CO – Outraged by the ongoing lack of concern for public health and the environment, Colorado residents offered public comment at today’s COGCC hearing, demanding the state regulatory agency pause all new oil and gas permits ahead of the upcoming election where Colorado voters weigh in on Proposition 112.

Just one week before the election, the docket for the hearing includes thousands of pending permit applications, which if approved would be grandfathered into the current setbacks of 500 ft from occupied structures and 1,000 ft from schools. In addition to the pending vote on Proposition 112, the ongoing Martinez v COGCC appeals court case states that public health and safety must be prioritized over oil and gas interests.

Additionally, In two separate emails received this week, 350 Colorado recently learned of possible preferential treatment given to pro oil and gas speakers at today’s Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) hearing. The day before the COGCC opened up registration for public comment, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) sent an email to their members with special instructions for registering to speak that differed from instructions given to the public. The email instructed members to send an email directly to the Hearings and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Julie Prine, rather than using the online registration form required of the public. The same email was sent to COGA members on Friday, hours after registration for the public had closed. The request raised questions as to whether or not the COGA attempted to give those speaking in favor of the industry priority during public comment.

When questioned at the hearing, COGCC’s Julie Prine stated that anyone who emailed her was directed to the same sign up form as the public. However, instructions in COGA’s email state The COGCC is asking that requests to provide public comment be sent directly to Julie.Prine@state.co.us. We recommend submitting your request to speak as soon as possible.” Additionally, in an an response asking if it was too late to sign up on Friday, COGA’s Scott Prestige responded, “It may not be. The best thing to do will be to email Julie Prime below to see if she can get you in. Perhaps mention that you will keep it to 2-3min in support of the industry, so that she knows you intend to respect the process and not grandstand.

“Whether or not the COGCC collaborated with COGA in anyway to attempt to give preference to oil and gas speakers, this is just another example of this industry ignoring and attempting to bypass existing regulations and protocol in our state. The oil and gas industry is constantly pushing back and finding new ways to evade our regulatory agencies to maximize their own profits,” said Julia Williams of 350 Colorado.

Hundreds of local residents have given over 25 of hours of testimony in support of greater protections from residential, industrial oil and gas operations over the last year at COGCC meetings and over 1,100 complaints were filed in one year alone. Additionally, several letters representing a broad coalition of individuals and organizations have been submitted to Governor Hickenlooper demanding a halt to any new oil and gas permitting before the election.

“This is a reasonable expectation of your office on behalf of the citizens of Colorado. We expect and deserve your unequivocal support for the Constitutional process of determining the will of the people through direct democracy by citizen initiated legislation. The voters have been duly empowered to make a law. This 11th-hour mass permitting is disempowerment and it’s just not right,” said Steven Todd – Faith Leaders for Prop 112.

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Link to Facebook live coverage of public comments period

Link to audio from COGCC YouTube Page

QUOTE DECK:

“I’m supporting the 2500′ setback initiative because I’m being told that I can’t do anything. As a mother I’m being told I can’t do what I need to do to protect my children,” said Paula Oransky of Erie, CO. “I’ve complained to my city council members, county commissioners, senators and COGCC, but everyone is pointing at each other saying they can’t do anything – it’s someone else’s responsibility. That is not acceptable to me as a mother that I can’t protect my children’s schools, home and playgrounds from benzene exposure and explosions. That’s why I’m supporting the 2500′ setbacks initiative and encourage you to do the same.”

“The overly-cozy relationship between the COGCC and the oil and gas industry is exemplified by their analysis of 2500’ setbacks that looked only at land surface area that would be off-limits to drilling and didn’t take into account the fact that the industry frequently horizontally drills 2 miles or more underground to access oil and gas far from surface drill sites,” said Micah Parkin with 350 Colorado. “This partial picture analysis promoted industry propaganda and led to public confusion that 2500’ setbacks would make the vast majority of oil and gas inaccessible when that is not the case. Once 2 mile horizontal drilling is taken into account, a recent CO School of Mines report shows that almost three times as much subsurface real estate for drilling or fracking is accessible, resulting not a 85% exclusion, but actually a 53% of nonfederal land subsurface. And when you factor in that 35.9% of Colorado is federal land, which Prop 112 cannot affect, this results in just 33.9% of CO subsurface land being off limits, which is very reasonable considering our booming residential areas that should be protected.”

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Colorado Rising is powering the grassroots movement to pass Proposition 112 – a common sense measure that will protect public health & safety by creating a 2500 foot buffer zone between new oil & gas operations and our homes, schools and water sources.

To learn more about Prop 112, please go to www.corising.org

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