A request from Colorado’s oil and gas regulators for new regulations to limit the industry’s broader climate impacts would amount to a de facto ban on further energy development in the state, Garfield County officials say.
Last week, county commissioners joined other oil and gas producing counties in commenting on the petition filed with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) in August by several environmental groups, led by Wild Earth Guardians, based in New Mexico.
The petition should be rejected outright, the commissioners said.
“This is just another case where we see individuals and organizations who want to kill oil and gas development in the county, the state and around the world,” Commissioner Mike Samson said at the meeting. Board of County Commissioners November 21.
“To me, it’s such a stupid thing to do,” he said. “I want to appeal to the common sense of people in this state who are in positions of power, to stop and think, and analyze what they are doing to this state. This is another example of people trying to destroy things we need for a high quality of life.
The petition, backed by groups including 350 Colorado and the Sierra Club of Colorado, calls on the COGCC to enact rules to assess and address “cumulative atmospheric impacts” and address environmental justice concerns regarding populations under -represented.
It focuses on the cumulative impacts of atmospheric emissions in the region, “as well as the inclusion of rules to assess and address the disproportionate impact of oil and gas production, particularly on communities of color, including indigenous communities, and regions experiencing above-average warming.” .”
While much of the concern centers on areas of ‘non-compliance’ with air quality standards in the northern Frontal Range, the western slope is not immune to this. , the petition states.
“Western Colorado has warmed more than twice the national average, with communities already experiencing warming of 1.5 to 2.4 degrees Celsius,” the petition claims. Garfield County in particular has seen an average annual warming of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), according to a county-by-county chart included in the petition and derived from a Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning series. in 2020, “Beyond the limit”.
The petition calls for any area of Colorado that has experienced a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius to be closed to new oil and gas development.
“Despite extensive assessments of the impacts of climate change that have been conducted by Colorado, national and international government agencies, the (existing) rules do not address these impacts,” the petition states.
Garfield County Oil and Gas Liaison Kirby Wynn said the request, if granted, would effectively ban new oil and gas development and production in Garfield County and throughout the state.
It also asks the COGCC to “get out of its way” on issues typically handled by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“The COGCC is fulfilling its stated intent and obligation to address cumulative impacts through the current requirements of the repurpose rules and by collecting data to better understand the issues in a way that will more optimally inform future regulation in order to further strengthen reasonable and necessary safeguards against cumulative impacts within the regulatory authority and technical capacity of the commission,” notes the county’s letter to the COGCC, which was authored by Wynn.
“We can’t have energy independence in this country if we shut down natural gas production in Colorado,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said, adding that the county supports an “all of the above” approach to natural gas production. energy to achieve it. .
“Having these groups that would try to shut down all oil and gas production in Colorado is the opposite of what we stand for in Colorado,” he said.
The stakes not just for Colorado, but for the global climate as a whole, are too high, states the petition to defend the claim.
“It is indisputable that climate change is a cumulative impact of oil and gas operations and is already harming the health of Coloradons, our ecosystems, our agriculture and our recreation industry, and is the cause of many of the Colorado’s biggest recent disasters. history,” the petition reads.
Further, “Colorado, which in addition to emitting more than its global ‘share’ of emissions, has seen its own local warming exceed global averages, bears a larger share of the blame than its share of population for being part of solution,” he said. .
Public comments on the petition are due at the COGCC this Friday, and the commission is meeting Dec. 9 in Denver to discuss the matter. To submit comments and access the hearing remotely, visit cogcc.state.co.us/#/home.
Post Independent acting editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at [email protected] or 970-384-9160.