Fracking opponents declare Colorado Oil and Gas Commission illegitimate

Fracking opponents declare Colorado Oil and Gas Commission illegitimate

Anne Harper and her neighbors feel powerless to stop the Encana Corporation from adding 12 gas wells within a half mile of their homes in Pleasant View Ridge – a rural community that straddles unincorporated Boulder and Weld counties.

Harper doesn’t own mineral rights on the land, so she would have no legal recourse should there be any underground chemical leaching, blocked roads, spillage, explosions, noise pollution or any other infringement on her quality of life often associated with hydraulic fracturing.

Monday, she joined more than 30 fracking opponents packing a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meeting in Greeley to charge the commission with failing to regulate energy development “in a manner consistent with the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources,” as the commission states in its mission.

Coloradans Against Fracking, a coalition of 40 groups, showed up to declare that the commission is an illegitimate representative of the public interest. After delivering their message, the group walked out.

CAF’s two-page declaration accuses the COGCC of privileging the oil and gas industry while shutting out citizens’ input.

“Toxic air pollution, explosions, fires, earthquakes, and toxic spills contaminating ground water and polluting rivers and streams all continue to occur,” the declaration states. “Therefore, Coloradans Against Fracking must, in all moral conscience, reject any authority the failed Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission claims to hold.”

The meeting was convened to discuss two recommendations from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s oil and gas taskforce. The first recommendation would require oil and gas companies to consult with local governments about the location of large scale facilities. The second calls on companies to keep towns and cities in the loop about long-term extraction plans. Both are meant to facilitate more collaboration between industry and municipalities.

COGCC’s outreach meetings along the Front Range and Western Slope are designed to make space for input from local governments and other stakeholders, but activists say their voices aren’t being heard.

Harper called the COGCC “ineffective and non-communicative” with community members like herself “who have been fighting to preserve the Pleasant View area from these egregious industrial sites that will ruin our lives.”

In an email to The Colorado Independent, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources Todd Hartman said COGCC “respectfully disputes these many assertions.” In response to the declaration, he “would simply point to our long record of work across all interests to strike the right balance in regulating the development of our important energy resources and protecting communities and our environment.”

The COGCC listening tour already visited Broomfield, Brighton and Rifle. After its final stop in Durango on Thursday, the commission will start drafting rules to be reviewed in formal stakeholder meetings at the end of summer or early fall.


Photo via Karen Updike, Coloradans Against Fracking. 

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About the Author

Nat Stein

Nat Stein is a Denver-based reporter. Check out her other work at Cipher magazine, KRCC public radio, Jacobin magazine and In These Times.


  1. Robert on said:

    that was the plan all along…in order to silence us, Gov. Franenlooper sold us a bill of goods…Polis, was only worried about his own self…we have been steam rolled once again by Big Oily….

  2. Roger on said:

    Meanwhile Ann Harper and neighbors enjoy all the benifits from severance taxes collected from oil and gas extraction in there schools, road infrastructure, police and fire protection and all the economic blessings that come with the business under the watchful eye of the the most regulated oil and gas State in the nation. As they drive away and go to there homes and continue to consume and reap the benifits I wonder that if they had the mineral rights to there property, Would they be singing the same tune…Thank You COGCC for trying to work with all the consumers in a Lawful,safe and regulated mannor with everyone’s intrust in mind.

  3. J.D. on said:

    Greeley and Weld County, Colorado News

    April 13, 2015

    Noble Energy to pay $7.75 million less in 2012 taxes in Weld County

    Where is the money coming from?

    Noble Energy Inc. is going to pay more than $7.75 million less in 2012 taxes after the Weld County commissioners approved a petition for abatement Monday. Here’s where the largest portions of the tax money will come from.

    Weld County government: $2,340,600

    Aims Community College: $854,656

    Valley Re-1 School District (LaSalle/Platteville/Gilcrest): $633,568

    Platte Valley Re-7 School District (Kersey): $509,789

    High Plains Library District: $437,433

    Greeley-Evans School District 6: $382,335

    LaSalle Fire Protection District: $233,948

    Johnstown/Milliken Re-5J School District: $217,791

    Longmont Re-1J School District: $211,560

    Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District: $196,903

    Some tax districts will gain money from Noble’s revised 2012 tax filing. Here are the districts that will gain the most.

    Sand Hills Metropolitan District: $112,721

    Brighton Re-27J School District: $11,507

    Prairie Re-11J School District (New Raymer/Stoneham/Buckingham): $6,379

    Pawnee Re-12 School District (Grover/Hereford/Keota): $5,230

    Greater Brighton Fire Protection District: $2,466

    Source: Weld County assessor’s office

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