Guest Post: Colorado must better regulate the oil and gas industry

Lawmakers need to learn from Broomfield 'debacle.'

oil gas property rights civil rights
Illustration credit: Mark Castillo with graphic elements from www.vecteezy.com

Three years ago, I heard a large fracking project was coming to my neighborhood. I did some research and everything I found brought more alarm, from the explosions to the health studies, it was obvious this didn’t belong in residential areas.

Our community decided to get involved in the process and honestly thought that citizen participation would change the tide of these massive industrial projects next to homes.

We tried everything. We went to every city council meeting with informed testimony, we appealed to our state representatives and supported minimal changes to regulations, we went to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission [COGCC] meetings and voiced our concerns. We even hosted a COGCC forum and meeting right here in Broomfield.

We took on the task of running a local ballot measure (301) which passed by a large majority, despite massive spending from oil and gas to defeat it. The measure mandated our city ensure the protection of health and safety was met before allowing oil and gas development to proceed. We literally tried everything.

Even with the undeniable risks of this project, with multiple explosions happening at various oil and gas sites during the approval process, with kids in Erie having large amounts of benzene in their blood, nothing changed the course. I believe that my own child may have experienced nosebleeds in correlation to a drilling operation happening in the vicinity of her preschool. The odors from this site were researched by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The findings in this report support that nearby drilling operations could have contributed to symptoms being reported. Even with stories like mine and others being shared, the project was approved by our local government and by the state.

Broomfield resident are still trying. We now have three active lawsuits challenging this project; one in local court, one in state court, and one in federal court. We are fighting for our constitutional rights to be upheld, and we are fighting for the ability to protect ourselves from harm. And still, this project moves forward. Sound walls are going up. Pipeline is being laid. We are helpless. Our rights and our health and safety are being harmed.

The state of Colorado has it wrong. The state is forcing its residents to accept dangerous operations into their communities. It is forcing residents to live with unacceptable air quality and irreversible damage being done to the environment. Mineral owners are being forced to give up their property to private corporations they may not want to do business with. The state is allowing all of us to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. They say it is okay to put explosive operations near homes and schools. This is not what our government was meant to do. Our government was meant to protect people. It was not meant to aid in the harm and destruction of our communities and our environment for the sake of a corporation’s bottom line.

Before this whole debacle started I was a lifelong Republican. As a result of this, I have unaffiliated from the party, but have yet to put a ‘D’ by my name. Honestly, I have yet to see the Democrats step up to respond to this crisis in a way that would compel me to do that.

It is up to our elected officials to right these wrongs. The industry is going to cry “overreach” on any reform that comes forward. Yet, the legislature has the power to stop the overreach of this industry that has been dominating our lives in Broomfield for the past three years. What we went through and are still enduring in Broomfield, no other community should have to deal with.

This is it. Time is up. No more excuses. Our legislature must rewrite the oil and gas laws so that there is no misunderstanding. The law needs to clearly state that protecting the health and safety of Colorado residents and protecting our environment is not optional, it is a mandatory condition that must be met.

The Colorado Independent occasionally runs guest posts from government officials, local experts and concerned citizens on a variety of topics. These posts are meant to provide diverse perspectives and do not represent the views of The Independent. To pitch a guest post, please contact tips@coloradoindependent.com or visit our submission page

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks, Cristen Logan for the analysis of the pitiful state of oil and gas development near densely populated areas.

    • Christen Logan, and fellow Coloradans,
      I work in this so called “horrible” industry, an Industry that is already heavily regulated. I have worked for the past 11 years,in close proximity to this so called “pollution”, I suffer from zero health problems. So do the thousands of people in this Industry. You talk about explosions, and insinuate lots of people died. Should we ban cars? They cause so many more deaths, and are heavily regulated also. Accidents happen and tragically People die. Do you know the actual facts of the house explosion in Frederick? Democrats used those tragic deaths as a political tool.
      Fracking is an old proven way to safely extract oil and gas from deep within the ground. What depth is our ground water? The average oil and gas wells go to a depth of over 6’,500 ft, and use multiple layers of protection. These layers of protection allow the oil and gas to be brought to the surface safely. The “chemicals” are no more harmful than ordinary household items like dishsoap.
      The Fact is a majority of Coloradans voted to defeat Prop 112, because it was an over regulating attempt by certain people to shut down the Industry. The same goal of the “radical Governor, Speaker of the House(from Boulder), want to shutdown the Industry. They do this in the “fake name” of safety, citing the tragic deaths in one house explosion in Frederick. Cristen you stated you opinion, not facts, where are you facts? The fact is this Industry is heavily regulated, safe, and no more harmful than you driving your car, or turning on your heat/ac. Btw, without oil and gas we all would live in the dark ages. The oil and gas, estimated 31 billion, is a great asset to this State and Economy. The jobs of people not employed by the Industry will be affected also. People where we buy our cars, groceries, fuel, homes, electricity, gas, water,sewer, and other services. I looked for your name as a registered voter, and didn’t see it. Clearly you don’t care enough to vote, just state your opinion.

  2. Well said, Cristen. How has oil & gas industry been allowed to run roughshod over Colorado and its citizens the past 10 years? It’s unconscionable and a dereliction of duty by our state lawmakers.

    If you think you’re safe, fellow citizens, think again. Six-thousand well permits are in the pipeline, all the way to Douglas County. And remember, the toxic air circulates over the metro basin. We’re all in this together.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for all you’re doing to protect your community, Cristen. So many are suffering because of this industry. It’s past time for our state govt. to take action to stop this poisoning of our children and the contribution to the climate crisis. Hopefully the bill introduced yesterday will provide significant protections so badly needed.

  4. Christan,
    You have stated your beliefs of what caused your child to have nose bleeds. And you probably own the home you live in, but you do not own the mineral rights under the land. State does on open range, and ranchers, or others own the surface rights, and many own the mineral rights under their properties. They have the right to extract their property, and they do share with state, and the federal economy, when they do.
    ——-I first visited Colorado in 1951, when I was sent from Nevada, to Lowry AFB, to attend a training class. Was very interesting to me, since class was to teach others, what I had been doing in Nevada for preceding 8 months. Master Sergeant who was to teach that class, queried class first day, and I was last to be asked of about 30. When I told him, his next order was “Corporal, bring your chair up and sit beside me. You are going to teach this class, and me”. When I returned to Nevada, I found I had been promoted again, to Sergeant (4 promotions in 8 months). So I had time to date young woman in Denver, who I married the next year, 1952.
    —– My point: iIn relation to your comment, Denver was heated by coal and wood fires in 1950-51 and for some time afterwards. Denver, in basin, east of mountains, had heavy black and brown clouds in the sky, unless the wind was blowing. And there was complaints then, just as you stated of health, bad water, and health problems, due to coal and wood fires. Lot of folks had problems.
    —— I would point out to you, that Denver Metro area, including Broomfield, is about 5,000 ft. altitude, closer to the sun, and subject to health problems. When the coal and wood smoke lessened with more Electric available, and gas furnaces or stoves installed, then the we had the military centers and also development of land where chemicals, nuclear triggers manufactures, and lot of other stuff. Low and behold, same complaints arose of children harmed, lot of sickness, with doctor visits and hospital stays. Life goes on, and now it is the energy business that is blamed for same complaints that always existed. .
    —— Colorado is not the only state with oil-gas-coal being developed, you know. And my understanding is when permits are issued, test of water and air is taken at sites, before start, so a base is established. Then test are done on periodic schedule, with required reports, if an accident occurs. AND YOU DO KNOW , I HOPE, THAT ENDERGY DEVELOPMENT AND USE, is National Security Need. Reason President Donald Trump is able to force other country leaders into changing contracts, treaties, because USA is now EXPORTING COUNTRY. And our energy is cheaper to acquire, then Russia, China, or others countries . Just saying, This will continue as long as you and others cannot prove this is effecting you. I suspect the sun, life style, and other things are causing your complains. Reason others have stated same, but only present complaint. NOT VALID PROOF. (I am 90 years old (Nov) and wife and I have been to 44 of the 50 states. Have Children in California, South Carolina, Colorado, with grandchildren more spread out, across country.

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