LWVCO Position for Action on Hydraulic Fracturing:
LWVCO supports policies that enhance public participation in the permitting and monitoring of oil and gas operations in the state. LWVCO supports efforts to improve coordination with local governmental units for environmental management and wise land use. We support strong environmental regulations for water quality, air quality and those that impact human health.
- Public hearings held in the actual community of the drilling.
- Public notice of hearings on transparent user-friendly web sites and other media.
- Transparent, user-friendly web site to register complaints and view subsequent resolution.
- Use of the Local Government Designee (LGD) and education for LGD’s in the state in order to more easily respond to local citizen concerns.
- Strong environmental and safety regulation of water quality and air quality including pre and post testing of water wells and air around all oil and gas well sites.
- Transparency in the reporting of all chemicals used during drilling, posted on a neutral website that is easily accessible to the public.
- Adequate number of inspectors for the volume of oil & gas activity in the state to ensure that operations are safe and accidents are properly reported and mitigated.
- Research, development and use of environmentally friendly extraction methods and equipment, including those providing for the capture of methane.
- Monitoring of the water quantity used for oil and gas drilling operations in a manner that is transparent to the public.
- Reporting of information on the demands for water used for oil and gas drilling in specific river basins.
- Reuse of produced water, with regulatory oversight.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was established in 1951 to handle the permitting and oversight of oil and gas drilling operations. In 2007 LWVCO supported revamping the composition of the Commission to decrease the number of individuals working in the industry, and to increase the members representing concerns about health, the environment, and the interests of surface land owners. During the 2011 session, attempts were made to reverse this, but were defeated.
By early 2013 Colorado had over 49,000 oil and gas drilling operations, predominantly on the Front Range and in the southwest part of the state. As the number has increased over the last few years and operations have come closer to populated areas, legislation has been introduced to address a variety of health and safety issues. During the 2013 session League-supported bills passed increasing the number of inspectors for oil and gas operations and decreasing the lower limit for number of barrels spilled that triggers reporting requirements. LWVCO also supported bills allowing use of produced water for dust suppression, increasing penalties for violations, and mandating uniform groundwater sampling, but these failed.
LWVCO supported the original minimum instream flow legislation in 1973 and, when its constitutionality was in question, joined the lawsuit as a Friend of the Court; the Colorado Supreme Court found the law to be constitutional.
During the 1980’s the LWVCO worked for adoption of a groundwater quality regulatory program, resulting in the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) adopting a framework for regulation of groundwater quality in 1987. LWVCO participated in the development of toxic organic standards, adopted by the WQCC in 1989.
In 1992 the Colorado Water Quality Forum was organized so that all those affected by water quality decisions could attempt to find agreement on at least some regulatory issues. LWVCO has been a participant in this ongoing process.
From 1997 through 2009, the LWVCO Education Fund managed the Colorado Water Protection Project (CWPP), funded by the EPA’s Non-Point Source Program. The goal of the project was to increase public awareness about the causes of and solutions to urban polluted runoff. A later extension, “AWARE Colorado,” was developed to educate decision makers about the connection between land use and water quality. CWPP also published a statewide newsletter for the Non-Point Source Program.
Colorado Water, Revised 2001
Download your copy of Colorado Water.
State and local Leagues in Colorado work to protect air quality from pollutants emitted by power plants, particularly those located in the Four Corners region.
“The League of Women’s Voters of Montezuma County air quality concerns for southwest Colorado include: Credible air quality monitoring, the proposed Desert Rock Energy Project, emissions from the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) and the Four Corners Power Plant (FCPP), the potential for ozone non-attainment in our area, mercury deposition and effects on fisheries, and the complex air quality management jurisdictions in the Four Corners, which we believe merit increased communication by the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) with southwest Colorado. Our League has briefed county, city, and town elected officials on the increasing number of air pollution sources and the need for credible monitoring of our air. We now have an ozone and particulate monitoring station in Cortez, thanks to the APCD. Other new monitoring for mercury has been initiated by the U.S. Forest Service and the Mountain Studies Institute. We believe that for too long officials believed that the long term air monitoring being done at Chapin Mesa in Mesa Verde National Park was all the air monitoring that was needed in southwest Colorado. We reject that premise.”
From a letter to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, 6-10-2011
“While the standard for new power plants is an important first step, the LWVUS urges the EPA to extend the standard to existing power plants. Reducing emissions from these power plants is critical to addressing the growing danger that climate change poses to the health and welfare of U.S. citizens and people around the world, as acknowledged by both leading climate scientists and the EPA.”
From comments submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency, 10-30-2013