The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) has a number of concerns about oil and gas exploration within city limits and hydraulic fracturing. Those concerns include:
• Oil and gas extraction, particularly when hydraulic fracturing is involved, is an industrial operation that is very disruptive to both residential neighborhoods and commercial districts when conducted in close proximity to such areas.
• Hydraulic fracturing releases significant quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, unless special equipment is put in place to capture the methane. See http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/Howarthetal2012_Final.pdf for a thorough explanation of this problem.
• Hydraulic fracturing can impact the quality of both surface water and ground water. See http://www.cce.cornell.edu/EnergyClimateChange/NaturalGasDev/Documents/City%20and%20Regional%20Planning%20Student%20Papers/CRP5072_Water%20Quality%20Final%20Report.pdf for a thorough discussion of this problem.
In response to these issues, FCSG believes that the City of Fort Collins should take the following steps:
• Demand that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) require methane capture on all fracked wells, require thorough cleaning of flowback and produced water for all fracked wells, and hire enough personnel to inspect and monitor every well in the state to ensure that wells do not contaminate ground water,
•Develop regulations covering those aspects of oil and gas extraction not explicitly arrogated by the COGCC, including, but not limited to, the emission of methane and other pollutants from wells and traffic in the vicinity of wells,
•Be prepared to impose a moratorium on oil and gas exploration within city limits if any driller applies for a permit before new city regulations are put in place, and
• Enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the COGCC for local inspection authority to help ensure that state regulations are being followed.
Without adequate regulation and enforcement, the extraction of natural gas can be extremely damaging to both the environment and human health. FCSG will work to ensure that our concerns and recommendations are taken into account as the City of Fort Collins moves forward on addressing oil and natural gas exploration within city limits.
The Fort Collins Sustainability Group is an affiliate of the Fort Collins Community Action Network, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to achieving progressive, nonviolent social change. Contact us at:
P.O. Box 400
Fort Collins, CO 80522