Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Jeff Robbins came to the Aug. 21 COGCC meeting in Glenwood Springs looking for a partnership with the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners on the enforcement of the health and safety provisions of Senate Bill 181. All I can say is don’t show your back to those partners, Jeff.
The leadership of Garfield County doesn’t care about the health and safety of their constituents, nor are they much concerned about the climate they’ll leave their children and grandchildren. What the Garfield County Commissioners worry about is money; revenues to fill the county coffers which already has over a million dollars in reserve, and campaign donations by the oil and gas industry so the commissioners will do their bidding.
The Commissioners opposed SB 181, just as they were against Proposition 112, and they’re using the same scare tactics to argue against it. “It’s going to create a recession in this area in Western Garfield County,” says Commissioner Tom Jankovsky.
What’s new about a fossil fuel industry-caused recession? The boom and bust cycle of that venture is well documented. There’s still plenty of people around here who remember the oil shale bust of 1980 that negatively impacted this county even more than the recession of 2008. When you hitch your wagon to a bucking bronco like the oil and gas industry, get ready for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Regulations aren’t causing the recent slump in oil and gas drilling in Garfield County. The market is drying up. Renewables are taking over. Businessmen like Mr. Jankovsky should know you can’t revitalize an industry that has no demand.
Look what’s happening to the coal industry to our neighbors to the north. No sooner had Wyoming become the nation’s leading coal producer than the power companies started shutting down coal-fired energy plants.
Coal isn’t coming back and all the other fossil fuels are headed down the same tubes. We’re fast approaching the point of no return on reversing the effects of climate change. We can’t keep consuming and extracting fossil fuels. When you’ve dug yourself into a hole, it’s time to quit shoveling.
How can the industry say Colorado is the most restrictive state for drilling and fracking? There’s no fracking ban here, as there is in New York, Maryland, and Vermont. The COGCC needs to implement a fracking ban here in Colorado. Fracking emits the known carcinogens benzene and toluene and releases the powerful greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere.
Garfield County Commissioners felt the 2500-foot setback called for by Prop 112 was extreme. What’s the proper setback, keeping in mind the Colorado School of Public Health recommends a half-mile?
The stipulation in SB 181 that grants more autonomy to local governments in setting drilling and fracking regulations is a boon to Denver, Broomfield, and Boulder Counties, but not so much for Garfield, Mesa, Rio Blanco, Gunnison, and Weld Counties. Their county commissioners’ idea of a good regulation is no regulation, even if it protects public health and safety.
Mr. Robbins shouldn’t waste his waste breath discussing health, safety, or the climate crisis with the Garfield County commissioners. He’d be wise to talk dollars and cents.
The director should inform the commissioners of the growing costs to Medicaid caused by the increased incidence of hospitalization for people living near drilling and fracking. Tell them about the $130 million spent last year fighting climate-caused wildfires.
Robbins needs to advise Garco’s leadership the time to soften the blow of the inevitable collapse of the fossil fuel industry is now. Continued support of this doomed endeavor serves no one.
It’s time to find other revenue sources.