To help us get a better idea of what new stronger methane rules will do and what they will mean for Colorado, we sat down with our advocate Sophia Mayott-Guerrero.

New polling validates what we’ve known for years: Coloradans value protecting public health and safety, the environment, and wildlife over profits for the oil and gas industry.

Sportsmen, veterans, recreation advocates, outdoor businesses and conservationists respond to historic legislation to protect 400,000 acres of public lands

DENVER, CO — Conservation, recreation and wildlife groups across Colorado welcomed a vote in Congress today that helped move important public lands legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives on to the U.S. Senate. The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE Act) is needed to safeguard more than 400,000 acres in the Centennial State and ensure future generations have access to the state’s wildest lands and historic areas, like Camp Hale.

Colorado Representatives Joe Neguse, Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Jason Crow joined the majority in a bipartisan 227 – 182 vote for passage. Representatives Doug Lamborn, Ken Buck and Scott Tipton voted against, despite the recently released polling indicating that strong majorities of Rep. Tipton’s constituents support the measure and strong local support from counties and towns.

As the bill moves to the U.S. Senate, it is more important than ever that Colorado’s statewide elected officials stand together and support the CORE Act. Sen. Cory Gardner, who has not yet taken a position on this important Colorado legislation, should join Sen. Michael Bennet in sponsoring the bill.

The following are quotes from a number of organizations and stakeholders who have been working for decades to advance conservation efforts in Colorado, including protections for 400,000 acres in the San Juans, Thompson Divide, Continental Divide, Curecanti, and the historic WWII training grounds at Camp Hale: 

“Coloradans love our lands and have been working for years to protect these popular, iconic and historic landscapes. Thank you to our environmental champions — Representatives Neguse, DeGette, Crow and Perlmutter — for advancing the CORE Act today. Senator Gardner should join Senator Bennet in supporting this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to safeguard nearly half a million acres of Colorado’s public lands.” — Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

“Protecting Camp Hale and the surrounding area is way to honor generations of veterans, from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom. Our public lands and the freedoms they represent define our nation, and I fought to defend that. Today I continue that fight by working to preserve Camp Hale and I hope Senator Gardner will join me and my fellow veterans.” — Bradley Noone, 10th Mountain Division Veteran.

“As a small business owner in the hunting community, I support the CORE act as a needed step in protecting our public lands in perpetuity. The next generation of hunters will have access to Wilderness Areas rich in biodiversity. This will enable a vital connection to our Colorado lands.” — Mahting Putelis, Co-Founder & CEO of Hunt to Eat

“This vote is the culmination of a decade of community dialogue and compromise. With this milestone, it’s time for the Senate to have a hearing on this bill and move it forward.” — Scott Fetchenhier, San Juan County Commissioner, Owner and Operator of Fetch’s Mining and Mercantile Company in Silverton

“We have been working to permanently protect the Thompson Divide for over a decade, and today’s vote is a significant step toward the finish line. The Thompson Divide has galvanized our community like no other issue, and we are grateful to Representative Neguse and Senator Bennet for championing this landscape that is so crucial to our economic livelihood and way of life. We hope Senator Gardner will join us and Senator Bennet to get this across the finish line in the Senate.” — Curtis Kaufman, Board President, Thompson Divide Coalition 

“Sportsmen and women celebrate the passage of the CORE Act in the U.S. House, and we thank Representative Neguse and Senator Bennet for their leadership on this bill. There’s a direct link from large swathes of land, protected from development, to healthy populations of game and fish. Wildlife and fish, in turn, attract hunters and anglers like me who help support our local economies. Now, we urge Senator Gardner to co-sponsor the CORE Act to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate.” — Craig Grother, Regional Director, Central Western Slope, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

“As an outfitter guide and storefront business owner, I couldn’t be more pleased with today’s passage of the CORE Act in the House. My guide service operates in several counties benefiting from the protection of wild landscapes and rivers in this legislation. I extend my deep appreciation to Representative Neguse and Senator Bennet and call on Senator Gardner to consider the opinion of the majority of his constituents and co-sponsor the CORE Act. The CORE Act is good for rural economies, communities, recreation, and natural resources.” — Tim Patterson, owner, RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service 

Coloradans love getting outside and getting after it on public lands. Many of us identify as outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists, and in western Colorado a majority support additional wilderness. Patagonia thanks Congressman Neguse and Senator Bennet for their leadership on this legislation and urges Senator Gardner to continue a long bipartisan tradition to support public lands in Colorado and to vote yes on the CORE Act.” — Mark Stevens, district environmental manager, Patagonia

“As a Ridgway resident for over four decades and a local rancher, I applaud the passage of the CORE Act in the House. Colorado’s public lands are essential to my family as our grazing permit is located within the Whitehouse Addition.  I rely on healthy and protected lands and waters for my business to succeed, as do my fellow ranchers who graze livestock on the Thompson Divide. In addition, both my father and uncle trained at Camp Hale as part of the storied 10th Mountain Division.  Preserving Camp Hale honors veterans and their families and protects a landscape that constitutes a piece of our country’s cultural and military history. Thank you Representative Neguse and Senator Bennet! I encourage Senator Gardner to co-sponsor the CORE Act in the Senate.” — Liza Clarke, Owner, Ferguson Family Ranches

“The CORE Act really gets at the core of Colorado values – protecting critical waterways and habitats, providing inspiring outdoor recreation opportunities like the Continental Divide Trail, and honoring the unique history of the American West. Today’s passage of the CORE Act through the House should be a proud moment for the many Coloradans who have worked to protect the Continental Divide and other invaluable landscapes for more than a decade. We are grateful for the leadership of Representative Neguse and Senator Bennet in moving the CORE Act forward, and hope to see Senator Gardner join them in this crucial effort to protect some of Colorado’s most special places. — Teresa Martinez, Executive Director, Continental Divide Trail Coalition

“Eagle County applauds the passage of the CORE Act in the House of Representatives today. This important public lands bill includes the designation of one of the County’s Crown Jewels, Camp Hale, as a National Historic Landscape. The heroism of the 10th Mountain Division troops and their contributions to the skiing world are memorialized in this Act. The CORE Act also preserves important wildlife habitat and environment in Eagle and Summit Counties. This bipartisan effort has included local input over many years and we are hopeful that this work will result in passage in the Senate as well.” — Kathy Chandler-Henry, Commissioner, Eagle County

“We are thrilled with today’s House vote in favor of the CORE Act. Local communities like Ouray County have been working to advance these protections for decades, and we couldn’t ask for a better piece of legislation. The CORE Act protects critical wildlife migration corridors and habitat, valuable watersheds, and unspoiled wild places which all benefit our rural economies. We applaud the leadership from Congressman Neguse and Senator Bennet, and we urge Senator Gardner to join Senator Bennet as a co-sponsor to pass the CORE Act in the Senate in the 116th Congress”.Robyn Cascade, Northern San Juan Chapter Leader, Great Old Broads for Wilderness

“Today the US House of Representatives affirmed what folks in western Colorado know, protecting the Thompson Divide and Continental Divide landscapes is the right thing to do. For over a decade Wilderness Workshop and local communities have advocated for the protection of these special places, most recently as part of the CORE Act. This legislation is the culmination of years of engagement, discussion and compromise among a diverse and bi-partisan set of stakeholders who have come together to work on a common goal. Now that the House has acted and listened to the voices of locals, I hope our delegation can work together, just as our communities have, to ensure that Thompson Divide and Continental Divide are permanently protected.” — Will Roush, Executive Director, Wilderness Workshop

“Members of Ridgway Ouray Community Council (ROCC) have spent endless hours over the last decade collaborating with diverse stakeholders to support the proposal for the expansion of the Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area. We are pleased and excited to have the San Juan Mountains proposal included in the CORE Act. The CORE Act recognizes the need to protect the natural resources located on our public lands while simultaneously benefiting our local economy.” — Jim Stephenson, Public Lands Chair, Ridgway-Ouray Community Council

“We’ve been waiting 40 years to complete wilderness protection of Mount Sneffels and some of the most spectacular wildlands in the San Juan Mountains. We greatly appreciate Rep. Joe Neguse’s leadership, and we await Sen. Cory Gardner finally taking up the baton to move wilderness protections in the San Juans across the finish line in the Senate.” — Mark Pearson, Executive Director, San Juan Citizens Alliance

“The CORE Act represents a diverse set of beloved and ecologically important landscapes across Colorado. Today’s House passage of the CORE Act is a huge cause for celebration for our community in Southwest Colorado, which has been working for over a decade to protect the iconic vistas of our San Juan Mountains. We are grateful for the vision and leadership of Congressman Neguse and Senator Bennet for recognizing the value of the places that we hold dear, and working to protect our health, our economy, and our future. — Lexi Tuddenham, Executive Director, Sheep Mountain Alliance

“Colorado deserves the protections afforded by the CORE Act. Thanks to Senator Bennet and Congressman Neguse for driving the bill forward. The climbing community deeply appreciates the efforts of many stakeholders and partners to protect iconic Colorado landscapes, including Camp Hale, for future generations. We are hopeful that Senator Gardner will help move the bill through the Senate.” — Erik Murdock, Policy Director, Access Fund

The CORE Act demonstrates that protected public lands are our common ground. It strengthens a growing recreation-based economy, and it protects important recreation assets and wildlife habitat for future generations. We applaud Senator Bennet and Congressman Neguse for championing this important bill, and hope today’s passage in the House of Representatives is only the beginning.” — Kirsten Blackburn, Program Manager, The Conservation Alliance 

“Coloradans love public lands and want to see more of them protected especially in the face of a changing climate and the nature crisis. Conservationists, ranchers and sportsmen around Colorado celebrate the vote by the House and turn our attention to the Senate. Senator Cory Gardner is the only Senator from Colorado in the last half-century who has not sponsored wilderness legislation. As Colorado’s only member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, it’s time for Senator Gardner to heed his constituents’ calls and work with Senator Bennet to get the CORE Act across the finish line.” — Jim Ramey, Colorado state director for The Wilderness Society. 

“Today’s vote marks a major step for the future of public lands in Colorado. Our national parks, wilderness areas and other public lands are cherished for their natural beauty, cultural heritage, and the recreational and economic benefits they bring to local communities. With local stakeholder support at the forefront of this process, the CORE Act achieves meaningful protections for these lands now and for future generations. We are thankful to Congressman Neguse for his leadership in championing this legislation and urge the Senate to take up the bill in short order.” —Tracy Coppola, Colorado Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association 

“Among the thousands of acres of precious wilderness that the CORE Act would protect is Camp Hale, an important site in U.S. and Sierra Club history. Camp Hale is where the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, including Sierra Club’s first executive director, David Brower, trained to fight Nazi Germany in the Italian Alps in World War II. As a combat veteran of the 10th Mountain myself, I know how important it is to protect this beautiful and significant land from logging and fossil fuel extraction.” –– Rob Vessels, Sierra Club Military Outdoors Campaign Manager 

“Today’s vote in favor of the CORE Act is celebrated by all who have worked tirelessly to protect the San Juan Mountain landscapes vital to the communities of Western Colorado. Local voices have crafted this legislation over the course of a decade and we appreciate the leadership of Congressman Neguse for moving the vision of the CORE Act forward. Vibrant rural economies depend upon the careful stewardship of our wildlands and we ask Senator Gardner to join Senator Bennet as a co-sponsor to pass the CORE Act in the Senate.” — Steve Allerton, President, Western Colorado Alliance

“Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship is very pleased to endorse the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act. Preservation of the wide variety of lands represented in the CORE Act shows that Conservation is truly Conservative. This was confirmed by a recent poll of Colorado’s third Congressional District that found two-thirds of voters support the designations in the CORE Act and an overwhelming 85% of Republicans surveyed said that public lands are important to the local economy.” — Steve Bonowski, Colorado-based board member, Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship

“The CORE Act represents a modern, collaborative, community-driven approach to bike-friendly public land protection and IMBA is excited with the progress this bill is making in Congress. For over a decade, IMBA has worked with local mountain bike groups and alongside many conservation and business partners to develop the diverse protections included in the bill. As a result, the CORE Act will not only preserve our public lands but will protect the treasured, high-alpine bike rides, and ensure future mountain bike trail opportunities are possible in areas managed for high quality recreation.” — Dave Wiens, Executive Director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) 

“The AAC strongly supports the CORE Act. The bill defends countless outdoor recreation opportunities, safeguards water resources, and preserves key public lands. The protections in the Act also offer the benefit of climate change mitigation through land conservation. Thank you, Senator Bennet and Congressman Neguse, for championing this important conservation measure. The climbing community is hopeful that the bill will successfully and swiftly navigate the Senate and protect important pieces of the climbing landscape.” Taylor Luneau, Policy Manager, American Alpine Club (AAC)

Joint ad pushes Sen. Gardner to stand up for Colorado’s clean air and climate, not corporate polluters

DENVER — This week, Conservation Coloradothe state’s largest environmental advocacy organizationand the grassroots organization Rocky Mountain Values launched a new television commercial that pushes Sen. Cory Gardner to support policy and funding to protect our environment and clean air. The ad comes two weeks after Senator Gardner’s recent vote that will repeal important federal progress on clean air policy and reflects the growing frustration that Colorado families have with politicians like Senator Cory Gardner, who acts in favor of special interests.

The effort is a part of Conservation Colorado’s new seven-figure accountability effort urging Senator Gardner to stand up for Coloradans who want clean air and a healthy climate, not for big corporate polluters. In addition to the new television commercial, the campaign also includes on-the-ground organizing in Aurora, Fort Collins, Greeley and Pueblo and other paid communications to educate Coloradans about Gardner’s record to get him to vote in favor of environmental protection.

“Senator Cory Gardner told us he’d protect Colorado’s clean air but went to Washington and helped dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to combat air pollution,” said Kelly Nordini, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “Colorado is at the forefront of climate impacts, and our state is a national leader in addressing the climate crisis. Unfortunately, Senator Gardner’s record shows he has been more willing to do what special interests and lobbyists in Washington want than to listen to his constituents back home. Senator Gardner must step up to change that.”

“Coloradans, like all Americans, value clean air,” said Alvina Vasquez, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Values. “Less than two weeks ago Senator Gardner took a vote to block the Clean Power Plan, which would have stopped corporate polluters from dirtying our air—proving once again that he will continue taking votes that hurt Colorado. We hoped that Senator Gardner would stand by his promise to protect our environment, but instead, he continues his pattern of broken promises and bad votes. We need Senator Gardner, and all of our elected officials, to prioritize Coloradans’ clean air now. ”

In Washington, Sen. Gardner helped dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to combat air pollution, allowing power plants to burn coal waste without complying with clean air rules. And while Coloradans’ health suffered as a result, Sen. Gardner raked in the cash—including more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. That investment continues to pay dividends for big corporate polluters. And just this month, Sen. Gardner voted to allow Trump’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan to move forward, paving the way for coal plants to stay open longer and blocking progress for wind and solar power—energy sources that Coloradans overwhelmingly support.

“Frontline communities can’t write big checks like big polluters, but we can organize,” said Juan Gallegos, director of Protégete. “Latinx Coloradans deserve a seat at the table and for Senator Gardner to listen to us, vote with us, and put Colorado on a path to a clean energy future.”

We took to the streets to answer this question and see what else Coloradans know — or ought to know — about methane.

Today, Conservation Colorado released its 2019 Conservation Scorecard, an annual look at how every state legislator voted on key environmental bills during the recent legislative session. The scorecard provides Coloradans with the information they need to ensure their elected officials reflect Coloradans’ values, including protections for our air, land, water, and communities.

“Colorado’s 2019 legislative session was historic by any measure,” said Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “From climate action and clean energy to oil and gas reforms to protecting our lands, water, and wildlife, this year’s scorecard provides an accounting of who helped and hindered Colorado’s progress.”

Here are top-line results from the Scorecard:

Key votes scored include:

  • Colorado’s Climate Action Plan (HB1261)
  • Comprehensive Oil and Gas Reform (SB181)
  • EV Utility and Tax Credits (HB1159 and SB77)
  • Hard-Rock Mining Reform (HB1113)
  • Conservation Easement Improvements (HB1264)
  • Promoting a Just Transition (HB1314)

Senate

  • 18 Senators had a perfect score.
  • The lowest scores were Senators Chris Holbert, Vicki Marble, and Jim Smallwood at 0 percent each.

House

  • 36 members had a perfect score.
  • The lowest scores were Representatives Mark Baisley, Susan Beckman, Perry Buck, Tim Geitner, Stephen Humphrey, Kimmi Lewis, Lori Saine, Shane Sandridge, and Dave Williams at 0 percent each.

Nordini continued: “This year, the Colorado legislature passed commonsense policies that were years in the making. At a time when the stakes could not be higher, Colorado’s new elected leaders produced results that will protect our state for years to come.”

DENVER — Today, Governor Jared Polis signed SB 19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations. The new law will protect public health and safety when it comes to oil and gas development.

Conservation groups responded to the bill’s passage with the following statements:

“Today marks a new chapter in Colorado’s history. For the first time ever, our state is on track to put the health and safety of workers and residents, and our environment ahead of oil and gas industry profits. This policy is nearly a decade in the making, and we applaud our elected leaders who fought for so long to make it a reality.” — Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

“Coloradans now finally have a voice when it comes to oil and gas development in our state. We thank Governor Polis, Senator Steve Fenberg, Speaker KC Becker and our leaders in the Colorado legislature for listening to the urgent calls from Coloradans who are ready for change. The policy changes in Senate Bill 181 will help to make our communities healthier and safer.” — Jim Alexee, Director, Colorado Sierra Club

“SB 19-181 is a victory for the people of Colorado. By signing this bill, Gov. Jared Polis will expand Colorado’s leadership on methane and curb emissions of this dangerous greenhouse gas, while also helping prevent catastrophic well explosions that threaten our communities. As the Trump administration continues its assault on federal methane protections, it is more important than ever that Colorado respond by boldly cutting methane and fighting climate change.” — Matthew Garrington, State Campaigns Manager, Energy Program, Environmental Defense Fund

“There has never been any Colorado legislation as comprehensive and impactful as SB 19-181. The people beset by the callous onslaught of oil and gas development now have a state government that is prioritizing their interests over the industry’s. This is long overdue and much appreciated.” — Josh Joswick, Issues Analyst/Community Organizer, Oil and Gas Accountability Project

“We thank Governor Polis and the Legislature for modernizing our laws to allow the experts in our state and local governments to make decisions that protect public health and the environment from the dangerous impacts of oil and gas development.” — Joel Minor, Attorney, Earthjustice

“This oil & gas bill signals that Governor Polis and the legislature are putting public health over polluter interests in the state.”  Sam Gilchrist, Western Campaigns Director, NRDC

“Finally, after all these years we have a bill that will protect health and safety in the gas lands. Residents of Garfield County thank Governor Polis for making this long-awaited bill law. However, we must ensure the intent of the law is upheld through the rule-making process.” — Leslie Robinson, Member, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance

“Members of Battlement Concerned Citizens (BCC) and residents of Battlement Mesa are pleased to see the adoption of SB 19-181 and the prioritizing of public health and safety over corporate profits. We appreciate the hard work and determination of the Colorado legislators and Governor Polist that made this possible. We are looking forward to a new era of cooperation with the oil and gas industry to develop our valuable natural resources in a way that prioritizes public health and safety.” — Dave Devanney, Member, Battlement Concerned Citizens

 

Industry groups spent heavily on misleading advertising against SB 19-181. Analysis conducted by Westword’s Chase Woodruff as the bill moved from the Senate to the House showed that “the fossil-fuel industry [outspent] proponents of SB 181 by more than a 15-to-1 margin.” That spending included included TV advertising that was labeled “misleading” by the Colorado Sun and, at various points, “full of overstatements” and not “not accurate at all” by 9 News’ Kyle Clark.

SB 19-181 will:

  • Refocus the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize health, safety and the environment over industry profits;
  • Empower local governments to have a stronger say by clarifying basic powers such as zoning and noise limitations and allowing local oversight and enforcement of operations;
  • Direct air quality experts to consider rules to greatly reduce harmful emissions including methane, a dense greenhouse gas;
  • Better protects property owners from forced pooling;
  • Combat the growing problem of orphaned wells by setting forth a rule making around financial assurances and bonding requirements for oil and gas permits; and,
  • Create a professional, paid commission that can better address the litany of permits, rulemaking and oversight the commission must handle.

DENVER— Today, SB 19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations, passed the Colorado State Senate on a 19-15 vote.

The bill will:

  • Refocus the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize health safety and the environment over industry profits;
  • Empower local governments to have a stronger say by clarifying basic powers such as zoning and noise limitations and allowing local oversight and enforcement of operations;
  • Addresses the growing climate, air, water, and wildlife impacts of oil and gas development across the state including increasing regulations for methane, a dangerous air pollutant that is a significant contributor to climate change;
  • Better protect property owners from forced pooling; and,
  • Combat the growing problem of orphaned wells by setting forth a rule making around financial assurances and bonding requirements for oil and gas permits.

 

Conservation and community groups responded to the bill’s Senate passage with the following statements.

“Thank you to the Colorado State Senate for acting decisively to prioritize Colorado’s air, water, and residents over oil and gas industry profits. This bill is nearly a decade in the making. We urge the House to act swiftly, pass these common-sense reforms, and send them to Governor Polis to sign so we can put Coloradans’ health and safety first.”

— Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

 

“This is a transformational step forward for a common sense, balanced approach to fracking in Colorado. We applaud leaders in the state Senate, and local officials across Colorado, for their bravery in the face of corporate special interests.”

— Jim Alexee, Director, Colorado Sierra Club

 

“We are thankful to the state Senate for their leadership and for taking the time to bill thoughtful legislation that truly puts the health and safety of Colorado communities first. It is past time that we make health and safety the priority of the state when if comes to Big Oil and neighborhood drilling.”

—  Sara Loflin, Executive Director, League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans

 

“The state Senate is showing real national leadership, showing other states how to protect communities from the public health and safety impacts of oil and gas extraction. The House should follow suit quickly.”

—  Sam Gilchrist, Western Campaigns Director, NRDC

 

“Western Coloradans cheer the passage of SB 181 out of the state Senate as a long overdue step to protect the public health and safety of residents living with the impacts of oil and gas.”

—  Emily Hornback, Director, Western Colorado Alliance

For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 28, 2019

Contact:

  • Garrett Garner-Wells, Communications Director, Conservation Colorado, 303-605-3483
  • Emily Gedeon, Conservation Program Director, Sierra Club, 720-308-6055

DENVER — Today, Governor Jared Polis, House Speaker KC Becker, and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg announced a bill to ensure health, safety and the environment come first in our oil and gas regulatory system.

The bill will:

  • Refocus the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize health safety and the environment over industry profits;
  • Empower local governments to have a stronger say by clarifying basic powers such as zoning and noise limitations and allowing local oversight and enforcement of operations;
  • Better protect property owners from forced pooling; and,
  • Combat the growing problem of orphaned wells by setting forth a rulemaking around financial assurances and bonding requirements for oil and gas permits.

Over the last decade, Colorado’s oil and gas industry has stood in the way of numerous reforms. They blocked efforts to protect health and safety and spent millions on politics and public relations. At the same time, the industry has cut corners on public health and safety, brazenly sited industrial oil and gas operations in residential neighborhoods, and ignored their obligation to develop and maintain a social license to operate. These actions have resulted in a backlog of overdue reforms that this bill seeks to correct.

Conservation groups responded to the bill’s release with the following statements.

“Coloradans have a right to expect that their health and our clean air and water come first — this is Colorado after all. But our current laws governing the oil and gas industry have not kept pace with industrial processes that are ever closer to our neighborhoods, leaving them to bear the consequences. We must reform Colorado’s broken oil and gas system so that our health, safety and environment are not a question but a top priority for state regulators.”

  • Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

“The lack of modern, common sense protections from fracking for oil and gas in Colorado has endangered the health of our children, and put our first responders in harm’s way. It’s time for change. It’s time for Colorado’s leaders to put the health and safety of Coloradans before the profits of oil and gas companies.”

  • Jim Alexee, Director, Colorado Sierra Club

“As a resident of Battlement Mesa, I have come to understand that the COGCC usually behaves as a partner with the oil and gas industry rather than an advocate for protecting the health and safety of Colorado citizens. Their mission to ‘foster’ oil and gas development leaves citizens at serious risks with little or no recourse when major industrial operations move into our communities. NOW is certainly the time for change at the COGCC!”

  • Dave Devanney, member, Western Colorado Alliance

“It is time for leadership, and it is time for meaningful action to put health and safety first when it comes oil and gas. Big oil has become increasingly brazen over the last few years in running roughshod over Colorado communities – forcing massive industrial operations in the midst of homes and schools and forcibly taking the minerals of tens of thousands of private Coloradans. It is time that our legislature act, and put the health, safety, and property rights of our communities first.

  • Sara Loflin, Executive Director, League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans

Written by Audrey Wheeler

Here in Colorado, the oil and gas industry has had too much influence for too long while our communities and environment suffer.

Over the last decade, communities across the state have found themselves with no power to stand up to the industry when drilling comes to their neighborhoods. The very agency that is supposed to regulate the industry also has a dual mission to “foster” industry growth. And hundreds of oil and other toxic spills related to drilling occur in Colorado every year.

At the same time, the oil and gas industry has cut corners when it comes to Coloradans’ health and safety. They’ve built industrial operations in residential neighborhoods, ignoring community complaints even during the most egregious examples, such as in Battlement Mesa, with a pad 350 feet from homes. Companies have spent tens of millions on public campaigns and elections. As a result, nearly every commonsense policy to keep the industry in check has failed.

But with new leadership in the governor’s office and the state legislature, we have the chance to make a change.

A bill announced today by Governor Polis, Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, and House Speaker KC Becker would protect public health and safety, give more power to local governments, and enact new protections for our environment. We’re overdue for reforms like this to our state laws.

Here are 10 reasons why these reforms are urgent for Colorado:

Oil and gas operations pose a threat to our health and safety.


  1. Our state has had at least 116 fires and explosions at oil and gas operations from 2006 to 2015.
  2. After the deadly explosion in Firestone that killed two people, former employees of Anadarko accused the company of sacrificing safety to boost profits. In court documents, they claimed company culture was cavalier with regard to public safety and oversight.
  3. Coloradans who live close to oil and gas operations face health risks including cancer, birth defects, and asthma.

Colorado’s current oil and gas regulations are too weak to protect our communities, workers, and environment.


  1. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has a nearly uninterrupted, 68-year history of failing to deny permits for oil and gas companies to drill—regardless of the risks that wells pose to health, safety, and the environment.
  2. Fifty-one oil and gas workers were killed on the job in Colorado between 2003 and 2014. Several more have been killed since then.

The industry has blocked commonsense reforms time and time again.


  1. Oil and gas companies have a successful history of defeating regulations: only four of twenty-five bills that would have protected health and safety were passed by the state legislature since 2013.
  2. In 2018 alone, the oil and gas industry opposed six bills aimed at increasing protections for communities and the environment, including those to put oil and gas rigs further away from school playgrounds, improve accident reporting, and facilitate mapping of underground pipelines that run near homes—a direct response to the tragedy in Firestone.

And they spend millions to influence the public and legislators at every step of the political process.


  1. Oil and gas companies invest heavily in defeating citizen efforts to improve our state laws or implementing those that help their bottom line. In 2018, they spent $37.3 million to defeat Proposition 112, a ballot initiative for larger setbacks for oil and gas development, and advance Amendment 74, an effort to guarantee company profits in the state constitution.
  1. The industry donates big money to elections, both traceable and dark money. In the 2018 election cycle, oil and gas interests gave close to $1 million to just one electoral committee, the Senate Majority Fund (known as the “campaign arm for Republican senators” in Colorado).
  2. Oil and gas interests paid at least $200,000 on lobbying to sway decision-makers at the Capitol in 2018.

This story isn’t about one irresponsible company, but about a well-funded campaign to maximize profits over public safety and stop at nothing to get there. It’s past time we adopted common-sense rules that make the industry a better actor in Colorado — and we need to seize that chance.