Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 7, 20175min510
Sen. Matt Jones of Louisville said Wednesday he plans to introduce a bill in the next session to give local governments more authority to “plan, zone, and refuse to allow oil and gas operations as they see fit — just as they do with every other industry.” Though Jones is the Senate Democrats’ appointed leader […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 7, 20174min332
Oil and natural gas companies that do business in Colorado are investing in a lot more then drilling, pumping, support services and politics. Members of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association have donated about $10 million, and climbing, to the American Red Cross for relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. “Houston, in many […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 29, 20174min564
Chris Hansen

Colorado’s Front Range stands at the brink of being bumped from “moderate” to “serious” nonattainment of the 75 parts per billion ozone standard issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2008.

If Metro Denver and the northern Front Range do not meet the standard this summer, the bump-up to “serious” nonattainment could have significant impacts not only on our health but also on our economy. Imagine the disruption if air quality regulators had to take steps to control more sources of emissions, with rigorous reporting and monitoring requirements. Not only would Colorado be a less attractive place to live, it would quickly become a less attractive place to do business.

Only a third of Colorado’s ozone precursor emissions are produced by Coloradans. The rest comes from naturally occurring background sources, other states and even other countries.

Cole Wist

But we are confident that by working together across all fronts, Colorado can take the action needed to address this situation and reduce our local footprint while still protecting our economy and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. Our major industries and companies have made significant strides to reduce their emissions, and they are committing to future action. Now it is important that we as individual citizens do our part.

We urge you to check out the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s “Clear the Air” program at and the Regional Air Quality Council’s “Simple Steps, Better Air” campaign at to learn more about what we can all do to help get Colorado into compliance and moving toward cleaner air. Some steps are as easy as signing up to receive notifications on ozone alert days so you know when not to mow your lawn.

Thank you to the RAQC and to COGA for encouraging us to do our share and for making it easy to know what steps to take.


Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 22, 20174min388

While ozone levels are falling in north metro Denver, both sides of the oil-and-gas development debate are taking a deep breath to explain why.

State regulators report that emissions of volatile organic compounds, a key ingredient in ground-level ozone, have fallen by one-half in metro Denver and the northern Front Range, the battlefield over fracking.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry group, reports that meanwhile production statewide quadrupled during the six-year period.

The industry, its association said, has reduced emissions and mitigated effects “as part of its ongoing commitment to being good stewards of our natural resources and protecting the environment.”

The falling numbers prove regulations are working and more can be done, said Dan Grossman, the Environmental Defense Fund’s Rocky Mountain regional director and senior director of EDF’s state programs on oil and gas.

“Colorado’s oil and gas industry is responsible for the emission of hundreds of thousands of tons of ozone-precursor VOCs and climate-disrupting methane each year,” he told Colorado Politics. “And as the state looks to comply with the more stringent 2015 ozone standard of 70 ppb, and to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels.

Grossman added, “Simple, cost-effective measures (such as increased inspection requirements for smaller wells and replacing leaky pneumatic devices with more efficient ones) are readily available to industry to further reduce pollution from the state’s oil and gas facilities. It is past time to implement them.”

Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the reductions can be attributed to “technological innovation, regulatory initiatives currently on the books and leadership from our industry.”

COGA pointed out that the West’s “background” ozone levels, those that occur naturally without a human-related cause, are the highest in the United States.

“Consequently, addressing ozone related challenges in Colorado is an extremely difficult, economy-wide undertaking, as only 20 to 30 percent of the emissions needed to form ozone in the non-attainment area are actually produced by Colorado-based human activity,” COGA said in a statement. “These activities include but are not limited to cars, boats, planes, tractors, as well as industrial plants, lawn and garden equipment, and even household products like paints, solvents, and hair spray.”

The announcement was part of the industry’s “Clear the Air: The Facts on CEO” campaign. The CEO stands for climate, energy and ozone.

The industry has invested heavily in research and public outreach to convince Coloradans not to impose new rules that could drive the business out of the state.

“This summer’s ozone season is not over yet, and there is a lot Coloradans can do to mitigate ground-level ozone and reduce the number of ozone-exceedance days,” Haley said in a satement. “COGA will continue sharing the facts and working with members of industry to support ongoing efforts to reduce emissions in the nonattainment area.”


Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 7, 201720min510
A Colorado-sized political fight is collecting heat just below the surface of a non-election year summer. In next year’s governor’s race, money could be spent like it’s never been spent before if the flash point issue is energy. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis is a candidate striking matches. The best-known (and likely to be the best-financed) […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 24, 20174min429

Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy CommitteeLiberal journalist extraordinaire David Sirota did what he told Colorado Politics he would do back in May. He got his eyeballs on Colorado Senate Republicans’ e-mails from a period when a bill to move oil and gas wells farther from schools was pending in the legislature.

You can bet Dave would raise a left-slanted eyeball. He published his findings Friday in the International Business Times.

But he didn’t find any bombshells. Just both sides pleading their case.

From the article:

While the emails, which were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests filed by IBT, show no sign of illegal activity or quid pro quo dealings between lobbyists and lawmakers, they do reveal the asymmetrical war fought between the fossil fuel lobby and ordinary citizens who work and live near their facilities, many of whom wrote their representatives to assert that they weren’t anti-fracking, but simply worried about their own or their children’s health. Some pleaded with their representatives for help, only to receive a form letter, or nothing at all.

He cites an example letter from a Greeley school teacher to Sen. John Cooke, a Republican from Greeley who is a member of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. The committee killed Democratic Rep. Mike Foote’s House Bill 1256 on a party-line vote on April 12. The teacher wrote she was begging for Cooke’s support.

“We should not be risking the health and safety of children without an attempt to at least provide the minimum of support of a 1000 foot setback from where they are playing and breathing. Protecting the health and safety of children should not be a partisan issue — we all care about protecting the most vulnerable, and as a former Weld County Sheriff, I’m sure you understand.”

Sirota also found an e-mail to Cooke from Brent Backes, an executive with DCP Midstream, a petroleum services company based in Denver, as well as an executive board member of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

“DCP has a lot of new development activity in Weld County that I would like to make sure you are aware of as well as having a general discussion of the issues facing our industry,” Backes wrote. “I would be happy to come to the Capitol as our headquarters are located just a few blocks away.”

Sirota found that Cooke RSVP’d to a COGA seminar later, but it’s hard to say if Cooke responded to the e-mails, Sirota wrote.

In the scheme of things, that’s not unusual. Legislators from both parties attend all kinds of events put on by special-interests groups, from industry to philanthropy. Associations associate with policymakers because that’s how the public sausage is ground. Legislators say they learn about the issues from the “stakeholders,” even if you prefer to call that influence.

Editor’s note: This story corrected that Sen. John Cooke is a member of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, not the chairman. The chair is Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling.

Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 5, 20176min429

North metro Denver Democrats introduced a bill in the Colorado House Friday to create maps of where underground oil-and-gas pipelines are located. Industry representative said that work is already under way, however.

Yes and no. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is working in what’s called a “notice to operators” process. But the kinds of documents and data points policymakers use and those local residents can understand are very different.

Reps. Mike Foote of Lafayette and Steve Lebsock of Thornton, the sponsors of the bill, made that case to the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Commission.

“Data doesn’t do any good if it’s somewhere where the public can’t get it,” Lebsock said.

Foote said it’s the legislature’s responsibility to make sure the commission provides transparency.

“We as a legislature need to step up and give some direction to the agency,” Foote said. “We do that all the time.”

House Bill 1372 would require oil-and-gas operators to provide the maps it has about its underground operations to the commission. The commission would build a database to show homebuyers or residents, along with local land planners, were lines are located.

It was inspired by the double fatal explosion as the result of line near a home in Firestone on April 17.

The legislation becoming law, however, is a long shot. For one, the legislature adjourns next Wednesday, and House Bill 1372 still has to pass at least six more votes — the House Appropriations Committee, two votes on the House floor, at least one committee vote in a Senate committee and then two more on the House floor.

That assumes oil-and-gas-friendly Senate Republicans won’t kill the pipelines bill in committee. They will. But even if they didn’t, the bill still would have to pass the upper chamber without any amendments, which is unlikely. Just one amendment would mean the House and Senate would have to negotiate a compromise then both chambers would have to pass it by midnight Wednesday.

The bill passed its first committee on a party-line vote Friday.

All that could possibly happen, but it also could possibly snow in Denver in mid-July, but it hasn’t happened since 1872.

“The timeline is very challenging,” Foote said after introducing the bill Friday morning. “But there’s really no way around it. We’re done on May 10, and we only found out on Tuesday what the problem was with Firestone.

“We’ve had constituents all around the Front Range area contacting all of us about their concerns with this problem, so we wanted to do what we could.”

As always with energy, House Bill 1372 is politically divisive. Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, said she won’t support it. The explosion was in her district. She told the Denver Post Democrats were trying to grandstand on a tragedy.

“My daughter goes to school within 1,000 feet of where the explosion occurred,” Saine told the Post’s Christopher N. Osher. “And I think she’s safe. This is an isolated incident. It had some human error. Doing this in the last four days of session without checking with anyone in the community is just politicizing a tragedy.”

Senate Republicans punted a Foote bill this session to move oil and gas operations back to 1,000 from a campus property line, instead of 1,000 feet from the main school building.

Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, a trade group, said operators want to do the right thing and he expressed sympathy for the families of those killed injured in the explosion.

He and Tracee Bentley, executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, said they would prefer to work on the maps for the pipelines with the state Oil and Gas Commission rather than a piece of legislation they had not seen before Friday morning.

“We just started talking about this bill this morning,” Haley said. “We don’t have any malice toward this bill, or the sponsors, we’re just trying to work through this process in the best possible way.”

4Adams GOP.jpg

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 1, 20173min399

Just last Friday we noted here that incendiary anti-fracking activist Andrew O’Connor of Lafayette was “poised to mount a petition drive for what could be the next big ballot battle with the oil and gas industry.” His proposal: doubling Colorado’s severance tax on oil and gas production. Not a fan of the industry, that O’Connor.

You’ll recall he also was the guy who had made headlines (and drove page clicks) with his endorsement of violence against fracking operations, as enunciated in a letter to the editor of the Boulder Daily Camera. He told us in a follow-up chat, “I wouldn’t have a problem with a sniper shooting one of the workers” at a fracking site.

But as it turned out, by later the same Friday, a lot had changed: O’Connor still abhorred fracking, to be sure — but his ballot proposal was dead.

Although as we initially reported, the proposal’s ballot title had been set April 19 by the state’s title setting board — allowing O’Connor to begin petitioning the proposal onto the statewide ballot — a motion for a reconsideration was filed last Wednesday by attorneys for Chad Vorthmann (he’s executive V.P. of the Colorado Farm Bureau).  His motion contended among other things that O’Connor had made changes to the draft of his proposal after the public comment and review period, but he failed to indicate what those changes were. That left the title board in the dark.

The board agreed and on Friday reversed its previous decision, nixing the proposal. It ruled that without clear direction on what changes were made, the board lacked jurisdiction to approve the proposal.

Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Dan Haley, not surprisingly, said it was all for the best:

This was a poorly structured ballot initiative from the beginning and the title board’s 3-0 ruling clearly showed its flaws. The entire state benefits from the current severance tax structure, which has provided a stable mechanism that has served us well for decades.

But will the outspoken O’Connor drop from the scene as quickly as his ballot proposal? We’ll guess he’s going to stick around a while.



John TomasicJohn TomasicMarch 17, 20175min533

"Yeah, it seems like they don't like it that much," said state Rep. Mike Foote on Thursday. He was talking about the oil and gas industry's view of his new drilling setback bill. Foote's <a href="" target="_blank">House Bill 1256</a> would clarify that the minimum 1,000-foot distance separating schools from new oil and gas wells must be measured from the school property line, not from the school building. Foote, a Democrat from Lafayette and a Boulder County deputy district attorney, has taken up the issue of suburban drilling on the northern Front Range repeatedly at the Legislature, only to run into stiff resistance from the industry and Republican lawmakers. He said he has been in preliminary communication with the industry about his bill.