Citizens for a Healthy Community Urges State to Adopt Protective Groundwater Sampling Rule

November 15, 2012

Yesterday, Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC) testified before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) on a proposed groundwater sampling and monitoring rule. CHC Director Jim Ramey spoke on behalf of CHC and Delta County residents to ask for improved safeguards from the commissioners.

Specifically, CHC asked for:

  • all water sources within ½-mile of the drilling site to be sampled;
  • the types of water sources to be expanded to include agriculture, livestock, municipal/public, and commercial wells (in addition to domestic wells and springs);
  • results of sampling to be required to be made public; and
  • a required Sampling and Analysis Plan.

CHC also asked for the rulemaking to be expanded to include the required sampling of surface water sources, because groundwater and surface water do not exist in separate vacuums.

CHC called out members of the industry who sought to detract from the rulemakings by arguing that COGCC had weak legal authority to pursue the rulemaking in the first place.

“For far too long, industry has acted like a bully in these rulemakings, categorically dismissing the need for proper regulation, threatening to pack up their operations and take their business elsewhere.” Ramey said. “However, a recent analysis of COGCC’s own records found that 43% of operator spills have caused and are continuing to cause groundwater impacts and contamination in Weld County. It would be helpful for industry to admit, once and for all, that oil and gas development causes impacts to water – water that is so crucial to Coloradans – and that proper regulation is needed.”

The COGCC is charged with ensuring the protection of public health and the environment under state law (C.R.S. 34-60-102(1)(a)(I)). We wanted to make sure this mandate was at the forefront of Commissioner’s minds when considering this proposed rule.

Separately, CHC urged the Commission to take on the much needed rulemakings on setbacks from surface water bodies and riparian areas, and to require a mandatory air quality monitoring program.

To read the full testimony click here. Citizens for a Healthy Community will continue to participate in these rulemakings going forward to make sure the voices of Delta County residents are heard in Denver.

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