Diverse Coalition Calls for COGCC’s Matt Lepore to Resign

July 25, 2013 –

Denver, Colo. – Today, a diverse group of nearly 50 businesses, farmers, consumer, grassroots and environmental organizations from across Colorado urged Governor Hickenlooper to immediately call for the resignation of Matt Lepore, Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). Citing his recent offensive comments made at an oil and gas industry-sponsored conference last week, the groups highlighted Mr. Lepore’s failure of leadership as the reason for their call for his resignation.

“As a small business owner and father of two who has experienced the damaging impacts of fracking first-hand on my health and livelihood, I am outraged that the COGCC and Mr. Lepore have failed to protect us from fracking. We are not affluent.  We’re just regular people,” said Rod Bruske of Longmont. “I challenge Governor Hickenlooper to replace Mr. Lepore with someone who will actually serve Coloradans—not the elitist oil and gas industry—so that my family can pursue the American Dream.”

Under Mr. Lepore’s supervision, the COGCC has rubber stamped hundreds of fracking permits, including an appalling proposal to place a drilling pad with 67 fracked wells in a working-class neighborhood in Greeley two months ago. Unfortunately, Mr. Lepore has done nothing to address the increased drilling that is encroaching on lower-income communities and communities of color that hold little political power to protect their own health and safety.

“It is deeply troubling that a public servant is attacking everyday Coloradans instead of doing his job to protect us from the ill-effects of fracking on our health, property values and quality of life,” said public school teacher and member of Weld Air and Water, Therese Gilbert. “We urge Governor Hickenlooper to demonstrate that he represents ordinary Coloradans, not the oil and gas industry, and call for Mr. Lepore’s immediate resignation.”

In their letter, the groups explain that his insulting comments encapsulate the failure of Mr. Lepore’s leadership while at the helm of the COGCC. With both Mr. Lepore and Governor Hickenlooper’s blessing, the agency has engaged in two lawsuits against the City of Longmont in order to force the placement of fracking wells next to homes and schools, including one lawsuit to overturn a democratic vote of the people. According to COGCC data, there have been 179 oil and gas spills reported this year alone in Colorado, with 15% of these spills contaminating groundwater.  And finally, the agency also failed to meet its statutory requirement to protect the public by inspecting wells yet lobbied against hiring more inspectors.

“Mr. Lepore launched a disparaging attack on hard-working Coloradans last week–insulting the thousands of parents, business owners, ranchers, teachers, workers, and retirees who oppose putting dangerous fracking wells next to their homes,” said Sam Schabacker, Mountain West Director for the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch and member of Protect Our Colorado. “After enjoying financial success as a lawyer serving oil and gas clients, Matt Lepore was appointed by Governor Hickenlooper to direct the COGCC.  And now, as an appointed public servant, Mr. Lepore is using his affluence and power to employ industry bullying tactics instead of fulfilling his duty to protect the people of Colorado from fracking.  This is a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house, and it has come about because of Governor Hickenlooper’s cozy relationship with the oil and gas industry. This is unacceptable.  Governor Hickenlooper must call immediately for Mr. Lepore to resign.”

The full text of the letter and the organization signatories can be found here: http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Lepore_letter.pdf

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