REPORT: CDPHE fails to protect public health, must rebuild oil & gas oversight

A new report by Earthworks reveals that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) does not fulfill its mission “to protect and improve the health of Colorado’s people” when it comes to oil and gas pollution. Putting the Public First – How CDPHE can overcome its legacy of prioritizing oil and gas industry interests ahead of public health, safety, welfare and the environment, details how CDPHE’s system for handling oil and gas complaints confuses and fails the public it is charged with protecting.

The report details Earthworks’ experience filing 65 formal complaints regarding polluting oil and gas operations in Colorado, and the effort necessary to determine what ultimately happened to those complaints. Only by filing the same complaint with multiple agencies, and by submitting a public information request (CORA) was it possible to determine:

  • CDPHE does not have a complaint tracking system even for use by its own staff
  • CDPHE does not track the final outcome of complaints
  • Of the 65 complaints filed by Earthworks:
    • 15 were ignored
    • 2 were lost by CDPHE
    • 9 are pending
    • 31 resulted in the operator being contacted with no action taken
    • 20 resulted in operations being inspected
    • 7 caused a site repair
    • 1 resulted in the assessment of a violation and penalty

Read the full report here.

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