The Supreme folly
January 18, 2019
On Jan. 14, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state's main regulatory agency for the industry, can't give first priority to public health, environment or climate when deciding whether to grant drilling permits.
Cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility must be taken into consideration was the bench's decision. In other words, it's money over health, safety, environment and climate — again.
The court, four of seven of whom were appointed by former oil and gas geologist and state governor John Hickenlooper, decided in favor of the government in the long-running Martinez v. COGCC case brought by a group of teenagers.
This means the industry can sicken people, rape the land and destroy the climate all they wish as long as they're bringing money into the state. I was particularly annoyed by the court's patronizing pat on the head for the youngsters like, "Nice effort, kids, but from now on, let the grown-ups foul up your futures."
Industry rep Trace Bentley from the Colorado Petroleum Council sang that same old song that out-of-state influences inspired the teenagers, just like the origin of Proposition 112 came from elsewhere. It's true, similar lawsuits have been filed in other states, but with Martinez, the plaintiffs were all from Colorado. How much you want to bet a good part of the opposition to 112 and Martinez came from Texas?
Oil and gas has been in high cotton lately. They defeated Proposition 112 in the November election with a massive ad campaign. Then, last week, Ursa Resources got the COGCC to approve the Well Pad A gas well proposal in Battlement Mesa with drilling planned as close as 800 feet to subdivisions and apartment buildings.
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This is the same supreme court that told Boulder County it couldn't enforce a fracking ban in 2016. Our new governor has said regulating oil and gas drilling should be the jurisdiction of local governments. We'll see if the governor and the new all-blue legislature has the commitment to the climate cause they say they do.
Fred Malo Jr.