October 17, 2019

Fenberg Plans to Introduce Legislation for an Epidemiological Study, Increased Air Quality Monitoring

Denver, CO – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) today released the state-funded “Human Health Risk Assessment of Oil & Gas Operations in Colorado” that shows a possibility of negative health impacts from chemicals used in oil and gas development at distances up to 2000 feet. In response, Majority Leader Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) released the following statement and announced his plans to introduce legislation to address negative health implications of oil and gas development.

“This study shows us that the oil and gas reforms the legislature enacted last session were the right thing to do in order to protect health, safety, and the environment for Coloradans,” said Majority Leader Fenberg. “I am proud of the significant strides we made to protect the health and safety of Coloradans last session, but I recognize that there is always more work to be done and am committed to continuing the work.”

Majority Leader Fenberg has been working on additional legislation for the 2020 legislative session that would require an epidemiological study to collect data from across Colorado to evaluate how oil and gas development affects human health.

“This new CDPHE study is valuable, but what we really need is a comprehensive epidemiological study that looks at real health impacts on real people who live near oil and gas wells,” said Majority Leader Fenberg.

While SB19-181 requires continuous air monitoring at oil and gas wells, that rulemaking is still underway and not yet fully implemented. Fenberg is also considering introducing legislation next year to increase regional air monitoring to better understand the overall impact of oil and gas development on Colorado’s air quality.

Due to the clear need for aggressive and immediate action in response to the study, Majority Leader Fenberg also called for the following:

  • The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and CDPHE should immediately deploy increased real-time air monitoring near all existing wells that are near people, especially sites that are within 2,000 feet of homes. When there are high levels of harmful emissions and chemicals identified, aggressive mitigation measures need to be put in place immediately.
  • The COGCC should delay final decisions on pending permits that fall within 2,000 feet of where people live, until rulemaking from SB19-181 is complete.
  • The CDPHE should immediately review emissions standards for the chemicals identified to cause human health risks.
  • Support legislation to conduct a comprehensive epidemiological study of health impacts of people living near oil and gas wells.
  • Support legislation to dramatically increase air monitoring along the northern front range and other areas impacted by oil and gas emissions, with input and advising from the broader scientific community.

Majority Leader Fenberg sponsored SB19-181 earlier this year, the most significant and meaningful reform to oil and gas regulations in more than 60 years. The landmark legislation requires continuous air monitoring at oil and gas wells, changes the mission of the COGCC to ensure the protection of health and safety, reformed forced pooling laws, requires the minimization of emissions from wells, and also provided local control for cities and counties that wish to enact stricter health and safety measures than the state minimums. Some of these measures were enacted immediately and others are still in the rulemaking process and not yet fully implemented.
For more information about SB19-181, please visit https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-181.