Lawmakers Question Oil and Gas Study

March 21, 2014
Rep. Lois Landgraf was one of the lawmakers with questions about the bill.

Rep. Lois Landgraf was one of the lawmakers with questions about the bill.

DENVER – Colorado’s economy is recovering quicker from the recession years than most states in part because of oil and gas development, but some people remain wary of the fracturing process.

Fueled by green energy crusaders and big money-fueled liberal groups, community activists have campaigned to place moratoriums on oil and gas development, introduced 16 ballot initiatives to limit fracking in communities, and one to ban it statewide.

The industry was targeted again Thursday during a more than five-hour House committee hearing of House Bill 1297 sponsored by Rep. Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins), that proposed spending more than $566,000 in taxpayer money to study the health effects of oil and gas development over three years in Adams, Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties.

If enacted, the measure would kick off a so-called “scientific study” by mailing surveys written in English and Spanish to 600 households in each of the four counties. Those would be evaluated by a 13-member coalition appointed by the governor and legislative leadership.

“There are many competing claims about whether or not oil and gas operations have an impact on the health and quality of life in our local communities, especially here on the Front Range,” said Ginal.

“As a scientist, I question certain issues,” said Ginal, a pharmacology consultant and former sales rep for major pharmaceutical firms including Merck Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Ginal said that she reviewed several studies on the effects of oil and gas development in Colorado, but only two were performed in a Front Range community. She dismissed four studies in Garfield County because it’s located west of the Front Range.

“It sounds to me like you want to have it both ways,” said Rep. Lois Landgraf (R-Fountain), who questioned why Ginal distributed her bill with fracking impact reports from Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Rep. Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) said that it is disingenuous to say the studies in Colorado didn’t address health issues. The studies, he said, correlated the facts to assess potential health risks – or the lack of any risks.

McNulty questioned why Colorado taxpayers should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a study that isn’t needed and reminded Ginal that Colorado has one of the most restrictive guidelines and oversight of oil and gas development in the nation.

The only reason for another study of Colorado, he surmised, is to try to find a negative premise that does not exist in the current body of scientific studies.

“You’re assuming that I want this bill to find a health problem, that I’m trying to find some negative outcome,” Ginal responded.

“There are no assumptions. I am a scientist,” declared Ginal.

Among the dozens of people who testified for the bill was Fort Collins City Councilman Ross Cuniff, who said the study would enable the council to better evaluate oil and gas development contracts.

“We are operating in a vacuum,” said Cuniff.

Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, which advocates for more than 3,000 companies and 300,000 employees throughout Colorado, opposed the bill.

“We are opposed to a study that targets a particular industry, especially one that is such a key component in our economy,” said Charles Ward, vice president of public affairs for Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.

“In a presumptive effort to find something wrong,” Ward said, this bill unfairly singles out a specific geographical area where oil and gas development is thriving and creating jobs.

If passed, the bill’s premise is skewed, Ward said, because it will be shaped by the results of a survey that is subjective.

“It will bias the study,” said Ward. “You’re not going to hear from people who have no complaints.”

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

2 Responses to Lawmakers Question Oil and Gas Study

  1. Brian McFarlane
    March 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    “You’re assuming that I want this bill to find a health problem, that I’m trying to find some negative outcome,” Ginal responded.

    YES, exactly. Why should anyone assume that because you are a “scientist” that you have no bias? Dismissing studies from Garfield county but then using studies from other states (that maybe support a health issue?) shows a likely bias. IF this study gets funded, I am predicting that it takes longer than anticipated and will need more funds.

    The anti-fracking “community” sure seems to be… slimy. If their issue is so noble why do they continue to do things that present as disingenuous?

  2. PeterP
    March 25, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    The “Greens” will always use the slow gears of government to kill any proposal they fear. My goodness, these people fear just about everything man does. I certainly wish they had some positive ideas when it comes to modern society and how to upgrade people’s standard of living. Cheap energy floats all ships from manufacturing to affordable luxuries… like staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
    Make these fear-mongers pay for their own rigged studies. It doesn’t cost them a dime to yell at representatives of communities demanding free studies and ridiculous obstacles to a growing tax base. I know they believe they are smarter than everyone who doesn’t believe in their views, but most of these folks are just plain foolish. Not a single one of them can show how dangerous fracking is because after 60 years it has been engineered to be perfectly safe. At least that is what former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar says. Look it up.


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