The Rest of the COGCC: In Their Own Words
Representation: Executive Director of Department of Natural Resources (ex-officio voting member)
Resident County: Denver
Ex officio = member of a body who is part of that body by virtue of holding another office.
Lawyer, lives in Denver—his children do not live near oil and gas operations.
Was Assistant Director for Energy and Minerals and Federal Lands Coordinator. Before joining DNR, he practiced natural resources law in the areas of energy development, public lands management, and mining.
In regard to the Supreme Court ruling against local communities: "The important thing to note is that these lawsuits concern bans and moratoria on oil and gas drilling in local jurisdictions. Those really are a minority position taken by local government in the state. I think it's far more common if you look up and down the Front Range to see communities working with oil and gas operators." YES, THAT’S BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE.
"I'm really, really proud of what we've done here within the department and the administration with regard to energy development and our regulatory framework. My desire would be for us to continue to enable an important economic driver in the state while also ensuring that our air and water and communities are protected."
“I think Colorado benefits from a consistent set of regulations statewide, and I am proud of COGCC's regulatory program. I think it is protective of the environment, responsive to concerns, and workable for an important industry in this state. My hope is that we can begin to focus more on the areas where things are working well – operators' agreements with local governments, for example, and innovations in technology that can reduce impacts like noise or odors. I think the acrimony around oil and gas is less widespread than folks might be led to believe, and the more common (but less exciting) story is that these issues are often worked out amicably.” NO, THEY ARE NOT. THERE IS NO AMICABLE WORKING-OUT WHEN ONE SIDE HAS MONEY AND THE POWER OF THE STATE BEHIND IT AND THE OTHER SIDE CAN’T SAY NO.
Larry Wolk, MD, MSPH
Representation: Executive Director of Department of Public Health and Environment (ex-officio voting member)
Resident County: Denver
A practicing physician, founder and executive director of Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, President and Chief Operating Officer at Correctional Healthcare Companies, Senior Medical Director for both Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Colorado and Prudential Healthcare of Colorado, regional and national roles at CIGNA HealthCare. One of his many honors: Colorado Pediatrician of the Year.
Named to a (Trump/Pruitt) EPA Advisory Board; the headline
EPA unveils new industry-friendlier science advisory boards
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially unveiled new membership rosters today for several key science advisory panels that give more weight to representatives of industry and state governments at the expense of university researchers…Also new to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which advises EPA during periodic reviews of the air quality standards for ozone and other major pollutants, are…Larry Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.”
“I aim to ensure the public’s access to the best possible health and the best possible environment. I act as an advocate for that, both with the governor and for the governor, as well as for the department when it comes to making sure that we have a lens on health equity and environmental justice [proposed wells next to Bella Romero elementary school] and making sure that everyone has access to the best health and environment as possible.”
This question of exposure is much more relevant than the actual fracking process itself or the oil and gas processes themselves. It’s just like if you were talking about cigarette smoke, paint thinner, dry-cleaning, what have you. Nobody would argue that these substances aren’t toxic, nobody would argue that they aren’t bad; they are toxic, and there’s all kinds of work in science that says concentrated benzene exposure can lead to all kinds of health effects, cancer effects. But what levels of exposure are you talking about at certain safe distances, protective distances, if you will?” CAST DOUBT—THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY PLAYBOOK
“I think people often invoke public health or health concerns when we don’t necessarily have evidence that there is a valid health issue. There are certainly other issues that are valid as to why people don’t want these things near them: They don’t like the noise, they don’t like the smell, they don’t like the traffic, they don’t like the appearance. I’m not invalidating those, at all — I certainly wouldn’t like to live in a neighborhood near those, either — but I can’t, in my role, allow that to be a substitute for saying that this is bad for public health. We don’t have any demonstrative evidence that increasing the setbacks from oil and gas development would be any more protective of the public’s health than where the current setbacks are, because we don’t have any evidence that there is a public health impact as a result of the current setbacks. ALSO RIGHT OUT OF THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY PLAYBOOK
“We don’t have any evidence that 500 feet is the wrong number. It might be the wrong number as it relates to noise, or to ‘I don’t like seeing it,’ or as it relates to truck traffic, but those aren’t really health issues. We have evidence that being five feet from an active well 24/7 is not good. With that kind of exposure, we see irritation and the potential to inhale directly benzenes and things that cause chronic diseases and cancer. So trying to find that right number [for a setback distance] is I think the right thing to do, but we just don’t have any credible evidence that 500 feet or 1,000 feet is not enough, that increased setbacks would be any more protective of public health than the current setbacks.” DITTO
“I think our governor does a good job of balancing between environmental health and oil and gas development.”
Director of the COGCC; lives in Denver
Lawyer with experience in environmental and natural resources law and policy; counsel to the COGCC from 2009 to 2011 during his tenure with the Colorado Attorney General’s office. In 2011, he joined the oil and gas law firm Beatty and Wozniak, the same firm that represents COGA to harass local communities like Lafayette.
Appointed by Hickenlooper in 2012 following the resignation of his predecessor David Neslin. REVOLVING DOOR ALERT. Neslin left to join a Denver law firm specializing in energy law. Lepore will enter the same revolving door eventually. That’s how it works.
On the anti-fracking movement: “I'm not convinced [the movement] is simply a matter of education. There is an anti-fracking contingency and at the core of it is an anti-fossil fuel contingency. No amount of education will change that.”
On the Martinez case: “What’s missing from all of that argument is our belief that we ARE protecting public health, safety and welfare.” TOBACCO INDUSTRY PLAYBOOK
At a legislative hearing: “I’ll respond to the first criticism that local governments have no leverage….And yet, I have seen local governments negotiate extensive MOUs. Arapahoe County did so, Broomfield did so, Erie has done so. These are MOUs that solve local concerns, specific local concerns. They can be tailored anyway they want. It has been a successful tool.” SUCCESSFUL FOR WHO?
After Firestone: Activists Say You Have Blood on Your Hands
“What has taken place here is highly unusual and required a confluence of several different events that came to pass. This is an unprecedented event. It’s horrible. We will take the steps outlined here to seek to minimize this from happening again. And I think operators will be hyper-vigilant about going forward.”
“Listening to them [the commissioners] as they go through all the information is like watching a jury deliberate. I'm both amazed and impressed that they always get to the right answer.”
The rich-and-clueless quote from 2013: “If you look at the demographics of anti-fracking activists… they are generally affluent enough not to be concerned with the cost of home heating and cooling...”
Lepore speaks frequently on Colorado’s progressive oil and gas regulatory regime, particularly as it relates to unconventional development. He has traveled to Indonesia, Chile, and Argentina at the request of the U.S. State Department [Hillary Clinton?] to speak about unconventional resource development.
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