January 4, 2019
Dear Governor-elect Polis,
Congratulations on your impending inauguration as Governor of Colorado. We look forward to your governorship and a new chapter in the history of Colorado. We hope this chapter will be more progressive, inclusive, and diverse than ever before.
As Executive Director of Colorado Rising, it is my responsibility to express the very serious concerns of over one million Coloradans. As you are aware, climate change is threatening our existence. It is the one threat that experts acknowledge will upend our economy and our way of life. As the only species capable of addressing this threat – a threat we created – Colorado Rising must demand that your administration take bold action to protect our precious communities and future generations from the onslaught of oil and gas activities contributing to devastating impacts of climate change.
As you are aware, Colorado Rising led the charge for Proposition 112. We led this campaign because fossil fuel encroachment into suburban areas is having a devastating effect on the health, safety, and welfare of our communities and environment. Proposition 112 garnered over 1.1 million votes despite being opposed by a $40 million propaganda campaign from the fossil fuel industry. Every elected official would be wise to seriously consider the substantial number of Coloradans concerned about the impacts of oil and gas extraction in our communities. Rates of asthma across the Front Range are increasing and everyday industrial megapads infiltrate our neighborhoods and schools.
Currently there are over 6,200 drilling permits pending approval by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which is about three times the number of permits as compared to this time last year. Already, over 1,400 drilling permits were approved in November and December 2018 alone, and most of the new permits are in residential and urban areas. Oil and gas is on a collision course with eight of the ten fastest growing towns and cities in Colorado and two of the fastest growing counties.
For example, Commerce City is facing over 300 permits that would leave every single neighborhood fracked. Boulder County’s Open Space is threatened with 110 wells, despite a lawsuit challenging the legality of these permits. These are just a few examples in the Denver Metro Area of the encroachment of highly industrialized oil and gas activity despite fierce opposition from impacted communities.
In light of this dangerous situation, we call on you to enact a moratorium on all new drilling and permitting until rulemaking based on a comprehensive assessment of existing health and safety data can be put in place. The state of New York has already completed a comparable health assessment, which should be used to expedite the assessment and rulemaking process in Colorado. Colorado must also consider the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report as part of its assessment. As you are aware, the Colorado Court of Appeals’ decision in Martinez provided direction that health and safety must be prioritized before oil and gas development. Considering this decision, scientific studies, and the recent onslaught of permits, it is simply good policy to enact a moratorium to allow time for science-based rulemaking to be made.
The future of Colorado is on the line and we are committed to protecting it for our children and all living things. Many of us supported your candidacy and we now implore you to follow through on your promises of bold action at this most critical time.
Every elected official is remembered for their actions or inactions during their time of service. It is our sincere hope that you will be remembered for being strong, bold, and decisive on behalf of our communities and environment.
As you can imagine, we will not go away because the future of our homes and families depends on our continued advocacy. I truly hope we can work together as allies as we have done in the past.
Joe Salazar, Executive Director of Colorado Rising