Loud and Clear: What public regulatory complaints reveal about Colorado’s oversight of oil and gas pollution and whom it serves

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From the Introduction:

The rapidly expanding oil and gas industry in Colorado is releasing large volumes of greenhouse gases – despite scientific consensus that fossil fuel pollution must instead be greatly curtailed to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change. This includes methane, which is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time scale.

At the same time, air quality is worsening for the communities living near oil and gas operations. The main reason is increased pollution from methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which science confirms results in a range of health problems.

Yet despite these evident trends, policymakers (and the general public) continue to assume that state and federal governments have both the will and the resources to adequately oversee a complex and increasingly polluting industry. Years of research and field experience by Earthworks have demonstrated that this is a faulty assumption.

Currently, state regulatory and enforcement agencies are:

  • Inconsistent and insufficient in how they respond to the public;
  • Primarily focused on issuing permits quickly;
  • Underfunded and short-staffed;
  • Subject to the political influence of the oil and gas industry.