DENVER (CBS4) – Activists packed an oil and gas meeting at a downtown Denver office building on Monday morning and loudly sent a message that they want the state to stop issuing permits for fracking.
It was a sign of the times in Colorado — oil and gas drilling remains as controversial an issue as ever.
Anti-fracking activists confronted the members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in the meeting, calling their regulations a sham and a public safety threat.
“You don’t give a damn about us. All you care about is the oil and gas companies,” said one of the many activists who accused the commission of illegally issuing new drilling permits.
At issue is an appeals court ruling that activists say requires the commission to put health, safety and welfare before drilling. But the ruling hasn’t taken effect pending an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, and Commission Director Matt Lepore says it doesn’t require them to do anything other than consider a rule change.
“What’s missing from all of that argument is our belief that we are protecting public health, safety and welfare,” Lepore said.
After April’s fatal gas explosion in Firestone that killed two people, many activists say they don’t agree.
“You have blood on your hands,” another activist told the commission. “By allowing new permits for gas and oil, you are killing people.”
“Anybody who thinks that the Firestone incident hasn’t affected us just couldn’t be more wrong,” Lepore told CBS4.
LePore presented new information Monday about the explosion, which was connected to an abandoned flow line. He says the commission has collected data on more than 7,500 other abandoned flow lines around the state and conducted more than 30,000 safety tests.
State Rep. Lori Saine, a Republican from Firestone, plans to carry a bill in the next legislative session to map flow lines across Colorado. That’s something the commission is planning to look into whether that bill passes or not.