The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is squarely opposed to protecting Colorado residents’ safety when it comes to oil and gas operations, and is demonstrating this by siding with oil and gas companies in an ongoing court case filed by Colorado children who feel their health, safety and the environment are threatened by overly permissive drilling and fracking activity.
The lawsuit was originally filed in November, 2013 by six youths who sought to suspend oil and gas development in Colorado until it can be shown conclusively that the activity won’t harm the public, safety or welfare, damage the environment or contribute to climate change. The lawsuit charges that the state Oil and Gas Commission consistently elevates the wishes of business over the interests of state residents. The lead plaintiff is 17 year old Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, an indigenous climate activist of Aztec heritage from Boulder who has given TED talks about environmental policy and has spoken on climate change before the United Nations. (His first name is pronounced “Shu-TEZ-caht.”)
On March 23, 2017, a majority of justices on Colorado’s Court of Appeals ruled (pdf) that the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission must act to protect public health, safety and welfare when considering oil and gas development.
The Grand Junction Chamber opposes those legal protections, and is officially backing Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s request to the Colorado Supreme Court that they reverse the Appeals Court’s decision.
Need to Protect CO Residents Underscored by Recent Deadly Home Explosion
The urgent need to protect Colorado residents from the dangers of oil and gas development was driven home last month after a home in Firestone, Colorado unexpectedly exploded into flames, killing two people inside. Investigators traced the cause to a severed gas line buried near the home that filled the home with odorless, colorless and highly explosive methane gas.
Governor Hickenlooper asked A.G.Coffman not to appeal the ruling, citing a need to protect Colorado citizens and the environment from drilling hazards. Despite this, Coffman filed the appeal anyway, backed by the Grand Junction Area Chamber.
The Grand Junction Chamber has historically sided with oil and gas companies over the safety and welfare of Colorado residents, and over environmental damage.
The chamber wrote to Gov. Hickenlooper backing Coffman’s appeal.
–Main source: Dennis Webb, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Friday, May 19, 2017, “Governor, Coffman at odds on oil, gas appeal.”
–A history of the case can be seen here.