Rely on Occupational Safety & Health ReporterSM for full news coverage and documentation of federal and state workplace safety and health programs, standards, legislation,...
By Tripp Baltz
Colorado Democratic state lawmakers say Gov. John Hickenlooper’s (D) plan to address underground oil and gas flow lines won’t do enough to protect public health and safety, while industry officials maintain they will work with the governor on the proposed changes.
Hickenloooper’s plan—which he announced Aug. 22 following two recent fatal accidents involving oil and gas facilities—is a mix of legislative, regulatory, and voluntary measures. The plan includes requirements for identifying, inspecting and pressure-testing natural gas and oil flow lines, which connect wellheads to production facilities. The governor also asked for oil and gas operators to pay for the plugging of the 700 to 800 orphan wells in the state.
Hickenlooper said he believes the state should continue to enforce “abandonment” requirements which were initially included in a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission notice to operators May 1 after one explosion. The notice requires operators to verify that any existing flow line not in active use is abandoned under commission Rule 1103, including being cut off below grade and sealed.
However, the governor did not include among his proposals a mandate that energy companies provide publicly available maps of underground lines, nor a requirement that new homes be built a minimum distance away from existing oil and gas facilities, something that has been sought by many environmental groups and state lawmakers.
Sen. Matt Jones (D), in a statement provided to Bloomberg BNA Aug. 23, said the governor’s plan would prioritize “big corporations’ profits” over “people’s health and safety.” Drilling operations “have no business being near people’s homes, playgrounds, or schools, and the public has a right to know exactly where existing flow lines are.”
The governor’s proposed steps are “good steps but certainly not the end of the conversation,” Rep. KC Becker (D), majority leader in the Colorado House, said in a statement. More meaningful measures should be on the table, she said. “Public health and safety should be our No. 1 concern,” Becker said. “I hope we can make progress in that regard in the 2018 legislative session.” That session begins in January.
Hickenlooper made his proposal in response to two fatal accidents. In April, a home explosion in Firestone, Colo., left two people dead and another person critically injured, and a May explosion of an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. oil tank in Mead, Colo., killed a worker and injured three others. The Firestone incident was caused by a leaking 1-inch natural gas flow line from a well also owned by Anadarko.
Anadarko will continue to help implement “the measures that have been identified” by the state to date, Al Walker, Anadarko chair, president and CEO, said in an Aug. 22 statement.
“We welcome these proposals from the governor, as safety is our utmost priority,” Noble Energy said in an Aug. 22 statement. The inspections and safety examinations conducted under the notice to operators confirms “the high safety standards practiced by the industry,” Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said in an Aug. 22 statement.
Noble Energy said in an Aug. 22 statement about Hickenlooper’s plan: “We welcome these proposals from the governor, as safety is our utmost priority.”
The inspections and safety examinations conducted under the notice to operators confirms “the high safety standards practiced by the industry,” Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said in an Aug. 22 statement.
Tracee Bentley, executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, a division of the American Petroleum Institute, said oil and gas producers are “committed to working with the governor and the state over the next several months as we work through these proposals, all the while continuing to deliver the energy that runs our state and our country with the highest possible standards and safety practices.”
Meanwhile, environmentalists echoed the concerns of legislators. “We hope that our leaders will do much more in the near future to ensure that communities are safe and our health and environment are protected from the dangers of oil and gas development,” Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado, said in an Aug. 22 statement.
The seven steps outlined by the governor are:
To contact the reporter on this story: Tripp Baltz in Denver at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at email@example.com
The web site for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which includes the Notice to Operators on flow lines, is at http://cogcc.state.co.us/#/homeThe governor's plan is at https://www.colorado.gov/governor/news/gov-hickenlooper-announces-state%E2%80%99s-response-following-review-oil-and-gas-operations
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)