March 2, 2008

Oil and Gas Drillers Whining Against Public Health

To paraphrase Mark Twain, suppose you were an idiot.

And suppose you were an oil and gas driller in Colorado.

But I repeat myself.

For those not tracking the process, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is proposing new rules to make sure oil and gas drilling is done right in Colorado. Doing it right means safeguarding clean air, clean water, and our communities. It means doing things that make sense.

But sensibility is a virtue that oil and gas drillers seem unable to grasp. Although one would think industry, too, would be supportive of safeguarding public health, that doesn't appear to be the case. Instead, industry has launched into what we can only describe as a juvenile temper tantrum.

You know, the kind our kids throw when they don't get the dessert they want on Sunday night right before bedtime? Or the kind they throw when they can't get a gumball on the way out of the grocery store? You get the picture.

And the tired one-liner industry keeps using? The new rules are "one-size fits all."

Let's be clear. If there's anything "one-size fits all" here, it's the fact that oil and gas drillers in Colorado seems opposed to any and all efforts to safeguard public health and our communities. In the last several years, efforts to protect clean air and clean water (including people's drinking water) have met nothing but resistance from drillers. Predictably, industry's fight and rhetoric continues.

Amazingly, the "one-size fits all" proposals that industry is now opposing include rules that would require companies to reduce their air pollution when they finish drilling natural gas wells, to develop a plan to keep chemicals from spilling into drinking water supplies, and to clean up production waste so that land can be used again for homes and businesses. These proposals are so sensible that most (but unfortunately not all) companies in Colorado are already doing this stuff.

Let's get beyond the rhetoric though. The idiocy notwithstanding, we think industry's real gripe is that they're not the ones writing the new rules.

And as far as industry's threat to leave Colorado if these new rules are adopted? While it's a weak bluff, we say that if oil and gas drillers would rather leave Colorado than safeguard public health and our communities, then good riddance.

If oil and gas drillers think it's too much for us to ask them to clean up their messes, keep our drinking water clean, and keep our air clean, they must either think we're stupid or...well, they really must be idiots.

New rules being considered by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission would limit flaring like this, keeping the skies clean and communities safer. Industry opposes this measure.

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