UPDATE #2: Denver Post, can’t call this a good lede for Gov. John Hickenlooper:
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is asking oil and gas operators to pony up money to plug the 700 to 800 “orphan wells” in the state, but is shying from taking stances on more contentious policies, such as how close new homes can be built to existing wells.
The governor also won’t force the energy industry to allow state officials to compile a publicly available map of all oil and gas pipelines. Instead, he said he wanted to enhance the 811 call program to ensure homeowners can use their telephones to access pipeline information for site-specific areas. Hickenlooper said industry officials were concerned a comprehensive statewide map could lead to people illegally tapping pipelines to siphon off gas. [Pols emphasis]
Siphoning off gas? We’re pretty sure there’s already a law against theft…
UPDATE: As the Greeley Tribune’s Sharon Dunn reports:
“What happened in Firestone … we’ve never seen before,” HIckenlooper said, in response to a question on whether proposed changes could ensure such an explosion would never happen again. “We’re spending millions of dollars to do everything we can to make sure it never happens again. This is about as close to never as you’re going to get.”
In response to the explosion, the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ordered companies to locate, inspect and repair any damaged flowlines in the state. Some companies went a step beyond and abandoned certain flowline practices that led to the explosion and shut off older wells.
But since, there’s been concern on what happens next on a statewide level.
Hickenlooper, in a press conference at the Capitol in Denver, proposed seven changes to existing practice, some which will require simple rulemaking, and others that would require legislation.
As we suspected, the changes requested are relatively small-scale, including more inspections of the kind of flowlines responsible for the Firestone explosion, and more money for what appears to be a woefully inadequate fund to plug abandoned wells.
Which means this debate is very far from over.
KDVR reporting, stand by for news later this morning:
Gov. John Hickenlooper is announcing the state’s response to a review of oil and gas operations on Tuesday.
The review was called in response to the deadly home explosion in Firestone last April.
Mark Joseph Martinez, 42 of Firestone, and Joseph William Irwin III, 42 of Frederick, were killed in the explosion on Twilight Avenue. Erin Martinez was pinned under the collapsed roof and was critically injured.
Investigators said the explosion was caused by unrefined, odorless natural gas from a 1-inch pipeline that was severed.
We don’t know what Gov. John Hickenlooper’s response will consist of, most likely a range of incremental measures to ensure oil and gas companies better manage their far-flung and in some cases disused and decaying drilling infrastructure–which is now coming into conflict with new development along the urbanizing Front Range with tragic results.
We’ll update with news from Hickenlooper’s press conference later today and responses from all sides. Whatever Hickenlooper announces today, we expect the issue to remain a major point of debate in Colorado’s 2018 gubernatorial and state-race elections.