Fact Check: If Prop 112 doesn't pass, "life is at stake" because “state and federal state policies may not be protective of health for populations residing near (oil and gas) facilities."
Claim: If Prop 112 is not passed, "life is at stake" because “state and federal policies may not be protective of health for populations residing near (oil and gas) facilities."
Fact: The Camera Editorial Board says that “(Oil and gas) facilities emit air pollutants that are potentially a major health risk for nearby populations," and cites a Colorado School of Public Health study that found "the risks, related to inhalation of benzene and alkanes, increase with proximity to the facilities," and "state and federal regulatory policies may not be protective of health for populations residing near (oil and gas) facilities."
This study was clarified by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Its top medical officer and executive director Dr. Larry Wolk said the study actually “confirms our 2017 findings of low risk for cancer and non-cancer health effects at distances 500 feet and greater.” He also said the study only found increased risk for cancer and non-cancer health effects at distances closer than 500 feet. Colorado’s current setbacks are 500 feet for homes and 1,000 feet for multi-occupied structures.
Last year, CDPHE published the results of its research into the health impacts of oil and gas development, finding the risk of harmful effects “is low for Coloradans living near oil and gas operations.” CDPHE evaluated health risks from certain substances emitted from oil and gas operations and reviewed other studies of health effects possibly associated with living near oil and gas operations.
In 2016, CDPHE looked at Weld County, which produces 90 percent of the state’s oil. It found that Weld County does not have significantly more, and in many cases, it has fewer, instances of asthma, cancer, birth defects, infant mortality and low birth weights than other Front Range counties. This shows “there's no reason to believe that there is a causal relationship between oil and gas operations and chronic diseases or cancers," Wolk said.
Rating: Out of gas.
Claim #2: It is not certain that job losses in retail, health care, hospitality and other positions presumed to be supported by oil and gas activity would devastate the economy.
Fact: More than 94 percent of non-federal land in the state’s top five producing oil and natural gas counties (Weld, Garfield, La Plata, Rio Blanco and Las Animas) would be unavailable for new production if Prop 112 passes. And at least 85 percent of all new oil and natural gas development on non-federal lands would be off limits, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. A recent Common Sense Policy Roundtable study found Prop 112, if passed, would result in the loss of up to 147,800 Colorado jobs, and Colorado’s economy would lose between $169 billion to $217 billion over the next 12 years. During that same time period, the reduction of state and local tax revenue would be between $7 billion and $9 billion. This revenue is critical for state and local governments, schools and special districts to pay for everything from new parks to police and fire departments to road improvements.
Communities across the state receive about $1 billion dollars annually in oil and natural gas revenues that are critical to state and local governments, schools and special districts. In fact, oil and natural gas contributed $839 million to K-12 schools in 2015 and 2016, according to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. And over the past eight years, the industry sent $615 million in severance tax to municipalities and counties for everything from new parks and recreational centers to funding public safety of local police and fire departments and road improvements.
Rating: Out of gas.
Claim #3: The estimate that Prop 112 would put 85 percent of non-federal land in the state off-limits to new oil and gas development, effectively shutting down the industry in many parts of Colorado, came from opponents of the measure.
Fact: : No. The study came from the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, a state regulatory body, and can be found here.
Rating: Out of gas.