Fact Check: Is the Supreme Court being asked to rollback health and environmental protections?

Out of Gas


Bruce Finley

Media Publication:

The Denver Post

Originally Published On:

April 3, 2018


Out of Gas

Claim: “Colorado AG, oil and gas industry groups urge Colorado Supreme Court to relax rule for protecting public health and the environment.”

Fact: The Colorado Attorney General and industry groups have not asked for any rules to be relaxed. Instead, they have asked the court to enforce a legislative mandate requiring the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee (COGCC), when issuing drilling permits, to ensure they are fostering “responsible, balanced” development of the production and use of oil and gas “in a manner consistent with protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources.”  

In 2013, a group of teenagers asked the COGCC to stop issuing any new drilling permits without concrete scientific evidence that it will not have any adverse effects on people or the environment. The COGCC declined, and the teenagers appealed.

The Colorado Court of Appeals overruled the COGCC, finding that the phrase in a “manner consistent with” health and environmental protections does not “indicate a balancing test but rather a condition that must be fulfilled.”

Whether one interprets the words “in a manner consistent with” as a balancing test or as a precondition, the statement that the attorney general and industry groups are asking the court to relax public health and environment protections is patently false. They are simply asking that the court uphold the rules that have been the norm since they were passed by Colorado lawmakers.

Rating: Out of gas.

Reviewed On:
April 23, 2018