From the Greeley Tribune

A new report from an industry-sponsored research and outreach campaign seeks to reassure Coloradans about the safety of oil and gas development ahead of a committee hearing on a bill that would codify a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling against oil and gas development.

The report was released Tuesday by Energy In Depth, which is a project of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and it examines the health effects of increased oil and gas development in Weld County between 2002-2015.

As oil and gas production rose exponentially in Weld during that time frame, the rates of death for cancer, respiratory illness and heart disease decreased by 1.9 percent, 9.1 percent and 21.4 percent, respectively, according to the report.

The report also pointed to a doubling of the Weld population ages 65 and older and corresponding lack of illness increase as further proof oil and gas development hasn’t negatively impacted Weld residents’ health.

The report heavily cites the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, including references to a report analyzing more than 10,000 air samples in areas of substantial oil and gas operations that found levels of emissions were safe even for sensitive populations.

The release also attempts to cast doubt on University of Colorado researcher Lisa McKenzie’s leukemia study, which was published a year ago and showed higher rates of the cancer among children who lived near oil and gas development. CDPHE Executive Director Larry Wolk called the study’s conclusions misleading at the time, and told the Denver Business Journal that CDPHE saw “no increases in leukemia in oil and gas developed counties versus those that don’t and versus the statewide expected average.”

BY THE NUMBERS

43.2 — Percentage population increase in Weld County between 2002-2015, rising to 284,876 from 198,975.

1.9 — Percentage decrease in rates of death from all types of cancer in Weld County in that timeframe.

21.4 — Percentage decrease in rates of death from all types of heart diseases in Weld County in that timeframe.

9.1 — Percentage decrease in rates of death from all types of chronic lower respiratory diseases in Weld County in that timeframe.

116.8 — Percentage increase in the number of oil and gas wells in Weld County in that timeframe.

*Sources: Colorado Department of Health and Environment; Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

 

The report came out just a day before the Colorado State Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to hear testimony on House Bill 1077, a bill authored by Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, which Energy In Depth says would make oil and gas operations more difficult in the state because it would require oil and gas operators to prove development does not adversely affect human health and does not contribute to climate change, according to the release.

On the eve of the hearing, Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, welcomed the Energy In Depth report.

“This analysis by Energy In Depth, and the tremendous collection of independent health studies they reference, confirms the significant benefit our energy industry provides our home state,” Haley said in the release. “Weld County has witnessed significant growth in both population and energy production over the past 15 years, yet we are also seeing an important drop in the frequency of cancer, heart disease and respiratory issues.”

 


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