Press Release

Sep 27, 2013

Polis, DeFazio Urge Hearing on Oil and Gas Leaks After Colorado Floods

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) asked the House Resources Committee to hold a hearing on oil and gas spills caused by the recent catastrophic floods in Colorado.

“Not only have my constituents been dealing with damage to their homes, schools, and roads, they are increasingly concerned about the toxic spills that have occurred from the flooding of nearly 1,900 fracking wells in Colorado,” stated Polis. “Congress must deal with this issue to ensure that natural disasters do not also become public health disasters.”

“This is not a partisan issue,” said DeFazio. “People dealing with aftermath of a catastrophic natural disaster don’t need to worry that their health is at risk because of oil and gas spills. Congress needs to hold a hearing so we can assess the consequences of this flood and figure how to bring relief to the affected communities.”   

In a letter to Resource Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), the representatives cited reports from state and federal agencies tracking oil and gas spills and leaks that threaten public health and local drinking water.  

“In addition to extensive damage to homes, buildings, public lands, and infrastructure, floodwaters inundated an area heavily concentrated with oil and gas development. As a result of the flood, nearly 1,900 wells in Colorado were ‘shut in’ last week to stop the flow of oil and natural gas and to hopefully prevent potential spills and leakage. Despite industry efforts to minimize contamination events, there have still been well documented instances of leaking and spills from tanks, wells, and pipelines.

“We are concerned that these spills and leaks may pose health risks to individuals who are already dealing with damage and destruction to their homes and property. As Congress continues to consider policies to expand domestic oil and gas production, we would benefit from learning more about how disasters like this can impact local communities, states, and federal regulators. We respectfully request that you hold a committee hearing as soon as possible so that we may fully understand the potential grave consequences resulting from this flood,” they wrote. 

Polis and DeFazio went on to add that the Committee and Congress would benefit from hearing firsthand accounts from local elected officials, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, EPA response teams, experts in oil and gas technology and innovation, and conservation advocates.

Click here to view the letter