Natural Gas Politics in Colorado

by Michael Patterson

Government officials in La Plata Country, Colorado are working to address an issue that has residents concerned. Natural gas wells in the region are found to be emitting high amounts of methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This discovery came after a 2014 NASA study found that La Plata County had the highest level of methane in the country (Plautz para. 2).

La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt has been actively involved with protecting communities from environmental harm caused by these natural gas wells. She approached Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to get his vote for limiting the use of gas wells in Colorado communities. Senator McCain voted against the removal of the Obama-era rule, which limits the amount of methane being emitted on public land. However, some people have criticized Lachelt for her role in the environmental movement. Some say that her trip to Washington is evidence that she is using her role in public office for personal gain because her trip was funded by an environmental group that she also leads. The issue of oil and politics will be a debate for several years to come.


5 thoughts on “Natural Gas Politics in Colorado

  1. Gwen Lachelt has been an environmental advocate who created multiple groups in order to protect water and air. Communities around the area of the gas wells are experiencing increased asthma attacks, hospital visits and illness linked back the methane exposure. It’s a shame that the core issue of this problem is the health and well-being of society however it’s becoming a political debate. In order to make a concrete difference in this matter, federal laws and invasion are necessary. Clean air is being taken for granted in so many areas that I hope Gwen can continue her support for those who are being negatively affected by the gas wells and focus on the actual issues and put politics to the side.

    • I completely agree with Danielle. American citizens well being should be a priority, rather than a debate. People are getting sick due to our government not doing what its suppose to and that is simply not fair. Nobody should have to go through that. I don’t know much about Gwen, but from what I read, it looks like her intentions are pure in what she is striving to do. Unfortunately, I don’t see this issue improving unless every politician becomes a humanitarian and that’s pretty disappointing. I hope the people who have contracted these affects of the gas wells improve and receive the proper treatment. Once again, are we really surprised that the Trump administration isn’t doing anything about the environment?

  2. Although talked down upon, Gwen Lachelt has done much positive for our environment by creating groups to protect our air and water. The issue of high emissions from the gas wells is a serious issue. With studies showing increased asthma attacks and hospital visits, it is really a shame that politicians can not just focus on public health and put politics to the side for a second. The issue of public health is commonly correlated with politics. Unfortunately I agree with Danielle above and believe that support groups wont make a significant difference. The Trump administration needs to step up and enforce federal laws on these emissions to make a drastic change. I hope that somebody will step up within the administration to help these people who are suffering from this pollution.

  3. As everyone else has mentioned, Gwen Lachelt has contributed heavily to the fight for a clean and safe environment, however at the same time, politicians get too mixed up with an image or political logistics as opposed to doing their actual job: serving the people. As mentioned throughout the whole semester, the battle between health and something less important seems to be present. For the people suffering from this pollution, the government needs to act quickly because quarreling and discussing things other than the issue at hand cause for the government to be defective as opposed to effective.

  4. I find it interesting that oil and gas groups would try to recall her, because I don’t believe she has done anything that egregious to them. She advocated to have the existing methane emission standards remain, but her push for companies to install new technology for methane gas leaks and vents helped more companies than it hurt. She also never denied any permits for new wells or siting of facilities. I understand that a lot of large corporations can be shady in their dealings, but in this case a could believe that this is just a case of the conservative population of her county wanting her out without any large group backing them.

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