Proposed recommendations - Colorado Department of Natural

Task Force member: Bernie Buescher
RECOMMENDATION TO Create and Ombudsman
Regarding both the General Assembly and the Department of Local Affairs: The Task Force
should recommend to the General Assembly the creation of an Ombudsman to deal with citizen
concerns regarding oil and gas development.
Description: The General Assembly should create a Property Rights Ombudsman to be housed
in the Colorado department of Local Affairs. The Ombudsman shall:
 Develop and maintain expertise and understanding regarding oil and gas and local
property law
 Advise real property owners who have concerns regarding oil and gas activities
 Provide information to private citizens, government entities and other interested parties
about oil and gas development, and land use law, and the rights of each person involved
in such activity;
 If requested, the Ombudsman may render an advisory opinion regarding the rights of
each person.
The Department of Local Affairs shall develop processes and procedures to ensure the widest
possible dissemination of information regarding the rights of each person involved in or
effected by oil and gas development.
Task Force member: Bernie Buescher
Format for Task Force Recommendations
RECOMMENDATION related to Colorado
Department of Public Health and Environment
These recommendations would require Legislative Authorization and Appropriation
Proposal, and Rationale:
Provide enhanced state oversight to timely and effectively respond to local concerns
regarding oil and gas development. These services would include increased public health
information, and expanded air quality monitoring and inspections. The Colorado Department
of Public Health and Environment (the Department) has proposed to the Task Force three
initiatives to meet this objective:
Health Complaint/Information Line;
Mobile Air Quality Monitoring Unit; and
Human Health Risk Assessment study.
The Task Force should recommend implementing legislation, accompanied with a fiscal note
or decision item that details the necessary appropriations to authorize all three initiatives.
The proposed legislation would require the Colorado Department of Public Health and
Environment to maintain a health complaint and information line, to respond to questions and
collect data relating to local concerns regarding oil and gas development and other industrial
The department should also be authorized and required to maintain an ambient air quality
mobile monitoring program. The program shall include at least one vehicle or other mobile
unit capable of collecting site-specific, ambient air quality data.
The department shall cause to be conducted an ongoing human health risk assessment to
address potential health impacts associated with oil and gas development. The study may be
performed by the department, contractors to the department, or a combination thereof. The
study shall be completed and made available to the public no later than October 1, 2016, and
annually thereafter
Please note that CDPHE has already submitted a decision item to the general assembly,
seeking to convert the 5 term-limited oil and gas infra-red camera employees to full time
employees (as well as other oil and gas –related FTE).
Task Force member: Bernie Buescher
Detailed Background Information
Health Complaint/Information Line
The Health Complaint/Information Line would provide Colorado citizens with a central point
to call for obtaining information on oil and gas development, as well as to submit health
concerns relating to oil and gas development and other industrial activities. While it would
be housed in CDPHE, the complaint/information line could be paired with a similar existing
service. For example, the Colorado Health Emergency Line for Public Information (COHELP) is
a public support service sponsored by the Department and operated by the Rocky Mountain
Poison and Drug Center, a division of Denver Health. The addition of the Health Complaint
line could either be stand alone, or could be paired with the COHELP line to provide citizens
with a central point to log their complaints related to oil and gas development or other
activities. Where appropriate, complaints would be followed up by a dedicated health
professional conducting an in-depth survey of the health conditions and mapping of the
location. This initiative would be comprised of funding to support the COHELP line to serve as
operators forwarding the complaints on to staff members at the Department. Many times
citizens are looking for information to make their own decisions about the safety of oil and
gas development.
The Health Complaint/information Line would be used to provide information on current oil
and gas regulations, regulatory agency information and presentations, and links to public
health studies. Two staff members are proposed for this initiative, with one serving as the
Work Group Leader/Nursing Professional to design the workflow processes and guide the
overall Health Complaint line, and the other staff member to assist with complaints and
analyze the data collected. The data collected by the Health Complaint line would be used to
compare the rate of occurrence in particular areas and determine if a higher level of response
is warranted. The Health Complaint line would involve two Tiers of response. Tier 1 is the
collection of in-depth information from the complainant by a public health professional. Tier
2 would be triggered based on the findings in Tier 1 and involve a study of the ambient air
quality at a particular location. Tier 2 would could lead to mobilization of the the air
monitoring unit and staff to investigate the ambient air quality and further assess the
source(s) of emissions.
Mobile Air Quality Monitoring Unit
As noted above, the mobile air quality monitoring unit would be used based on the outcome
of Tier 1 findings. The mobile unit would be dispatched to a defined location to monitor
ambient air quality and help determine potential sources of the emissions. The monitoring
unit would be fully equipped with a gas chromatograph for volatile organic compounds
(VOCs)/hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrogen sulfide, particulates,
meteorology, data logging, communications and calibration equipment. Data collected by the
monitoring unit would be evaluated against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)
Task Force member: Bernie Buescher
dose-response values for the hazardous air pollutants for those pollutants expected to be
associated with oil and gas development. This list of air pollutants includes both chronic
(long-term) and acute (short-term) values for inhalation exposures.
The combination of a health complaint line and mobile air quality monitoring unit would
enable the Department to expand its response to health complaints in a meaningful way.
Moreover, to further pin-point emissions of concern, the Department could use staff from the
Department’s Oil and Gas Team infra-red camera inspection group. The Department has
requested legislative approval to make these infra-red camera employees permanent as part
of a broader request for additional staff for oil and gas permitting and compliance activities.
Leaking exploration and production equipment can be a significant source of emissions, and IR
cameras enable inspectors to see leaks that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
CDPHE’s IR camera program is also an important complement to the CDPHE oil and gas
regulations promulgated in 2014, which require industry to inspect oil and gas sites utilizing IR
cameras or similar instruments.
The Department would also use the mobile monitoring unit in other situations including
emergency response, enforcement, hot-spot identification and fence line monitoring to
supplement the times when the monitoring unit was not being used for complaints. While
citizens calling the health complaint line may be focused on immediate health issues, there is
also concern about potential long-term health impacts from oil and gas development.
Accordingly, the Department plans to use EPA’s risk assessment process to estimate the
probability of adverse health effects from oil and gas operations, utilizing new data being
collected in Garfield County and the North Front Range.
Human Health Risk Assessment
A Human Health Risk Assessment is defined as “the process to estimate the nature and
probability of adverse health effects in humans who may be exposed to chemicals in
contaminated environmental media, now or in the future.” A human health risk assessment
normally includes four steps:
Hazard identification;
Dose-response assessment;
Exposure assessment; and
Risk characterization.
The Department has experience with risk assessments and would either conduct the risk
assessments or provide oversight to a contractor performing such studies. The studies would
use the latest and most accurate data, including but not necessarily limited to the air quality
monitoring data from emission and dispersion studies being conducted by Colorado State
Task Force member: Bernie Buescher
University’s Department of Atmospheric Science. These emission dispersion studies are
currently taking place in Garfield County and the North Front Range, and scheduled for
completion in 2016. The data obtained from these emission and dispersion studies will go
through quality assurance and be peer reviewed before being released.
Risk assessments require a complex analysis and are used to determine the probability of
adverse health effects. The Department estimates the timing for a risk assessment conducted
by the agency at 9 to 12 months, and by an outside 3rd party at 6 to 9 months, not including
proposal and contracting activities.
Estimated Fiscal Impact
The Health Complaint/Information Line at CDPHE is estimated to cost $250,000 per year.
This cost includes one staff member at the Nursing Profession/Health Provider level, and one
staff member at the Statistical Analyst level. If the line is implemented in conjunction with
COHELP at Denver Health, that would add another $50,000 – 100,000 per year.
A single Mobile Air Quality Monitoring Unit is estimated to cost $325,000 with an additional
$100,000 per year for staff. Equipment needed includes
Van $110,000
o $50,000 base vehicle cost
o $60,000 configuration with equipment racks, electrical, HVAC, generator
and sampling ports
Trailer $110,000
o 15,000 base trailer cost
o $60,000 configuration with equipment racks, electrical, HVAC, generator
and sampling ports
o $35,000 tow vehicle
Staffing for the mobile monitoring vehicle would require a Department staff member at the
Physical Science Researcher/Scientist II level.
The Department estimates the cost of a Human Health Risk Assessment using a third party
contractor $250,000-$300,000 per risk assessment or if conducted by Department staff
$150,000-$200,000 per risk assessment. The risk assessment work would involve a Professional
Toxicologist using EPA’s Human Health Risk assessment process.
As detailed in the CDPHE decision item, making the 5 IR camera staff permanent, coupled
with other CDPHE oil and gas related requests, would cost approximately $950,000 per year.
Task Force member: Bernie Buescher