Oil, gas and climate policy in Fort Collins should be driven by these priorities

With Fort Collins City Council again discussing limiting oil and gas activity in the city, we asked readers: "As Fort Collins considers oil, gas regulation and climate policy, what should leaders prioritize?"

"In recent weeks, Fort Collins City Council spent ample time contemplating both future oil and gas regulations and electrical vehicle infrastructure. There's a clear push and pull of reader values in comments concerning U.S. energy independence, pollution and human-caused climate change from our reliance on burning fossil fuels, and concerns of renewable energy reliability and cost. As the city continues to mold its approach to energy consumption and climate policy, what associated issues do you believe are most important to address?"

Council was talking about oil and gas production in city limits at a recent work session, when Mayor Jeni Arndt sparked an interesting question:

“I'm talking about buying out the operators who own the oil and gas,” she said. “That just seems like an elegant solution that is probably cheaper than all these rules and regulations and potential lawsuits for takings.”

According to Coloradoan reporter Jacy Marmaduke: "Arndt said the idea seem potentially promising but emphasized it's just that — an idea that she wants to know more about."

It's part of a larger conversation City Council has been having about potential regulations.

This week's question: What changes are most needed to boost vehicle, bike and pedestrian safety in Fort Collins?

Spurred by our Coloradoan Conversation Starter, some commenters touched on general worries about the impacts of reduced U.S. oil production — affordability of using other energy sources was a concern, especially on behalf of those who have lower incomes. This reflects a commonly expressed desire for prioritizing attainable energy resources that are less expensive and as or more readily available than the fuels we are accustomed to consuming today.

A straightforward answer from Stephen D. suggested a holistic approach: "The connections among climate, human health, and biodiversity should be prioritized. Reducing combustion mitigates greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality; natural areas and wetlands sequester carbon and provide wildlife habitat; experiencing nature and replacing vehicle trips with walking/biking enhance the mind-body system. These and other factors should be integrated into comprehensive cost/benefit analyses to help inform energy and transportation policies."

The realistic potential for future oil and gas development in Fort Collins had many questioning how much effort should be spent in developing new regulations. Marty A asked: "How many permits for oil and gas have been requested for the city? Not very many, if any at all. Why waste time on a subject that has no impact on the city properties. ... As for climate change, our traffic is our biggest problem that the city can actually manage."

This week's other question: Universal preschool is about to become Colorado law. Will it be enough to prepare students?

Ken S. said the council would be misplacing focus on buying up mineral rights when "much of the Fort Collins Field, located near the northeast corner of the city, produces about 97% water, 3% oil and small amounts of gas," according to city government reporter Jacy Marmaduke. Ken asks: "What does the oil and gas development look like since 2013? Nothing. No new wells. No new drilling. If it hasn't happened yet, it is unlikely to take place in the current environment and with new state regulations."

Instead, he said: "How about a focus on developing renewables? How many solar panels would $9 million purchase for the city? How about solar panels on school roofs and on businesses and parking garages?"

Considering the limited drilling opportunities, Eric V. asked whether state and county rules are enough: "Why spend nine months or longer on crafting rules that apply to barely anyone, especially when the state and county are doing the same rules?"

Rather than spend money on mineral rights, Carsoon L. had another idea: "How about forcing the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to ensure bonds are in place for these shut-in wells and not letting operators walk from their responsibilities, force plugging when no longer economically viable, which most sound like they are not, and monitor air quality with local fines to either plug or minimize emissions these marginal wells."

Looking at it from perhaps a wider vantage point than the specific local issue of extraction in Fort Collins, Holly G. said rather than focusing on limiting supply, promoting policies that reduce demand could be the way to go. "If the demand is there, the oil will be produced somewhere; most likely less efficiently, with less care for the environment, and strategically less secure for the U.S.

"Blocking pipelines just results in more oil moved by truck and rail which is less safe, more expensive, and uses even more energy (and more CO2). Policies to reduce demand include incentives for renewable energy production, electric vehicles, and building out charging infrastructure. When better alternatives to oil and gas are available, demand for oil will decline."

Which former Fort Collins restaurant would you most like to see reopen?

Last week when we posed this question, almost 100 of you had an opinion.

By far the most popular request was for the return of Bisetti's Ristorante, the Italian restaurant on College Avenue in Old Town that closed in 2018 after 39 years. Nearly 20% of all respondents named Bisetti's.

There were other nostalgic spots high on the list: Rasta Pasta and Round the Corner (both with 8 votes); Yellow Sub (6); The Catacombs/Nico's Catacombs, Spudworks, China Palace (all with 5); and The Armadillo, Canyon Chophouse, The Egg & I, El Monte and Tico's (all with 4 votes).

Some diners are already mourning Maza Kabob, the Midtown Afghan restaurant that seems likely to close after owner Sayed Sayied died, and vegan spot Gold Leaf Collective.

Even a few more recently closed chain restaurants were mentioned: The Black Eyed Pea, Applebee's, Macaroni Grill and Outback Steakhouse.

DINING PAST: 7 Fort Collins restaurants to remember

Here are all of restaurants commenters wanted to try again:

  • Adelita's

  • Bananas

  • Bennigan's

  • Cable's End

  • Casa De Los Amigos

  • Chocolate Cafe

  • Cordova's Horsetooth Lighthouse

  • Delfannies

  • Der Weinerschnitzel

  • The Cow Patty

  • Elliot's Mess

  • Farmer's Table

  • Fort Collins Brewery

  • Fort Ram

  • Freebies

  • Good Taste Crepe Shop

  • Greek Connection

  • Guiseppie's

  • Hauf Brau

  • Joe's Fireside Cafe

  • King's Food House

  • The Kitchen

  • Locality

  • Meatballs

  • Nate's Steak & Seafood

  • Nokhu on Canyon

  • Out of Bounds

  • Panache

  • Pescado Bay

  • Plank

  • The Prime Minister

  • Renzio's

  • Safari Club

  • Shakey's Pizza

  • South China

  • Sri Thai

  • Swenson's Ice Cream

  • Thunderbird Inn

  • Town House Restaurant

  • Upper Crust Pizza

  • Washington's

  • W.C. Franks

  • Winston's

  • Woody's Wood Fired Pizza

  • Wyatt's Cafeteria

  • Yakitori

  • Zquila

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Fort Collins oil, gas and climate policy should reflect these priorities