Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

LARIMER COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY BOARD (EAB)

 MEETING MINUTES

June 11, 2013

 

 

Members In Attendance:

 

Commissioner:

Cassie Archuleta

 

Lew Gaiter

Melissa Chalona

 

 

Derek Esposito

 

Staff :

Evelyn King

 

Doug Ryan

Ryan McShane

 

 

 

Introduction of Members and Guests:

Those in attendance introduced themselves.

 

Discussion Items:

EAB potential name change.

The members held a discussion with Commissioner Gaiter about the title of the Environmental Advisory Board, and potential to change it to something else, such as the Science Advisory Board.  This subject has come up informally in the past, and Commissioner Gaiter asked that it be more formally discussed. 

 

Doug Ryan introduced the topic with a brief overview and history of the EAB and its role.  The Advisory Board was formed by the Commissioners (BCC) in 1994 with the mission to serve as a sounding board for overall environmental and policy issues.  That was modified in the late 90’s to the role of advising the Commissioners and departments on environmental issues that affect Larimer County.  The Commissioners do not consider the EAB to be an “advocacy” board.  Their intent is that it function more like a science advisory board that provides unbiased information that can be used to make more informed policy decisions.

 

Commissioner Gaiter indicated that the title Science Advisory Board would more accurately reflect his understanding and expectations for the board, and that he believes the other commissioners feel likewise.

 

Doug Ryan reviewed input provided by members not able to attend the meeting.  Joe Wilson indicated that a name change would be positive if it made the BCC more comfortable in referring issues for consideration.  He noted, however, that he would not be in favor of a change if it would be seen as restricting the membership to classically trained scientists.  He noted that there needs to be a place for people with a studied interest in the science or policy of the kinds of issues the EAB considers.  Michael Jones had a question about how the name change would more accurately reflect the role envisioned by the Commissioners, and if the description of the role of the EAB would change in the bylaws.  Commissioner Gaiter addressed these questions by affirming that the current Commissioners probably do see the role of the EAB more accurately defined as science advice, and that they definitely want to leave membership open to people with a broad range of experience not limited by formal training or professional experience. 

 

Those in attendance discussed the issue in some detail, and several themes emerged.  There was an understanding that the word “environmental” conveys different meanings – such as an emphasis on resources including air, water, solid waste, as well as an advocacy or policy perspective.  The scope of the EAB is on the former, and most members would support a name change to science advisory board if that would increase the likelihood that the BCC would feel confident referring technical issues to them for consideration. 

 

There was also support for retaining the emphasis on environmental issues.  A review of the EAB’s Issue Index reveals that almost all of the issues it considers have a strong relation to the environment.  Cassie Archuleta noted that, as a scientist, her interest on the EAB is working on environmental issues from a technical or scientific perspective.  She may not have applied for membership on a Science Advisory Board without the knowledge that it emphasized environmental issues or topics.  A suggestion was to consider the term Environmental Science Board. 

 

All of the members concurred that they want this board to be useful to the Commissioners as a source of unbiased accurate information about important issues related to the environment in Larimer County.  The EAB appreciates its positive relationship with Commissioner Gaiter and with the departments.  The final consideration on the name used for the board should be guided by the role envisioned by the Commissioners and the confidence they would place on how the board was structured and organized.

 

NFR Air Emissions and Dispersion Study.

Doug Ryan provided a brief update on the planned North Front Range Air Emissions and Dispersion Study. The study will proceed over three years, and will be designed to evaluate air emissions and their fate from oil and gas development in the region.  The state legislature has authorized a budget amendment to fund the study.  The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will contract with Colorado State University to lead the study.  It is anticipated that a technical advisory workgroup will be formed to provide input on oil & gas activities of specific concern, and details on monitoring and modeling protocols.  The workgroup will probably also include representation from local government.  The EAB members considered whether it would be beneficial to have a Larimer County representative on the workgroup.  The group felt strongly that it would be a benefit.  Oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracking, has the potential to impact public health and safety.  Technical studies that evaluate the specific impacts are essential in order to provide accurate scientific data that can be used to quantify impacts and determine the need for regulatory controls.  The representation could come from staff, or possibly an EAB member.  Either option would allow the EAB to follow the study and make informed recommendations to the Commissioners about its implications.  Doug Ryan will let the Commissioners know about the study so they can be informed at the time a call for participants on the workgroup is made. 

 

Updates:  

Commissioner Gaiter indicated that the Board of County Commissioners may refer a question to the EAB regarding the County’s role in regulating hydraulic fracking.  The Cities of Fort Collins and Loveland have either passed or are contemplating regulations, and may ask the County to adopt similar regulations in the Growth Management Areas.  The EAB has discussed issues related to fracking on several occasions in order to be informed about the process.  The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission made a presentation to the EAB on their regulatory framework in April of 2012.  Other topics formerly considered include planning for oil and gas development on County lands, and the Garfield County air emissions study. 

 

In anticipation of the upcoming referral from the Commissioners, the EAB will discuss the County’s process for Intergovernmental Agreements and Growth Management Areas with the Planning Department at the July meeting.  Melissa Chalona volunteered to check with Fort Collins and Loveland on their current regulatory process. 

 

EAB Issue Index:

Doug Ryan will update the Issue Index related to the topics discussed at the meeting.

 

July Meeting Agenda:

Annual member orientation, Growth Management Areas, Ozone air quality, city fracking regulations

 

Adjourn:

The meeting ended at 7:45 PM

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.