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Concerns raised over complaints filed with state agency who regulates oil and gas

COGCC says they respond within 24 to 48 hours
Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-24 20:59:26-04

DENVER -- A Denver7 viewer is raising concerns about how the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) handles inspections and complaints from citizens.

Fran reached out in response to Denver7's 360 story looking at all sides of the oil and gas debate in Colorado.

"As a resident of Firestone and living a few doors down from the home explosion, this horrific accident has forever changed many lives. I do see that Anadarko is trying to improve and make changes. The wells in our area will be removed and they have definitely spent time to help us understand the process.

They are checking their wells vigorously!! My issues are with COGCC. They do not test the wells and follow up as they should. They do not return phone calls. Since the explosion, there are wells by elementary schools in Firestone that I have asked to be inspected. Never did I get a response from a COGCC employee, Governor Hickenlooper, Matt Lepore who has since resigned and his replacement Julie Murphy.

What a disappointment! There is no communication with citizens and COGCC," she wrote in her email.

Denver7 went straight to COGCC for answers.

"If someone feels like we haven't been responsive to a complaint that they have or a concern that they have we need to know about that," Todd Hartman a COGCC spokesman said.

As the state agency in charge of regulating the oil and gas industry, it's COGCC's job to inspect wells and follow-up on citizen complaints. Hartman said they take them seriously, and as soon as someone files a complaint on their website they respond within 24 to 48 hours.

"We take the issue of complaints as one of our highest priorities as an agency," said Hartman.

But that didn't happen in Fran's case. COGCC said it has no formal complaint from her. Fran shared with Denver7 an email she sent to the state agency's director, Julie Murphy, last Friday and she said got no response.

Hartman said Murphy was out of town until Monday and now that they are aware of Fran's concerns COGCC will look into them. He also stressed the best way to file a complaint with the agency is here on their website.

COGCC records show, in the last year, the agency has inspected 33,123 of the state's nearly 55,000 active oil and gas wells.

Hartman said they have doubled the number of field inspectors from 15 to 30 and inspectors are now using infrared cameras to detect any gas leaks, but COGCC still depends on the public to be their eyes and ears and report concerns.

"When somebody has a specific concern that location is going to move right up the priority list and be inspected right away," he said.