Oil & gas co. claims Rep Ocasio-Cortez video shows no pollution as facility was 1st ever ordered by regulator to change operations in response to health & safety concerns

Denver & Washington, D.C. — Extraction Oil & Gas Inc.’s Livingston extraction facility in Broomfield, Colorado — captured in Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s video last Saturday — is the first ever to be ordered by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to alter operations in response to community health complaints, according to Broomfield City Council Member Guyleen Castriotta.

“Despite Extraction’s claims that their impacts are ‘well below the level of concern’, we are still getting a lot of health complaints regarding Extraction’s Livingston pad. Nearby residents reported burning eyes and throats, children with nosebleeds and filed dozens of complaints with the city. So many people complained that COGCC took the unprecedented step of ordering an operator to switch from the carcinogenic (Gibson D822) drilling mud to a synthetic (Neoflo 4633) mud. This is the first time COGCC forced an operator to make changes on a site in response to health and safety concerns.” — Broomfield City Council Member Guyleen Castriotta

September 21st, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joe Neguse toured Colorado’s Front Range oil and gas production with impacted community members, local elected officials, Earthworks and other Colorado groups. At Extraction’s Livingston Pad, Earthworks took optical gas imaging footage of the facility revealing normally invisible volatile organic compounds polluting the surrounding air. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a video of our imaging as it occurred and posted it to twitter, garnering over 13,500 retweets and consequent denials from the company and Colorado Oil & Gas Association that the video showed pollution. Extraction lauded its Livingston facility as “among the best anywhere in the United States”.

“If Extraction’s operation is the best our nation’s oil and gas industry has to offer, oil and gas development should never occur anywhere where people live. This is the biggest well pad next to the highest density area that Extraction has ever fracked. The stakes are too high and it should never have been built.” — Mackenzie Carignan, a local resident whose family was exposed to carcinogenic chemicals from the Livingston pad while in their home in early July.

The optical gas imaging footage that Representative Ocasio-Cortez videoed with her phone was taken by a certified thermographer with an industry standard optical gas maging camera, the FLIR GasFinder 320. The $100,000 camera is specially tuned to detect methane and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and is used by industry and regulators for that purpose. Methane is a climate pollutant 86 times worse than carbon dioxide. Oil and gas VOCs often include health hazards like benzene, a carcinogen. VOCs are emitted throughout oil and gas production, not just when hydraulic fracturing is occurring.

“Despite never requesting nor viewing the actual optical gas imaging video, Extraction insists it doesn’t reveal pollution. It does. This is the same old song and dance they always try when caught red-handed ‘who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?’ Meanwhile, residents like Mackenzie are being poisoned.” — Earthworks’ certified optical gas imaging thermographer Sharon Wilson.

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