Thursday, December 20, 2012

A letter from Hick


How many of you have received emails like this from our Governor's office, in response to your comments concerning Longmont's ban on fracking, or any other comment concerning the oil and gas industry?
Dear Mary:
Thank you for writing regarding fracking regulations in Longmont. This is an important subject and we are grateful you took the time to express your concerns. 
Oil and gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, is regulated by personnel at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.  In April 2012, Colorado’s new chemical disclosure rules went into effect, requiring oil and gas operators to publicly disclose all chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of their wells.  These are some of the fairest and most transparent fracking regulations in the country and will likely serve as a model for other states.  
Local involvement is critical in oil and gas development. Close collaboration between local government and state regulators often results in conditions that must be agreed upon before any well can be drilled. At the same time, we have to be mindful that a patchwork of rules that create inconsistency and uncertainty undermines the responsible development of our important oil and gas resources – resources we all consume – the jobs they afford, and critical revenues to local and state governments across Colorado.
Under current law, as interpreted by the Colorado Supreme Court, the State of Colorado and municipalities share regulatory authority over oil and gas operations. However, when state and local rules conflict, or if a municipality regulates technical aspects of drilling, local regulations typically must yield to the State. Where the line is drawn between the State’s and a municipality’s regulatory authority is not always clear. After lengthy discussions with city officials, the State concluded some of Longmont’s oil and gas regulations intrude on matters within the State’s regulatory purview. The lawsuit will bring greater clarity and certainty to the respective roles of state and local governments in regulating oil and gas operations. Local governments have many opportunities under the COGCC’s existing rules to work with COGCC and oil and gas companies during the permitting process and beyond to craft creative solutions to particular concerns related to oil and gas operations within their jurisdictions. In the meantime, the State will continue to seek an acceptable compromise with Longmont that will result in dismissal of the suit. (How many of you are laughing at this comment?)
A strong process for local-state collaboration strikes an important balance. Colorado’s longstanding approach ensures we can protect the environment and the public while enforcing robust statewide rules ensuring the safe, orderly extraction of a resource all citizens consume. (We consume this resource because it's cheap for the industry to extract and produce, and because our elected officials refuse to enable non-renewable alternatives ample opportunity to thrive).
In addition, Colorado continues to promote a diverse energy supply that includes both traditional and renewable energy that will protect our environment, keep consumer’s costs low, create jobs, and provide safe and reliable energy. 
We appreciate your input and will keep your thoughts in mind as we move forward. 
Sincerely,
Office of Governor John W. Hickenlooper

I'd like to respond to this letter, but this came from a "do-not-reply" email form letter.

Dear Governor,

I'm aware of all of this information. Laws that allow toxic chemicals to be injected into the ground, using methods that pollute our air, are not taken seriously, thus they're not adhered to, by the oil and gas industry and are not regularly or consistently monitored by any regulatory body of the state of Colorado. They're useless! These laws are not what the people of Colorado expect when it comes to how business is conducted. Eliminating the problems associated with oil and gas development is the best solution. No amount of money, from fees or fines, will ever replace the pristine air and water we are seeking to protect.

My local officials, the Garfield County BOCC, are right in line with you and the COGCC when it comes to selling off every single spec of land to the oil and gas industry. Money is the number one priority. They, along with you, could care less about the current or future health of our community. Have you been paying attention to all the new cancer centers being built on the western slope?

Your form letter does not address any of the concerns we informed, educated citizens of Colorado are pressing you to consider as you continue to do business as usual. How dare you align yourself with a private business and collude to sue a community, like Longmont, who has voiced their opinion on a practice that is not a given right, but a privilege. The oil and gas industry has shown, time after time, that they are above the law in Colorado. They have even been a party to writing the laws you speak of, that they are governed (sic) by. As long as they pay your fines, they can continue destroying our air, water and land. You may not think you will be around to see the long-term effects, but if you actually saw with open eyes, smelled with an open nose, and listened to your constituents with an open mind, you would understand that the effects are present, even if you and the industry deny the evidence.

I have been collecting stories of men and women who are gravely ill, and whose lands are destroyed because of these so-called lawful practices of the oil and gas industry.

I just noticed, there isn't a reply option to your email. I guess this'll get posted on FB and on my blog.

Mary

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TODAY!: Boulder County Commissioner's Public Hearing


Please ask all of those who are concerned about the environmental and public health consequences of oil and gas development to please make their voices heard at TODAY’s Boulder County Comissioner’s Public Hearing into proposed updated oil and gas regulations at 4 PM at the old Courthouse on Pear Street .

Public comments can also be submitted via e-mail to:  commissioners@bouldercounty.org

With best wishes and many thanks,

Tobias

Tobias Schunck
303 776 6007 voice
303 776 2575 fax
303 619 0544 mobile

Monday, December 3, 2012

Deborah Rogers, Shale Gas Economic Presentation

Please watch Ms. Rogers' presentation

http://energypolicyforum.org/2011/12/01/deborah-rogers-shale-gas-economic-presentation/

One woman's story about living in Colorado, and leaving because of the effects of coalbed methane activity



Good Morning Ms. Russell:
Thank you for taking the time to reply.  I am sure you lead a busy life with all your fun activities and serious oil and gas industry undertakings. 

Here is my story that occurred while living in Colorado between 2003-2005:
The the name of the coal bed methane company was Evergreen when we lived there but was bought out by Pioneer in 2004.  There was one existing coal bed methane well located at the entrance to our property and our home was located on the backside of it so we were rarely bothered by the drilling noises depending upon the wind direction.  My husband went to work before daylight and came home after dark and if there was a lot of snow then he came in an alternate entrance.  I noticed a tower platform rising above trees since we lived on the top of a mesa for a couple of days and some difference noises.  I was very uneducated about the coal bed methane drilling operations when we first moved to Colorado in 2003, but was getting involved in local meetings due to information from my neighbors and learning a lot about the industry.
I decided to walk over to the well one afternoon and discovered a small crew of less than half a dozen men smoking at the well even though they had a no smoking sign posted on the well pad.  It was during high fire danger which was posted on the road daily as well.   

About 90 acres of our land was beautiful mature Douglas Firs.   Upon walking into the woods beside the pad, I discovered that the workers were also defecating in our woods and I am sure urinating too since there was no pit toilet on site.  I asked them to move a trailer onto the well pad that had "rutted" some of our  property off the well pad.  I asked the workers the name of their supervisor and later got in touch with him and set up a meeting for the morning of the following day.   

I walked the long distance to meet with him the next day only to discover he was a "no show".  He did not have the decency to call me and reschedule.  At the point, I was furious and told the men that they would have to cease operations right then and get off my property.  They sent a young "safety" employee later to talk to me but I still said they would not be allowed to operate until their supervisor kept his word and met with me.  The safety officer called the sheriff's deputies.  I told them I would be at the house when they arrived and please send them there.  Within the hour they arrived and I commenced to share with them the local, state and federal health and safety violations that I had witnessed the previous day.  The sheriff's deputies concurred and when we arrived back at the well the number of employees had increased significantly to over twenty, along with the final arrival of the supervisor that was supposed to meet with me that morning.  The sheriff's deputies advised the supervisor that the operation would remain shut down until they complied with all the health and safety regulations, in which they were in violation, that they were required to follow.  (*It so upsets me that the Environmental Protection Agency waives many of their regulations/protections specifically for the oil and gas industry.  My question is:  what is the point of regulations if private industry does not have to follow them?)   

Pioneer employees visit their wells daily, 360 days a year.  We kept our entry gate secured with a master lock that interlocked with their master lock.  The subcontracting "fracking" crew had added a combination lock to our gate in which the entire community had the combination.  The sheriff's deputies told them they would also have to remove the combination lock and replace it with a master lock, per my demand.  The entire charade perpetrated by that company was to intimidate me, as they do all the land owners, and have me hauled to jail, probably, or at least "silenced" and sent back home.  They threatened me by saying that I would have to pay for the time the operation was shut down as well.   I am convinced of this since I was only one "woman" and their numbers grew to at least twenty men.  However, much to their chagrin, they were in violation and did not succeed in intimidating me.  There is absolutely zero respect for the property owner regardless if you own the mineral rights or not (my neighbor's own the mineral rights and have nightmares with them) and we did not. 
I did not press the issue to have the company fined for their violations and in retrospect I should have.  I contacted the coalbed methane company CEO who happened to be in Alaska (raping that state too) and made an apointment to see him the following week since he was going to be in Colorado.  I made up a list of my reasonable "demands" and presented him with it.  Unfortunately, he had the local "safety" man present when we had our discussion.  He listened politely, as an educated man should, but my demands fell by the wayside and shortly thereafter the company changed ownership and this CEO was replaced. 
We lived (in Colorado) for three years and loved it.  However, as we actively opposed the coal bed methane industry, due to their destructive and toxic policies, along with intimidation of property owners, we noticed two more wells being drilled on an adjoining property.  We also had information that there was a second well proposed on our property within the 150 ft limit near our home.  We were most blessed when a neighbor's friend in Florida called to offer to buy our property, unsolicited.  We knew property was not "moving" and so we accepted the offer, primarily because of the horrid consequences brought about by the coal bed methane drilling company.  

We want to return to the mountains when we retire, but absolutely will not buy property in Colorado ever, or in any other state that has coal bed methane activity.  It is so tragic how that industry has totally raped the land and the affects of their pollution are yet to be discovered and proven, medically and legally.
One of my neighbors' neighbor has a well within 150 feet of their home and is fighting cancer.  In the last couple of years, a home exploded near Trinidad, Colorado due to coal bed methane drilling. I am sure you know nightmare story after story. 
While living in Colorado I would use the Trinidad local library often.  I happened across an article about a wonderful former Federal Forest Supervisor, by the name of Gloria Flora.  She is my environmental heroine and lives in Helena, Montana now.  She is of international fame and I have often spoken with her over the phone and by email in the past.  She continues the "fight" against the oil and gas industry in Montana, along the "Front Range", and has been successful in defeating them.  She is remarkable and I urge you to look her up on the Internet.   Her life is an inspiration to all environmentalists who care about Mother Earth.  You are a wonderful inspiration too and apparently are walking in Gloria's footsteps.  You so rock!
I wish you the best in our fight to save our beautiful world.  Please keep me updated.  I am happy to help.   
I have worked for almost seventeen years as a federal park ranger and am an environmentalist and vote for conservative candidates so I am not the "norm".  You go girl!
Sincerely,
Kathy Mabry

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Garfield County Residents need to let the BOCC know how you feel


The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners will be meeting at 8am Tuesday Nov. 20 in Glenwood Springs, 108 W.8th St., to hear perspectives from the public and diverse stakeholder groups on the proposed oil and gas rules process regarding proposed groundwater monitoring requirements and proposed adjustments to the permitting requirements and setbacks of oil and gas facilities to buildings.  Clicking the weblink below will take you to the meeting agenda and the relevant documents, including the currently proposed draft rules as written by COGCC.

Additional details, including the online method to provide public comment directly to  COGCC about the rulemakings, are available via the COGCC website at: https://cogcc.state.co.us/

Lastly, the next COGCC hearing on these rulemakings is Dec. 10&11  in Denver.

An Exploratory Study of Air Quality Near Natural Gas Operations


An Exploratory Study of Air Quality Near Natural Gas Operations


TEDX is pleased to announce that our paper "An Exploratory Study of Air Quality Near Natural Gas Operations" has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication by Human and Ecological Risk AssessmentClick here to download the paper.
Abstract
This exploratory study was designed to assess air quality in a rural western Colorado area where residences and gas wells co-exist. Sampling was conducted before, during, and after drilling and hydraulic fracturing of a new natural gas well pad. Weekly air sampling for 1 year revealed that the number of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs) and their concentrations were highest during the initial drilling phase and did not increase during hydraulic fracturing in this closed-loop system. Methylene chloride, a toxic solvent not reported in products used in drilling or hydraulic fracturing, was detected 73% of the time; several times in high concentrations. A literature search of the health effects of the NMHCs revealed that many had multiple health effects, including 30 that affect the endocrine system, which is susceptible to chemical impacts at very low concentrations, far less than government safety standards. Selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were at concentrations greater than those at which prenatally exposed children in urban studies had lower developmental and IQ scores. The human and environmental health impacts of the NMHCs, which are ozone precursors, should be examined further given that the natural gas industry is now operating in close proximity to human residences and public lands.
More information on endocrine disrupting chemicals can be found at www.endocrinedisruption.org.