I am grateful the Times-Call editorial on Jan. 3 voiced the merits of the Longmont City Council’s decision to enact a 120-day moratorium on accepting and processing new oil and gas drilling applications. However, the editorial oversimplified the residents’ concerns and the reasons why this moratorium and the tighter regulations we hope are forthcoming are so important.
First, the editorial states that the oil and gas companies “rightfully argue that chemically charged fluids are pumped deep below the water table, that well bores are lined and that the surface is protected from used fluids” and so, therefore, they say, the fracking process should be allowed (presumably because those factors somehow mean it’s safe). I’m not sure I agree how “rightful” that argument is, but I can say it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the oil and gas companies would make it. Of course they would — they want to drill! I wouldn’t expect them to say there are known and unknown dangers and risks to this process, especially in a heavily populated area. But I certainly hope the City Council and city staff will take those arguments with a grain of salt and pay attention to the mounting evidence that argues differently.
The editorial goes on to say, “They (Longmont residents) have reason to be concerned about groundwater quality, even if the drilling company guarantees it won’t be tainted.” Wow, guarantees it? OK, I don’t know about you but I find that a little suspect. If they truly guarantee it, let them put the money up front that it would take to fix a groundwater contamination, if it were to occur, including all potential costs for health issues, environmental cleanup and lost property values. If they can truly guarantee it, they shouldn’t have any problem putting this money aside before they drill, since there is apparently no chance they’ll ever have to use it.
I believe this editorial was shortsighted and oversimplified. While it talks about the concerns about groundwater quality and a brief mention about property values, it fails to mention all the other concerns that residents “rightfully” have, including heavy truck traffic, noise, lights, vibrations, air pollution, the vast amounts of water that will be taken out of the water supply forever, to name a few.
These are among the numerous issues that I hope the City Council and city staff will be sure they fully understand as they develop new regulations and that they will take all necessary steps to ensure the health, safety and well-being of Longmont residents and properties.