Tag Archive for decreased property values

Yes on 300: Ban fracking in Longmont

The “high risk, low reward” of hydraulically fractured gas wells inside of Longmont is a compelling argument for not allowing it.

The blatant trampling of community self-determination (aka freedom) is alarming, shocking and in a word un-American when regulation of potentially harmful activity is denied the affected community. This is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of survival and common sense! Protection of community health is the highest of community responsibilities.

The risks and rewards fall into two basic areas:

Health: There are no upsides for the health of the community — period! And if you think the health issues have been overblown, then you have not done your homework. Ignorance, consideration of only one side of the evidence, trust in the “stated” good intentions of the well operators or taking TV ads at face value are not excuses. Be responsible; this is the lifelong health of children that you’re dismissing. There is a word for this kind of disregard: selfishness.

Financial: The hit on property values is obvious. The real estate community has raised this flag. And potential accidents and long-term environmental costs are born by the public sector (i.e., you and me).

I urge you to do the intelligent, the moral and the brave thing: Vote for Ballot Question 300 — ban fracking inside of Longmont.

This ballot initiative does not stop fracking anywhere except inside of Longmont. There is a place for natural gas in energy policy. However, its use should be measured, methodical and well thought out as to the full repercussions. For heaven’s sake, it should not be extracted next to our children’s schools and around our water supplies. Please think — vote yes on 300.

Ban fracking – because it can happen here

Like most people, I had no idea what hydraulic fracturing (fracking) was until one day over two years ago. At the time, I was living in New York City where land isn’t even available for elbow room, let alone to frack. But, one clear day in January, I got a call from my mother who had just received a letter in the mail.

She called to tell me she had received a lease agreement from an oil and gas company. My parents had moved to Northeast Ohio a couple years prior and purchased a pretty house in a small farming community. They chose this property because it abutted protected wetlands. And now, this oil and gas company wanted to frack wells on their property.

Like other states in the rust belt, Ohio had been hit hard by the recession, and communities were suffering. The developer of my parents’ subdivision was no exception. The neighborhood was not built out and new homes weren’t in demand, so it came as no surprise that when an oil and gas company approached the developer with an offer to drill natural gas wells in the subdivision with the promise of hefty compensation, he readily accepted.

In order to get around the protected wetlands, the proposed drilling would happen on adjacent property and the drilling would go horizontally under multiple houses. Because the oil and gas company needed more acreage than the developer had, several residents were contacted with the purpose of leasing their land in order to drill.

Feeling uneasy about the situation, my mom did her research and discovered the environmental hazards associated with hydraulic fractured wells, as well as the possibility of decreased property values. Her suspicions were confirmed when she discovered that in 2008, a house in a neighboring town was blown off its foundation from a faulty gas well that leaked oil and gas into the aquifer. Last spring in another neighboring town a poorly maintained well exploded, spewing crude oil, brine, and natural gas into a nearby stream — next to a busy commercial district.

Although my parents didn’t sign the lease, you don’t have to venture too far from their house today to find that hydraulic fracturing had already invaded their area: Within a mile radius of my parents’ home, there are more than eight producing wells, and over 2,324 producing wells in their county alone — most of which had been drilled since 2007. Many of these were drilled unbeknownst to the community, and the large wells litter the landscape — even in public open spaces.

I moved out to Boulder in September because, like most of the people here, I love the outdoors. The scenery and environmental spirit here are unparalleled. The open spaces in which Boulder residents have access are breathtaking.

But, the danger of fracking in these public lands is imminent. There are over 45,000 fracked wells in Colorado, with more than one spill each day. In 2008, a wastewater pit in Western Colorado leaked 1.6 million gallons of fluid, which migrated into the Colorado River–the source of drinking water for 30 million Westerners downstream.

We need to speak out clearly and say we don’t want drilling in Boulder County. Although the Boulder County Commissioners passed a 6-month moratorium on accepting and processing new applications for oil and gas drilling operations in our open spaces, this is just a first step. During these six months, I encourage the county commissioners to use our taxpayer dollars to investigate all legal options to ban fracking in Boulder County.

As my parents discovered, there is no way to make fracking perfectly safe. Once our land and water have been fracked, the damage can’t be undone. Is that a risk we are willing to take on the landscape that so many of us enjoy? The land that was purchased with taxpayer dollars to be enjoyed by all as open space? To truly protect the health of our families, our community, and our environment, Boulder County should follow the lead of dozens of other localities across the United States that have passed measures to ban fracking.

Melissa A. Schiltz lives in Boulder.