Tag Archive for groundwater contamination

Ballot 300 opposition: slick word choice for slickwater

It’s poison, in the water and in their words.

This election I am casting a “yes” vote on Question 300. I just want to take a moment to share some wisdom I’ve learned over the past year about this issue: Read carefully the information you receive on any issue and pay particular attention to word choice.

For example, the opposition to 300 points out that EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has stated, “I am not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water, although there are investigations ongoing.” Besides that fact that this is an outdated statement and much has happened since she said this, it is also a specifically worded statement, “the fracking process itself.” When the industry refers to the “fracking process” they refer to that very moment that water, combined with toxic chemicals and sand, is injected into the well and creates the fissures underground to release the oil or gas from the shale.

Here’s what they are not referring to: Any number of days or weeks before to years after the well has been “fracked” where well-bore integrity may have failed. Any spills or accidents of the frack fluid or chemicals used in it during transport or at any time before or after the frack. The backflow of fluid from the well after it is fracked. The transfer to tanker trucks for disposal. Any accidents or spills that tanker trucks might have on the way to a disposal facility. Any spills, accidents or integrity issues at the disposal well, or the disposal pit at the well. Any leaks or spills during the lifetime of the well.

Also not included is the process by which clean, drinkable, treated municipal water is combined with toxic chemicals to create fracking fluid. Yes, “Fracking pollutes the water our families drink.” Millions of gallons of the water meant for you, for me, for our children to drink is injected with chemicals and made undrinkable. It is forever removed as a source for human consumption and it is disposed of underground because it is toxic waste.

Also brought up by the opposition is how many water wells in Colorado have been polluted by “fracking” fluid from hydraulic fracturing drilling. Well, how many people in Longmont city limits are concerned about their well water being contaminated by fracking? I know I’m not. I don’t get my water from wells. Have the people who wrote this ad even visited Longmont? I get my water from a municipal water source. I am concerned about surface and groundwater contamination, though, especially in areas where children and animals play. You need only visit the COGCC’s website to see hundreds of such contaminations; one was by Trail Ridge Middle School.

Here’s what they also aren’t talking about: Air quality in close proximity to a well. Fracking a well releases not only natural gas and oil, but also VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other toxins into the air. Some of it is captured, but some of it isn’t and over the lifetime of the well, especially a multi-well pad site, it would certainly add up. These chemicals are known to have neurological and respiratory effects and many are known to cause cancer. How’d you like to have that in your backyard for 20 years? What about 50? Many scientific studies are raising serious red flags, and even the COGCC and the CDPHE have said they just don’t know what the health effects of living in close proximity to a well are. How’s that for instilling confidence in the citizens this is forced upon?

And regardless of air and water, this is still always going to be a highly industrial activity that is damaging to property values, quality of life and has safety issues that are a concern for every resident when it occurs in close proximity to where people live and children go to school.

Read carefully. I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to choose wrongly because of semantics. Vote “yes” on 300 and “Keep Longmont a Great Place to Live.”

Disneyland > Pinocchio > Weld County Commissioners

Recently in the Times-Call, Weld County Commissioners made their county sound like the new economic Disneyland with its high employment, balanced budget, low taxes and skyrocketing property values. I was contemplating a move from Longmont to Frederick to become Mickey and Minnie’s newest neighbor until I learned what their prosperity is based on.

By their own admission, at least 25 percent of Weld County’s proudly balanced budget comes from oil and gas revenues, “Fracking” in particular which is often associated with extracting natural gas. Natural gas prices in the U.S. are currently very low. However, demand is increasing and there is evidence of an estimated 20 percent of our shale gas reserves were quietly committed to overseas buyers. Since foreign countries pay up to 5 times more for natural gas, whom would you sell to?

Any economist would say this foretells rising prices domestically. Happily for Weld County, their oil & gas revenues will likely grow as prices increase. Modestly assuming the oil and gas portion of their income increases by 1 percent per year from the drilling boom, 55 percent of Weld’s budget in 30 years could rely upon income from oil and gas. Almost no one predicts that the boom will last more than 30 years, when reserves are projected to run out.

This mimics Houston in the early ’80s, when the bottom dropped out of the oil and gas industry and that region suffered severely as a result of their extreme dependence upon the industry. This time there will be no recovery, as price cannot bounce back for a resource that does not exist. Will Weld County be the new Houston when their economic carnival is victim to a catastrophic reversal because of the inevitable oil and gas bust?

Also, according to a recently released study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a mere 200 wells in Erie are responsible for higher levels of propane and ethane than occur in Pasadena, Calif., which is essentially Los Angeles — one of the most polluted cities of our country. “Well” County currently has more than 18,000 wells, which is 90 times the number in Erie. Does this suggest that their air pollution will be 90 times worse than Erie’s which is worse than LA? Forget Mickey and Minnie. I’m moving to LA to get away from the pollution.

Why does Weld County think it is so important to share their precarious “jackpot” of an economic success with us through our local newspaper which has little circulation in most of Weld County? Are they now marketing their amusement park brand of economics to the citizens of Longmont? In particular why do they feel it is so critical to inform us that an inordinate amount of their balanced budget comes from a heavy industrial activity that is being allowed in residential areas and is a known cause of significant air pollution?

Oh, and did I mention ground water contamination from the dangerous chemicals used in the Fracking process? Based on public record, between Aug. 28, 2003, and Jan. 5, 2012, there were at least 430 incidences of groundwater contamination caused by oil and gas wells in Weld County alone.

Could it be that the Weld County Commissioners are simply “carnies” for the oil and gas industry paid off by a tiny sliver of that industry’s huge profits at the ultimate expense of Weld’s citizens? Are they running a deceptive sideshow attraction that is a cartoon reality based on “bottom line” accounting alone?

I believe they will find citizens of our fair city considerably more thoughtful about what type of industry we are willing to welcome. They will find us reluctant to sell away our future for a temporary amusement park ride of a financial boom based on a high profit, doomed industry that relies entirely upon a soon to be exhausted natural resource. Weld County, I’m afraid you’ve been “Fracked,” and I for one am not getting in line to buy that ticket.