Tag Archive for hydraulic fracking

Lafayette Community Forum on Hydraulic Fracturing

Forum: The Hidden Risks of Fracking
When: Sunday, March 24th 2:00 – 5:00
Where: Angevine Middle School, 1150 S. Boulder Rd., Lafayette

Please join East Boulder County United on Sunday, March 24th for our forum on hydraulic fracturing. Lafayette sits on the Wattenberg Shale and is in line to see major drilling operations in the period of time to come. We boarder Erie, which now has over 150 wells and is seeing levels of propane in their air several times higher than those of Houston, Texas and ten times that of Pasadena California, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hydraulic fracturing, unchecked, will alter the daily life of our community in every possible sense.

Join us in hearing from the affected neighbors, expert Shane Davis on the full dangers of hydraulic fracturing, and Our Longmont organizers that successfully banned the process from their community in November of 2012.

Contact
Cliff Willmeng, Steering Committee, EBCU; 303-478-6613
Rachael Zatterstrom, Steering Committee, EBCU; 970-409-9820
Cliff Smedley, Steering Committee, EBCU; 303-808-0117

Tell the truth, Wendy.

As a native of Boulder County, and as the son of a man who worked in the oil and gas industry for 35 years, I feel compelled to respond to the hyperbole and melodrama of Encana Oil and Gas’s Wendy Wiedenbeck’s guest editorial (“Anti-fracking activism,” Op/ed Dec. 29). And, as the Colorado director of the national group Food and Water Watch that Wiedenbeck smears, I feel compelled to set the record straight about my organization and the community members that Wiedenbeck depicts as “extremists.”

Being almost completely devoid of facts, Wiedenbeck’s article uses emotional pleas and exaggeration. But what about the peaceful, earnest community members who she derides as “fringe activists?” These are mothers, fathers, teachers and small business people who have, until now, had no say to whether or not the oil and gas industry can put our air, water, soil and property values at risk by dangerous drilling practices like fracking.

Wiedenbeck wants sympathy, but it’s our health, our families’ safety and our communities that are threatened. Let’s examine the factual record.

There are 45,000 fracked wells in Colorado. Increasingly, the oil and gas industry — with the blessing of Governor Hickenlooper — is drilling merely a stone’s throw from our homes, schools, public parks, rivers and streams.

Warning sign on oil and gas condensate tank near homes in Evans COFracking and its associated activities threaten our health. Nearly 25 percent of the chemicals used in fracking could cause cancer; 40 to 50 percent could affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular system; and more than 75 percent could affect the skin, eyes and respiratory system. With these scientifically documented dangers, why is Governor Hickenlooper’s state regulatory agency permitting companies like Encana to drill wells next to elementary schools in Erie, where data from a recent NOAA study found levels of propane ten times higher than in Los Angeles?

Fracking contaminates groundwater. According to an analysis done by the Denver Post of the state’s own regulator agency’s data, oil and gas has contaminated groundwater over 350 times in the past 5 years. On average, there is more than one spill a day across the state.

It takes 1-5 million gallons of water to frack a well. Each well can be fracked multiple times. Multiply that across the 45,000 wells in Colorado and you get a sense of the sheer volume of water that is being laced with thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals and pumped into the ground. In effect, this water is removed from the hydrological cycle forever. Having just experienced one of our state’s most severe droughts, when 62 out of 64 counties were declared in a state of disaster, it seems unconscionable to continue such wanton destruction of our precious water resources.

Fracking drives down property values. There have been reported cases of home values dropping up to 75 percent due to nearby fracking activity. Increasingly, banks are not granting mortgages to property owners whose land carry oil and gas leases.

Ban Fracking NowSadly, it’s not just Wiedenbeck who’s obedient to the business objectives of the oil and gas industry — Governor Hickenlooper is astonishingly out of touch with Coloradans on this issue too. He has refused multiple requests to meet with Coloradans who are concerned about fracking taking place near their homes and children’s elementary schools. He has locked citizens out of “public meetings” that he has convened to discuss the issue while gladly keynoting at the oil and gas industry’s annual summit, starring in pro-fracking advertisements, and to suing the citizens of Longmont for attempting to protect their health, safety and property from fracking.

Wiedenbeck’s attack should be seen for what it is: A desperate attempt to cover up the fact that Coloradans don’t want fracking. This was made clear when citizens in Longmont voted overwhelmingly to ban this dangerous, industrial activity next to their homes and schools last November. The vote was a resounding mandate. It was especially notable because the oil and gas industry raised over half-a-million dollars to defeat the measure, including $30,000 from Wiedenbeck’s employer.

It’s unfortunate that Wiedenbeck finds it necessary to defame Colorado citizens, but it’s understandable. It’s less understandable — deplorable actually — that Governor Hickenlooper continues to dismiss, discredit and even sue mothers, fathers, teachers, farmers, nurses, retirees and business owners in Colorado who do not want fracking next to their homes and schools. These are the voices of reason and common sense.

Sam Schabacker is the Mountain West Region Director for Food and Water Watch.

Our Longmont Condemns the Oil and Gas Industry’s Lawsuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 18, 2012
Contact:  Michael Bellmont
(303) 678-9470

 

Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont Condemns the Oil and Gas Industry’s Lawsuit against Longmont’s Charter Amendment

 

Before the ink was barely dry on the Longmont Charter Amendment, Article XVI, the Longmont Public Health, Safety and Wellness Act, that prohibits hydraulic fracturing next to homes and schools in Longmont, the oil and gas industry has filed a vicious lawsuit against the People of Longmont.  This suit was brought by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association—with brazen support from Governor Hickenlooper—to force the citizens of Longmont to allow a dangerous, industrial activity that threatens the health, safety and property of citizens in Longmont.

On November 6, 2012, over 25,000 people, 60 percent of Longmont voters, representing all demographics and all political philosophies spoke loud and clear that it is their intention to prohibit hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the disposal of attendant wastes within the city limits of Longmont.  The citizens’ constitutionally-guaranteed rights to health, safety, and property shall not be infringed.

The legal assault by COGA is a blatant attempt to undermine the democratic process.  “It is unconscionable that the oil and gas industry has decided to sue the people of Longmont to recklessly endanger our health, safety and property,” said Michael Bellmont, a spokesperson for Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont (Our Longmont).

Our Longmont has assembled a legal team that will assist in a vigorous and unwavering defense of the charter amendment that it placed on the ballot with the concurrence of over 8200 Longmont voters who signed the petition to qualify the measure (nearly 45% more than required).   “We will not be bullied.  We will not permit Governor Hickenlooper, who has publicly stated he will support a lawsuit and the oil and gas industry to put this dangerous, industrial activity next to our homes, schools and public parks,” said Kaye Fissinger of Our Longmont.

Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper is equally culpable in this decision to sue the people of Longmont after publicly declaring he will support any oil and gas company that seeks to sue citizens who want to protect their health, safety and property from fracking.  Any action that he directs the State of Colorado to take against the City of Longmont and the citizens of Longmont will be received with immense animosity and will carry a heavy political price.  Hickenlooper took an oath to represent the people, NOT the oil and gas industry.

Longmont Charter Amendment Advances to Ballot

Today, Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont (Our Longmont) announced that its charter amendment, the Longmont Public Health, Safety and Wellness Act, has qualified for the November ballot. The Longmont City Clerk, has declared that Our Longmont’s signatures are “sufficient” to place the Public Health, Safety and Wellness Act, before the voters on November 6, 2012. In doing so, Longmont will be the first city in Colorado to vote on banning the controversial oil and gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

“Today is a historic day for the City of Longmont and for the State of Colorado as Longmont leads the way to prohibit fracking within city limits,” said Michael Bellmont, a member of Our Longmont. “Fracking threatens our constitutional rights to protect our health, safety and property. We believe Longmont citizens have the right to decide whether this dangerous and destructive practice should take place next to their houses and their children’s schools.”

In early June, Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont launched a petition drive to amend the city’s charter with the support of Food & Water Watch. In order to qualify for the ballot, 5,704 signatures of Longmont registered voters are required. With the dedication and hard work of nearly 100 volunteers, members of Our Longmont submitted over 8,200 signatures to the Longmont city clerk on July 20, 2012.

“The democratic process is alive and well in Longmont despite threats from the State of Colorado and the oil and gas industry to deny our city and its residents local control. Longmont citizens emphatically support their right to vote on whether or not fracking should take place next to their homes, schools and reservoirs,” Bellmont said.

“Our Longmont is a grassroots organization of Longmont citizens who believe that every citizen has the constitutional right to health, safety and wellness and that they are entitled to a voice in the guarantee of those rights. We are your neighbors, friends, and co-workers. We are business owners. We are retirees. We are mothers and fathers. We are ordinary Longmont citizens,” said Bellmont.

The state of Colorado is attempting to sue the city of Longmont over its oil and gas regulations. This is a blatant attempt by Governor Hickenlooper, an outspoken cheerleader for the oil and gas industry, to strip local control from Longmont so that his oil and gas friends drill next to houses, schools and parks in Longmont.

Longmont area native and Food & Water Watch’s Mountain Region Director Sam Schabacker has been supporting the efforts of Our Longmont. “Food & Water Watch is honored to help Our Longmont in its commitment to protect the Longmont community’s constitutional right to health, safety and welfare,” said Schabacker. “The actions that Our Longmont has taken are indeed trailblazing. If the Public Health, Safety and Wellness Act is passed by Longmont voters in November, Longmont will be the first community in Colorado to ban fracking,” Schabacker said.

Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, is a group of concerned citizens from throughout Longmont. We believe that Longmont has a right to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of our community. Our goal is to preserve the quality of life in our exceptional city by protecting the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens. By so doing we will preserve our economic vitality, our home values, our water, parks, wildlife, lakes, trails, streams, open space, and recreational areas for ourselves and future generations.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume are safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Oil and gas industry ignores safety

Most of the natural gas industry has turned its back on reasonable public health and environmental protections, and government oversight and enforcement needs to rebalance the equation.

As one of America’s oldest and largest environmental organizations, the Sierra Club’s oil and natural gas policies have evolved as we have learned more about adverse effects on our health and environment, as science evolves, and as we identify operational failures by both the government and industry.

The harms caused by the entire process of producing oil and natural gas must end. Despite claims to the contrary, groundwater contamination caused by drilling and fracking practices is prevalent and must be brought under control.

In February, Shane Davis, the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter Oil & Gas Research Manager, announced statistics on a sampling of 1,000 spill reports from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) website, dated after 2008. Davis stated, “We know that in Colorado, 43 percent of all spills contaminate groundwater, and 100 percent of all spills contaminate soils with toxins like deadly benzene, ethylene, toluene and xylene. There are horrific volumes of toxic and radioactive liquids that are never recovered from groundwater and soil.”

Compounding the problem of spills, drilling and fracking operations are running in the heart of Colorado communities. We are alarmed that state and local governments continue to allow heavy industrial activities as close as 350 feet to occupied residences. The industry’s operations are far from Best Management Practices (BMPs), due to their inherent failure rates. Overturning the numerous federal exemptions would be the first step in implementing BMPs for the oil and gas industry.

The Colorado School of Public Health states that people living within a half-mile radius from active oil and gas production suffer a greater risk for health complications and illness. If a resident complains of industrial odors to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, they often take 48 hours to respond, allowing the pollution to dissipate, eliminating the chance to properly investigate the report, and offering no answers for the homeowner. Some dangerous vapors are not even detectable by the human nose. There are no studies on the health impacts of drilling pad air toxins, and we agree with The Denver Post editorial board that comprehensive health impact studies are needed. In the meantime, Coloradans are exposed, yet unstudied, guinea pigs.

How do Colorado families protect their health and safety if an accident occurs next to their home or children’s school? We believe this hazardous industrial activity must not continue to be exempt from human and environmental health protections, or allowed to operate next door to homes with growing children, elderly people, and other vulnerable populations.

The Sierra Club holds COGCC accountable in its mission, part of which states, “Responsible development results in … the prevention and mitigation of adverse environmental impacts.” COGCC can no longer be allowed to fail in this mission. The commission, the governor, and the industry should not be publicly defending the impacts of drilling that uses fracking. They should be mandating protection over profit. Every day we hear more about families being unable to drink their water due to fracking.

Colorado needs to move forward with our abundant, clean, inexpensive, healthy, jobs-generating, domestic, and renewable energy supplies. Because of the hazards created by production and consumption of coal, oil and natural gas, we need to move beyond these fuel sources as expeditiously as possible. Natural gas is a bridge fuel to further harming the planet, including our local environment and human health.

Rushing ahead to drill and burn more oil and natural gas while allowing the industry to operate in secrecy with inadequate protections will continue to harm people and wildlife, squander clean water, air and soil, and slow the development of cleaner forms of energy. We must act now for a better energy future.

Joshua Ruschhaupt is director of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter. Other members of the Oil & Gas Team contributed to this commentary.  Reprinted with permission from the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter.