Tag Archive for Longmont economic development

O & G will hurt Longmont economic development

Our former leaders, and some current ones, would have us think passage of Question 300 would somehow discourage business from coming here. On the contrary, every local “small” businessperson to whom I’ve spoken about fracking is dead set against it in the City. I am not at liberty to divulge any names, but elected or once elected officials need to think again. If anything were THAT rosy, I need to show them this land in Florida. It’s only wet part of the year, see. And if you trust the governor to rewrite the COGCC rule book after the coming election (up or down), then you’ve just got to look at this bridge I have to sell.

Capitulation to elevated petroleum development may say that Longmont has admitted defeat on the economic development front. While that would not surprise in the current macroeconomic environment, grabbing for any tree in the face of a tsunami isn’t always the best tactic. You could get hit by a boat.

Everything has a cost. Why don’t these “leaders” tell us what those might be? Of course, only the potential benefits get the ink. At least our former city manager has the sense and courage to remind us there could be a downside. And he should know. For many years he watched as local elected “leaders” dreamed schemes that he would somehow have to implement. And that isn’t always easy.

Blind promotion of even a “tested” technology is plainly unwise. It would be advisable to take out some insurance, but after the state’s response to the Lower North Fork wildfire this year (where a state agency was at fault), it seems unlikely anyone will replace a ruined aquifer or a depleted water supply, for starters. We could demand multibillion-dollar bonding from oil and gas operators, but no; that might “discourage business.” Whose?

I’m sure no one opposing local fracking is a wild-eyed, Boulder wannabe communist. My own councilperson works for a statewide business booster organization. My own councilperson works for a statewide business booster organization. I am certain no one opposing local fracking is getting a dime out of his or her stance. I wish someone would ask if the same can be said with regard to former mayors.

Drilling will harm Longmont’s businesses

Much has been said about air and water pollution, damage to roads, noise and light pollution, and in general the dangers of having fracking wells close to homes and schools.

However, there are other matters that the City Council must study and investigate that have hardly received any attention. It has been said that fracking is good for economic development. It seems to me that fracking is actually bad for business in Longmont.

Fracking is the kind of business that drives away most other businesses. Weld County is a fine example. The more wells you drill, the more wells you drill. Longmont strongly relies on retail development for significant sales tax. Business at existing stores will be seriously jeopardized, particularly on the main retail arteries of Hover and Colo. Highway 119. These areas are bordered by vacant lots that offer many opportunities to fulfill setback requirements and are likely to see fracking wells in abundance, with all the industrial traffic and pollution that goes with it.

Name one business that thinks their retail sales would improve if you drilled a fracking well in their parking lot, or put a well 350 feet from their main entrance. Businesses always worry about the impact of construction activity, even if it’s only for a few weeks and improves the roads to their business. The impact of fracking would be far greater and it would be continuous and detrimental. Will the redevelopment of Twin Peaks Mall include a fracking well in the surrounding lots? Who would shop there if it did? Will South Main be subjected to the same treatment? It isn’t just the well construction that would be harmful. As Erie’s current experience shows, the air pollution would jeopardize business throughout Longmont. The City Council needs to generate a thorough investigation of how the business of fracking would impact existing businesses and the plans for development that are in the works. That is, we need a study of the business environment as well as the natural environment, and for the same reasons: to thoroughly understand the possible adverse effects.

And speaking of regulations, how exactly will they function? Even supposing that we arrived at some agreement about suitable regulations, how will these regulations be enforced? At the present time there are only 17 inspectors in the entire state! We’d be lucky to see one in Longmont every five years, and then only for a day. At best. A passer-by and someone who was fishing downstream spotted the recent leak at Suncor that contaminated the South Platte in Denver, not inspectors or Suncor personnel. Should Longmont hire an army of fishermen and inquisitive pedestrians to patrol the anticipated 850 wells at full build-out?

The regulations are only as viable as the inspectors who have the responsibility to enforce them. The negligence that we are now seeing concerning the older wells drilled near Longmont residents is probably typical of what we can expect unless a major new plan of inspection is created and fully funded.

Fracking will be a plague in Longmont, not a means of economic growth. Think of how much time and expense have already been put into dealing with this issue. It’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what we are in for if fracking actually gets under way. It will tear this community apart, it will monopolize city staff time and city resources, and it will be an endless drain on Longmont’s budget. The city should investigate these matters fully.