Tag Archive for TOP Operating

LongmontROAR event plays to packed house

A huge shout-out to all who attended and to all who assisted in making “The Truth about Fracking” an enormous success!
The event was held at Trail Ridge Middle School in Longmont on Sunday, February 26, 2011 with an official count of 275 souls in attendance. The overflow crowd found people sitting on nearby stairs and looking on from the floor above the presentation area.

This venue was chosen because only a few hundred feet from the school is the Rider Well. The operator, TOP Operating, has failed repeatedly to mitigate a multi-year history of benzene leaks and contamination. Astonishingly, before the operator placed a fence around the well, children would play on the tanks in this highly contaminated area that has registered benzene levels as high as 100 times the designated safe level of exposure.

Leading off the event was a powerful presentation by research biologist Shane Davis of the Sierra Club, Poudre Canyon Group. The factual material was drawn directly from the website of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The power point presentation covered a wide area, including an explanation of how horizontal drilling and fracking is accomplished, the chemicals used in the fracking fluid, the scope of drilling in Colorado, to name only a few areas.

Despite what the oil and gas industry and the COGCC frequently state, Colorado has a questionable, if not poor, record on inspection and mitigation. As Davis presented from COGCC data, there are approximately 47,000 active wells in Colorado and approximately 80,000 abandoned wells. Only 17 inspectors are staffed to cover inspections that are meant to occur yearly. That amounts to nearly 8,000 wells per inspector, a physical impossibility. COGCC depends on the operators to follow the rules. We know from experience that without supervision, regulations mean little. We also know that the “honor system” does not work in our current national climate, if it ever did.

Weston Wilson, retired Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) environmental engineer, spoke following Davis. Wilson was the EPA whistleblower on the dangers of fracking. He testified before Congress and was featured in the Academy Award winning documentary Gasland.

Wilson spoke to the current conventional belief about natural gas as a clean energy source that will serve as a bridge fuel to a future of renewable energy. But natural gas is only “clean” when the analysis is limited to the burning of the gas. When taken in totality, from drilling to consumption, natural gas is actually as dirty as coal. This is the result of the methane that leaks into the atmosphere when the gas is released to the surface. Methane is several times more damaging to the upper ozone layer than carbon dioxide and also is a major contributor to ground level ozone that puts all of us, especially children, the elderly, and those with compromised respiratory systems, at risk. A recently released study shows that there is higher pollution in Erie, Colorado, from methane caused by drilling than there is in Houston, Texas, and Pasadena, California. Both of those cities have a long and documented history of unhealthy ozone levels.

Phil Doe, former head of the policy office for the administration of water law in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s water operations, concluded the professional presentations. Doe spoke about the excessive amounts of water required for fracking in a state that is legally over-committed in water allocation contracts. Typical consolidated drilling pads cover 10 acres with eight wells each. Five million gallons of water are required for each fracked well. The water used in this heavily industrialized activity is lost forever to the hydrologic cycle. It will never be used as drinking water, to bathe, to irrigate agricultural areas or for any other life-supporting purpose. The human uses of water just mentioned return about 50% to the hydrologic cycle.

The produced water, as it is known, is occasionally treated and reused for fracking, but is much more frequently deposited underground in what are known as “waste injection wells.” These wells are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency with enforcement designated to the states, and are known as Class 2 wells. Yet there are 600 wells in Colorado that are not designated as Class 2, which begs the question of adequate regulation and oversight.

Those whose lives have already been disrupted by oil and gas drilling and fracking provided the human perspective to the invasion that is coming to Longmont and Boulder County by the “mother lode” of oil and drilling quests.

Chris Porzuczek lives near Union Reservoir. His home is 350’ from a proposed consolidated drill site that is 50’ from his property line. Porzuczek has an 18-month-old son and fears for his health and safety with drilling and its threats so close. Rod Brueske lives just east of Weld County Road 1 on the Boulder County side. For Brueske, the damage is neither theoretical nor anticipated. It is in the here and now. He and his family have had to endure not only the threats to health but the 24-hour non-stop of lights and noise that have often forced them to rent hotel rooms.

Members of the audience were provided with index cards in order for them to write down their questions. The cards were collected throughout the presentation. Following the speakers, Shane Davis conducted the Q & A. There were more questions that there was time to address all of them. Even so, the event extended beyond its advertised hour and a half and only concluded around 4:15 PM. Those who didn’t get their questions answered will have them addressed on this site.

LongmontROAR again wishes to thank all of those who took time out from their Sunday afternoon to inform themselves about the issues surrounding oil and gas drilling and fracking.

We ask again that you, as well as your friends and neighbors, contact your Longmont city council members and request that they extend the existing moratorium for an additional six months, rather than the planned extension of only two months.

We must get things right. Once the bores begin penetrating the ground there will be little that can be done. This is a case where there will be no do-overs. Time is needed to make change happen, the right change, the best change.

The future of our homes and families and the character of our city depend on your action and your voice.

Oil & Gas “clowns” — hubris not humorous

It was a three-ring circus at the Longmont Planning and Zoning meeting on Wednesday, February 15. Industry clowns, COGCC Attorney, Jake Matter and COGA’s Schuller were juggling their corporate supremacy balls as they told us: 1) we are preempted as a City to do anything to regulate gas drilling — plus we “must” accept the COGCC rules; 2) we have “misperceptions” about how the oil and gas industry operates, and, by the way, “we need to be corrected.” Billion-dollar corporation, Anadarko, sent an emissary from Texas to assure us that they have our best interests in mind. However, this person was paid to fly out and feed propaganda to our Planning and Zoning Commission. Top Operating defended cleaning up the leaking Rider Well next to Trail Ridge Middle School. The Times-Call reported that Well had benzene levels 100 times the State level. With benzene levels that high, it doesn’t appear to be cleaned up.

COGCC says we can’t ban open pits. Do you understand the implications of living next to an open pit? It is described in Theo Colborn’s video, “What you need to know about Natural Gas Drilling.” The industry blows wastewater infused with toxic chemicals into the air to be evaporated — but you better watch out if you are downwind! Children are especially vulnerable when exposed to these toxins.

The P & Z decision to accept flawed regulations that won’t protect the health and well being of the citizens while voting to recommend a moratorium extension seems contradictory. What I heard at this meeting was a repeat performance of arrogant industry insiders who wish to put us under their big thumbs.

Our rights as citizens are being trampled by corporate supremacists and by our corporate municipality. We should be exploring ways to ban fracking and stop this three-ring circus once and for all.

Stamp 2 Well Near Union Reservoir Contaminated

3 out of 7 wells on Longmont Open Space are contaminated.

TOP Operating’s Stamp 2 gas well is located on the western edge of Union Reservoir. It is 506 feet from the water. It is approximately a mile from TOP’s contaminated Rider 1 well, near Trail Ridge Middle School.

The Stamp 2 gas well is contaminated by toxic petrochemicals above State regulatory standards.

Last year, in January 2011, the City of Longmont received a “Limited Site Investigation,” completed by Terracon Consultants on the Bogott Property, where the Stamp 2 is located. The Bogott property is now owned by the City of Longmont. It is part of Longmont’s Open Space at Union Reservoir.

Regulatory limits are placed on petrochemicals because of their strong toxicity.

The Stamp 2 site environmental investigation reported Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons at 1970 mg/kg in the soil, which is almost 4 times the Colorado Oil & Gas Commission regulatory standard for soil of 500 mg/kg.

Soil contamination at the Stamp 2 by benzene is .029 mg/kg, almost 6 times above the regulatory limit, 0.005 mg/kg.

Ethylbenzene levels are 10 times the statutory level; Xylenes are 340 times the “safe” limit; gasoline range hydrocarbons are 38 times allowable levels.

These readings were from samples taken near the wellhead.

Near the Stamp 2 tank battery, ethylbenzene levels were 20 times the statutory limit; xylenes almost 3 times; and gasoline range hydrocarbons almost 20 times statutory limit.

The Investigation found that the soil has “dark gray petroleum staining and odor” 3.5 feet deep, beside the wellhead,

From 4 to 8 feet deep, the soil is “dark gray-gray, weathering decreasing with depth, petroleum gray stain and odor, slightly moist.”

There are no ground water monitoring wells at Stamp 2. Terracon pushed a 1-inch temporary PVC pipe 8 feet into the ground on December 17, 2010. No ground water was found, at that time of year. Nearby residents report that ground water is encountered at depths of 9-10 feet, 1600 feet from the water’s edge.

Ground water at Stamp 2, so close to Union Reservoir, and now on City Open Space, needs to be monitored and tested more carefully. Engineered groundwater monitoring wells, are the best method for monitoring ground water at oil and gas wells. The COGCC and the City must require that TOP install, monitor and report to the COGCC and the City, accurate reports on the ground water between Stamp 2 and Union Reservoir.

During January 2012, activity was observed at Rider 1 and Stamp 2. Bulldozers, trucks, and pumps were seen at the sites.

At Stamp 2 in late January 2012, a truck with high pressure hoses was observed. The tank battery was being washed down. The wash water, detergents, petroleum wastes and contaminates were not contained, and now leach toward Union Reservoir, as the only protection around the tank battery is an unlined clay berm.

Terracon recommends that the City contact TOP Operating “to pursue remedial activities of the petroleum impacted soil and groundwater above regulatory standards.” The Oil & Gas Commission should also be notified.

There are other TOP operated wells on the Boggot and Sherwood properties, now owned as open space by Longmont. Of the 7 wells where Terracon took soil and groundwater samples, three wells have contamination levels over COGCC limits.

Don’t rush drilling decisions

Editor’s Note: The following address was presented to the Longmont City Council on November 15, 2011. The address was authored by Darcy Juday, Vice Chair of the Water Board, who has 20 years experience in oil and gas exploration. It was presented and endorsed by Kaye Fissinger, Chair of the Board of Environmental Affairs.

Short-term profit, long-term damage

Drilling in Wattenberg Field is coming to the edges of Longmont; and if the first wells are successful, it could continue west into the heart of our city.

Now we have the unique opportunity to consider the effects this will have on Longmont’s livability. If we rush into this unprepared, we may have regrets for 20 years to come. Other nearby communities are also assessing the impact of large scale drilling within their boundaries. Longmont should take advantage of the experience of those communities.

Council has met with Weld County and heard of their positive experience; but that’s been mostly in rural areas. We should also hear from Boulder County which has had drilling on Open Space, and from Arapahoe County which is about to experience a drilling boom. Other counties and cities are drawing up their own regulations. We should learn about what they are considering. We should learn what other counties and communities are proposing to add to their regulations, regulations that likely may go beyond those that Longmont currently has in place.

We should ask for air pollution controls, pre- and post- drilling water sampling, enclosed drilling mud circulation, visual barriers, and landscaping in our parks. Those are big picture items.

We should also know about the operating company. Weld County has had good experience with large companies but problems with smaller ones. This smaller company, TOP Operating, has drilled on Longmont property before. Did they perform as they said they would?

And lastly, our investigation should be a joint effort with Council, Water Board, Parks and Recreation and the Environmental Board in any studies, meetings and presentations. Deliberate study can prevent future regrets.

Who’s behind the drilling curtain?

My name is Chris Porzuczek.

This is a typical well

Fracking leaves scars, above and below the surface.

I live on East County Line Rd. next to Union Reservoir. TOP Drilling Company has submitted a proposal to partner with The City of Longmont for approval to drill and frack 80-100 gas wells along the West and South side of Union Reservoir. The City of Longmont would like us to believe that TOP Drilling wants this. However, Longmont owns the surface and mineral rights for the Open Space between my house and Union Reservoir, where at least one drilling pad of 16 wells is proposed. At this site, TOP only owns the lease to drill IF the property owners want the drilling to be done. In this case, that is the City. The City is set to profit millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars from this one drill site. This goes against all of the Comprehensive Plans Longmont has in place. That means City wants to keep this as quiet as possible. The City has the votes from council-elect to put this through and they will. The ONLY way to stop this is if the Citizens of Longmont do not allow it to happen. Of course, the City will tell you there is nothing they can do but it is a lie. Let me give you some recent history. Longmont has, in the past, stopped drilling and fracking during the development of Sandstone Ranch and Ute Creek Golf Course. On the Ute Creek property, TOP owned the mineral rights. When TOP submitted proposals to drill, Longmont declared eminent domain and issued compensation for those mineral rights. The City was ordered to pay TOP less than half of what TOP had asked for compensation of those mineral rights. The City doesn’t even have to go through all those hoops to stop them this time, because they own the mineral and surface rights behind my property. The City composed the drilling maps and proposed to TOP where they want the drilling locations. In other words, they are going into business on open space property for the profit. The plans and maps came from our planning and zoning, knowing the majority of those currently serving our council have been accepting thousands of dollars from TOP during the last two elections. The pieces are in place to get this project rubber stamped through council. Combine this with a smokescreen of huge profits and there is nobody to stop them.

Personally, I purchased a property adjacent to Longmont Open Space and Union Reservoir in 2003. My wife and I planned on raising a family at this location for the next 20 years. I cannot in good conscience raise my family 350’ from 16 fracked gas wells, which also sit in the middle of a 3 square mile area with up to a 100 proposed wells. I WILL NOT wonder if my 14 month old baby is going to have cancer or other respiratory concerns 10 years from now. So, my family and business will be forced to move, with a property value that will probably be cut in half. That’s right The City of Longmont is set to gain millions by putting this well on Open Space, minimum distance required by law from my house. My loss of business will cost 5 local jobs, whose families live and go to school in Longmont. I am not here to say poor me. There are 9 other families that live here. They will be equally destroyed because they have to move for health reasons or cannot raise their livestock, and their properties are half the value. There are four small business owners among us as well. This will cost 15-20 local jobs lost as we relocate. Here’s the kicker. There is another consolidated pad of wells proposed adjacent to Trail Ridge middle school. Fracked gas wells next to the Trail Ridge middle school! There may have been an existing well before the school was built, but to allow a lease for more drilling and fracking next to a school. Are they nuts? I would not send my kids there knowing this. Would you? I believe they call this the cost of doing business. But, I don’t think Longmont’s cost of doing business should come at the expense of health, environment, local jobs, and property values.

Disgusting, isn't it?

There will be many of these 'fracking pools'

Let’s touch base on those that are FOR fracking. The Oil & Gas industry, with it’s supporters, fear monger that this is the way to secure our homeland by not being dependent on foreign fuel. They will tell you they have rights, they need to feed their families, it‘s safe, and everyone‘s doing it along the Eastern plains of Colorado. So, it must be OK right? Wrong. The Oil & Gas industry has had accidents and has admitted that cancers, respiratory problems, water contamination, and tremors are all side effects of doing business in their industry. They have several ways to deflect the criticisms. They blame the companies that have cut corners. You know, just a few bad apples giving the industry a bad name. They’ll make sure you know they have to follow strict governmental guidelines. Yeah right! The absolute apex of the problem is the people that wrote the laws and guidelines have special interests to keep this Oil & Gas machine fueled. In most cases those in to he industry will just dismiss skeptics as uneducated alarmists. Newsflash! They have no idea of long term effects of Fracking either! Safe until proven harmful….The damages caused are just coincidental….Show me proof. This is the mentality of the industry. But, for me, there are too many SEVERE health and environmental effects, locally and nationwide, popping up next to these fracked wells, to put my family at risk. I am not waiting around to find out the long term effects on my kids growing up 350‘ from 16 fracked gas wells.

My neighbors and I recently met with three individuals representing TOP Drilling. Their rep, geologist, and president. Their 70 year old Geologist CHUCKLED at me, when I asked how this is going to affect us in 100 years. That’s correct, he CHUCKLED, as if it does not matter because he will not be around. He did not find it quite as funny when I rephrased the question, pointing at my son, asking him how it will affect my son when he is your age. They stated they cannot speculate what the long term effects would be. They cannot speculate, because they do not know. I can assure you, they will be doing just the minimum to keep their costs low, profits high. Fracking is new technology and not regulated as much as they want you to think. As of now, they do not need to disclose all chemicals used during the fracking procedure.

Given the severity of this issue, myself and neighbors spoke at the Open Forum at the City Council on Nov 8th to bring awareness to the subject. This issue desperately needs to be heard by the citizens of Longmont. The Times-Call had their opportunity to do so, but instead gave us one misquoted sentence. They quoted these proposed wells are 350’ from property boundaries. This is a significant misquote, as they plan on putting them 350’ from our back doors, not property boundaries. When I contacted four different people at Times-Call about their misquote, they did not even reply! I do not understand why a local paper would have such apathy towards this issue. This is their back yard also. Unfortunately they would rather write commentary about Santa Claus shortages on the other side of the country. The more the citizens of Longmont know what is going on, the more input the city can receive before this gets a vote. There are some serious long term issues at stake that reach far beyond just noise or light pollution. I urge the citizens of Longmont to get out there and spread the word that we do not want this industry in our open space.

Thank You,
Chris Porzuczek

Drilling/fracking before Council tonite (Tuesday)

Here’s an interview done by KGNU with Kaye Fissinger.

Those who are following the issues of drilling (and fracking) oil and gas on City of Longmont property will want to attend the City Council meeting tomorrow Tuesday, November 15th. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM.

Appearing before the council will be representatives from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (industry trade group), the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (the state agency that authorizes oil and gas development), representatives from Boulder and Weld counties, and Phillip Barber (an attorney who specializes in oil and gas hired by the city).

TOP Operating, who owns mineral rights beneath Union Reservoir and other city properties, has approached the City of Longmont for a conditional use permit to drill on city-owned properties. Five drill pads are under consideration: two on the west side of Union Reservoir, one at Sandstone Ranch, one on the “Sherwood property” at County Road 20-1/2 and one known as Evans #8 (somewhat near Sandstone). A surface use agreement is intended to be a companion to the conditional use permit.

The city adopted oil and gas regulations in 2001. Those standards include well and production site setbacks from occupied buildings and public right-of-way, production site containment, visual impacts and aesthetics, access road design and maintenance, noise mitigation, floodplain compliance, oil and gas transport, air quality, wildlife mitigation, signs, screening and landscaping.

Some of the Colorado Commission’s answers to Frequently Asked Questions is extremely bothersome. The following is a sampling.

    • The COGCC’s authority to prevent and mitigate significant environmental harm does not negate its obligation to encourage development of the oil and gas resource.
    • As long as there is severed mineral interest ownership in Colorado law which protects the property rights of mineral rights holders to access their mineral estate, and as long as the COGCC’s statute charges the COGCC with promotion of oil and gas development, the COGCC will be limited in its ability to satisfy surface owners or to stop oil and gas development.
    • Cases of public safety impacts from oil and gas operations are extremely rare and generally non-existent in Colorado
    • The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provides for a defined “cumulative impacts” analysis for proposed projects classified as “federal actions”.  Colorado law does not provide for a NEPA “cumulative impacts” analysis for projects proposed on private or state-owned lands.  The COGCC can consider cumulative impacts within the limits of its authority under state law.

Within the city’s Municipal Code, there may be opportunity for greater protections than are expressed in some of the answers provided by the Commission.  Specifically, the city code states, “To the maximum extent practicable, a well site and a production site shall be located away from prominent natural features such as distinctive rock and land forms, vegatative patterns, river crossings, city-owned and city-designated open space areas, and other designated landmarks.

Considerably more details from the city’s municipal code can be found in the packet  for tomorrow’s meeting.

This issue is extremely complex.  Securing the best possible outcome will require genuine environmental concern from the sworn city council, stewardship and commitment from city staff, specialized legal counsel willing to push the envelope as far as legally possible, and outside expertise willing to stand up for the needs of Longmont residents who strongly object to drilling and fracking, particularly on Longmont Open Space.

“If it isn’t in your backyard now, it could be.”

Frack You Longmont

Fracking near Longmont? It's no fairy tale.

A substantive article appeared in the Business Section of the Sunday Denver Post under the title of “Oil Greases Land Rush.” 

Because oil and gas drilling is coming to Longmont’s Union Reservoir, the Sandstone Ranch area, the Sherwood Open Space area at County Road 20.5 and an area known as Evans #8, it is important that the Longmont community learn as much as possible about what this will mean to our quality of life.

Free Range Longmont has already begun coverage of this issue.  We will continue to provide you with information from a number of perspectives. 

Excerpts from the article referenced above appear below.  The excerpts were chosen to serve essentially as “Cliff Notes” on the why – and why now – of what some are referring to as the next “mother lode.”

At the 2010 City Council retreat, our current mayor raised the issue of “mineral rights” that might be owned by Longmont, asking if they had been pursued.  The subject garnered no further public discussion or visibility.  We are only now learning that the city was approached in June of this year by TOP Operating to approve a conditional use permit for drilling operations on city property. We do not know what conversations may have taken place between Mayor Bryan Baum and his 2009 and 2011 campaign supporters prior to beginning the conditional use permit negotiating process. Longmont citizens should demand full disclosure from the mayor, members of city council and members of city staff.

“Oil Greases Land Rush”  by Mark Jafee, The Denver Post

Between 2008 and 2011, leasing activity in six Front Range counties — Larimer, Weld, Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and El Paso — more than doubled, with 8,100 leases filed in the 12 months ending Aug. 30, according to county

Propelling the rush is the discovery of oil in the Niobrara — a geological formation sitting more than 6,000 feet below the Front Range.  Most of the leasing and drilling has been focused on Weld County — the better known and most-promising part of the Niobrara

The strategy of the companies and speculators has been to assemble large land positions in the formation.

In this highly competitive and often secretive game, land companies working for drillers try to assemble parcels and negotiate leases. Often leases aren’t filed in the oil company’s name.

The stealth and shifting corporate decisions have left property owners confused and frustrated.

“Leasing is highly competitive,” said John Dill, a Denver- based spokesman for Chesapeake. “We often do mass mailing just to get the word out.”

The approach isn’t that surprising in a competitive market, said Neil Ray, president of the National Association of Royalty Owners’ Rocky Mountain Chapter.  “Sometimes they are just testing the waters,” he said. “They’re trying to determine if it will be easy or difficult to get leases.”

The larger companies have now built fiefdoms along the Front Range.

EOG has 220,000 acres, mostly in northern Weld County, with a target of completing 45 wells in 2011, according to a company presentation.

Noble Energy more than doubled its holdings to 840,000 net acres in 18 months and plans to drill 85 wells, Chuck Davidson, the company’s chief executive, told investors in September.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., based in suburban Houston, has a net 900,000 acres in Colorado — much of it from acquiring Union Pacific and Kerr-McGee interests. The company is aiming to drill more than 40 wells this year, according to Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen.  [Anadarko Petroleum has hired Cougar Land Services to conduct seismic surveys to locate additional wells.  They have requested permits from the city to conduct these surveys on city-owned properties.  Unlike drilling, the city has the right to deny permission for these surveys.]

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake has amassed 800,000 acres in Colorado and Wyoming.

The top drillers and number of permits for the 12-month period ending Aug. 30:

Weld County

Mineral Resources: 1,018
EOG Resources: 594
Diamond Resources: 483

Larimer County

Marathon Oil: 50
Strata Oil & Gas: 45
Prospect Energy: 44

Nikki Stansfield, who lives in a suburban-style Larimer County development, persuaded neighbors to hire a lawyer to deal with a driller…. Still, concerned that state rules don’t provide enough protection to homeowners, Stansfield is seeking a meeting with Gov. John Hickenlooper.”The lesson is,” Stansfield said, “if it isn’t in your backyard now, it could be.”

Read the entire article here.

Safeguards needed for oil and gas drilling

Editor’s note: Mr. Cunningham’s commentary was first seen in the Denver Post and is fully reposted here with the author’s permission. His commentary is especially relevant inasmuch as the City of Longmont is preparing to allow drilling on Longmont’s Open Space.

Only a nitwit would think this is a good idea.

Fracking? This Close? We Need to Stop This.

As a Colorado resident, I have always enjoyed getting outside, exploring the outdoors in the Rocky Mountain National Park and breathing in the fresh air. However, that clean air is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Heavy oil and gas drilling is already spewing millions of tons of harmful pollutants Colorado’s air and it’s getting worse.

The oil and natural gas industries are dumping dangerous pollutants like methane and sulfur gases and benzene into our air, causing serious health problems ranging from asthma attacks to cancer and premature death. Drilling has increased in the growing front range suburban communities in Weld County and all across the western part of Colorado. But it’s not just here. Millions of families around the country are becoming increasingly exposed to these deadly pollutants.

Few people realize that the natural gas industry is currently exempt from the Clean Air Act. This allows natural gas companies to dump massive amounts of pollution into the air every day.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The Environmental Protection Agency​ can stop this deadly air pollution that is suffocating communities from Parachute and Rifle to Greenly, and across the country. For the first time ever, the EPA has proposed cost-effective pollution safeguards to close industry loopholes and clean up toxic air pollution from oil and gas production. These safeguards would cut methane pollution, asthma-causing smog and other hazardous air pollutants by nearly 4 million tons per year.

It is not surprising that the oil and gas industry is lobbying heavily against these proposed protections.

Yet these safeguards will benefit everyone – including industry. Strong air pollution protections will help oil and gas companies capture gas that currently leaks into our air during production, saving businesses an estimated $30 million each year. Cleaning up industry practices and our air just makes sense.

The EPA recently opened a comment period to ask the public what it thinks of their recently proposed pollution protections, and on Wednesday they’ll be in Denver to hear from residents affected by air pollution from oil and gas drilling. We all need to tell the EPA that we want these air safeguards to be as strong as possible.

Here in Colorado, I want children to be able to grow and raise their own families without worrying about breathing dangerous air pollution. That’s why I urge everyone in and around Denver to join us as we fight to clean up the oil and gas industry and protect clean air for our families.

Kirk Cunningham is co-chair of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Conservation Committee.

American Tradition Partnership again targets Longmont

With now-Secretary of State Scott Gessler as lead attorney, in 2009 Western Tradition Partnership filed suit against Longmont’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.  Western Tradition Partnership also funded the Longmont Leadership Committee who conducted a political campaign that unabashedly lied in order to oust certain council members in 2009 and replace them with members who would promote their radical agenda and who would consistently vote their rabid anti-environmentalism and their absolutism on property rights.

After Bryan Baum, mayor, and his majority won the 2009 election, they directed that the Campaign Practices Act lawsuit be settled, and Gessler was paid $68,500.  Following that the Campaign Practices Act had much, if not most, of its transparency removed.  Only 19 words were changed because of the lawsuit.  The rest of the changes were instituted because the Baum majority wanted those changes.  They were dutifully following the Republican playbook which opposes campaign contribution restrictions and transparency.

Western Tradition Partnership renamed itself American Tradition Partnership.  Even though they are a 501c4 and can’t officially endorse candidates, they have thus far sent out two mailers — one that essentially endorses Bryan Baum and Heath Carroll (at-large) and the other against Sean McCoy and Sarah Levison.

Contrary to the assertion in the mailer, American Tradition Partnership is NOT a local organization.  They were organized first in the state of Montana by two Republican state legislators.  They later registered in Colorado.  However, I have no doubt that there are members of our community, who have had and likely will have business before the city, who have chosen this avenue to contribute sums in excess of the $200/per person candidate campaign limit and to keep those contributions secret.

Under their previous name, Western (now American) Tradition Partnership was taken before the Montana Political Practices Commission for their campaign practices and attacks against Democratic candidates in Montana for the same practices that WTP used in Longmont in 2009 through the Longmont Leadership Committee.

The Montana Political Practices Commission in its ruling effectively called the organization “corrupt.”  The Commission heard testimony from a former employee of Western Tradition Partnership that indicated that the organization promotes itself by telling contributors that their identities will never be known and that some of WTP’s contributions had origins in foreign countries, a violation of U.S. law.

Why all the interest in Longmont from an organization such as American Tradition Partnership?

In Western Tradition Partnership’s 2008  IRS “990” filing , Western Tradition Partnership had $665,725 in contributions.  That was their first year in existence and the only documentation located to date.  These contributions clearly come from the oil, gas and coal industries whose interests are the first priorities of Western/American Tradition Partnership and ultimately motivate other political activities.

During the first decade of the 21st century, Colorado’s state government shifted Democratic after a long history of being Republican.  This change did not facilitate the interests of American Tradition Partnership.  Longmont, a community that Republicans had consistently counted on as a Republican stronghold, was moving Democratic as well.  In order for Republicans to retake control of state government, Longmont needed to be recaptured.

TOP Operating Oil/Gas Drill Sites

Because of advancements in oil and gas extraction technology, it is now possible to retrieve oil and gas that was previously uneconomical to recover.  These techniques include directional and horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  Colorado is among those states that have many of these deposits.  The Wattenberg field is the 10th largest gas field and 13th largest oil field in the nation.  It may come as a surprise that some of these deposits are under property owned by the City of Longmont.  At least 54 of the identified wells are at the edge of or under Union Reservoir itself!

There is a confluence of interest between the supporters of American Tradition Partnership and the developers, builders and real estate interests in Longmont.  And, of course, the Baum majority has an unequivocal ideological alliance with both the anti-environmental and property rights positions of this radical organization.

Citizens and voters of Longmont are losing control of their community.  It has become a pawn in the political games, games by those with large sums of money at their disposal and who will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals.  Ignore what is happening in Longmont at your peril.