Tag Archive for Wattenberg Field

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.

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.