Printed letters, August 8, 2013

The environmentalists and other special-interest groups are trying to influence people through hearsay and fear tactics.

According to a federal study on hydraulic fracturing, there is no evidence that chemicals from the drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers.

The president’s recently appointed EPA director stated, “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracturing process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”

According to a study done by Duke University, drilling fluids were injected more than 8,000 feet below the surface, but were not detected at a depth of 5,000 feet. The potentially dangerous substance stayed about a mile away from surface drinking water.

Maybe some people don’t know Colorado has some of the most stringent safety regulations governing gas and oil drilling in the nation. Let’s trust them.

The North Fork Alternative Plan is not a plan to protect us from potential harm. It is a plan to completely shut down any possible drilling in our area. Since there are no facts to sustain this perceived harm, wouldn’t it be better to consider how drilling provides good-paying jobs and benefits our economies?

I would like to encourage people to get the facts rather than making decisions based on fear and rumor.



Fram’s drilling plans 
may affect air quality

I’m writing in response to The Daily Sentinel’s recent article about the Whitewater drilling project initiated by Fram Operating. Let me compliment the Sentinel for a thorough, informative and comprehensive article. Your reporter did his homework, presenting concerns from many different stakeholders on this issue. However, one factor is not being adequately addressed.

Many people are concerned about fracking and about water pollution, and their concerns are receiving a great deal of attention. What has not received enough attention is the effect this proposed project will have on our air quality.

Having lived in Denver during decades of “the brown cloud,” and then through 11 years of Southern California ozone-alert days, I hoped for better when we moved here 13 years ago. Instead, the local air quality seems to have steadily declined. Month-long temperature inversions in the past two winters have increased the problem.

“Natural factors” — such as blowing dust, fireplaces, agricultural burning and mountain wildfires — already cause the average level of particulate matter in our air to hover just below national air quality standards. In January and February, we violated those standards on 11 days. Monitored ozone levels are also nearing NAAQS limits.

Drilling, particularly in winter, will only exacerbate our air-quality problems. The diesel pumps and engines used at drill sites can pump high levels of pollution into the air, causing both particulate and ozone levels to rise. Travel to and from well sites on C Road south of Palisade, is “proposed for use in winter months,” with projections of up to 31 round-trips a day. In a 10-hour work day, that’s one truck every 20 minutes! The result — more vehicle emissions and dust.

The resulting effects on our air, over a 20-year span, can be disastrous for our local economy, our health and the quality of our lives.


Grand Junction


Common Core assessment 
ignores individual needs

I attended a meeting July 31 in which representatives of the Colorado Department of Education presented Common Core to the Delta County school board. Common Core is a top-down (fed-to-state-to-local school board) bureaucratic structure that eliminates teacher recommendations and experience with each individual child and replaces that with a top-down assessment process.

School Board Member Kathy Svenson pointed out that, in today’s world of computers and the Internet, education should and can be tailored to each individual student. Common Core bucks the future.

School Board Member Pete Blair lamented that parents are not involved in the education process. As a registered volunteer and part of a host family for an exchange student from Poland, I pointed out after the meeting that parents are not empowered and are even discouraged from participation, starting with the prohibition of any public comment at school board meetings.

I contrasted a public school with a church-sponsored school in which members are actually sought out to participate with building funding and maintenance, food preparation and individual tutoring for students who might be falling behind.

Every student is not the same. Svenson pointed out that some students will go on to college and some will enter the workforce right out of high school, and the education process needs to be diverse enough to support both academic and trade outcomes.

To be fair, the state presenters said that Common Core was a floor, not a ceiling, but there can be no doubt that it is a top-down structure.

MIT now has most of its undergraduate and graduate courses available for free online. The future is moving to individualized instruction tailored to each student. I hope Delta County can move in that direction. I want to thank board member Svenson for her leadership in that direction.




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Georgia Hopper states that “environmentalists are using “hearsay and fear tactics” to stop oil and gas development in our county.  I say to Georgia, Please give me a scientifically based peer-reviewed long term study to review, that supports the how oil and gas development cleans the air, is good for ground water and aquifers, supports the health of agricultural soils and promotes the health of humans and wildlife where it takes place.  As a Registered Nurse, having Nursed in the oil and Gas patch in Saudi Arabia; I have cared for Veterans from the first Gulf War (Saddam burned the oil wells), it has been my direct and up front experience that the industry has problems with being responsible for the health and safety issues they face.  If we are to have drilling in Mesa, the public should NOT have to prove the detriments to our environment, but the industry should prove to the public they can do it right.  Parachute Creek is not a good example of neighborly responsibility. This community needs to have this conversation.  If Fram does not do this right, Fram as a Norwegian company, can withdraw and disappear in case of a disaster. What will those jobs be worth to this community then.  It only takes one shortcut too many (Exxon Valdez); one worker too tired (Buzzard Creek); one piece of equipment not in good working order(Parachute Creek); one wrong decision; one action taken under financial pressure (Deep Horizon) and there is no turning the clock back.  Nancy Angle wrote a logical and reasonable ask: preservation of our Air shed.  She is a retired math instructor from CMU, and someone changed her math on her letter.  A “round trip” is 2 passes of any one point by trucks thereby those trucks will pass by that one point once every 10 minutes not 20 minutes.  Someone at the paper changed it to 20 minutes.  Is that an innocent mistake?  This county needs this meeting tonight and others in the near future. We are a community that has to have this conversation NOW.  Come to the meeting tonight Georgia.

In response to Georgia Hopper’s letter:
This is called “quibbling”, meaning you state something (or what is technically believed particular for the case), but it avoids the complete picture of actual happenings. It tries to take a small segment as representative of the complete event.
When a statement as, “fracking has not been shown to contaminate an aquifer” it is couched in hidden meaning with many facets. To list:
1. The industry (and anyone repeating this statement) is narrowing the meaning of fracking to the operation on the gathering side of the cement seal on the production piping.
2. Cement seal failure, allowing by-pass of gas, fracking fluid, and formation water into the annulus surrounding the production pipe is excluded from being due to fracking. It is because the cement was designed to hold against fracking pressure and if it didn’t it wasn’t the “fault” the fracking, it was poor mix, surrounding formation failure, poor workmanship, or anything but not the high hydraulic pressure of the fracking.

The EPA has made careful selection of certain select failures only, when water has been contaminated. The EPA refused to investigate the Divide Creek contamination in Garfield County, Colorado as an example. Found contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming, but has backed off and stepped away from in-depth testing under political and industry pressures. Yielded, ignored findings and backed off in the Dimock, Pennsylvania water contaminations.
There has been no testing of cases “settled” by industry with complete gag orders on people receiving those gag orders. Duke University has made several studies other than the one cited. In those involving shallower depths of drilling and fracking, they found increased methane in wells, as did studies in Garfield County by Dr. Thyne and URS Engineering.
In consideration of the overall picture, it has been documented water contamination has occurred, the quibbling is about whether it was the hydraulic pressure of fracking that caused it or well building technique and failure. Even if it were only well failure, as Dr. Anthony Ingraffea has shown, 6% of wells fail immediately, 60% fail within 20 years, and all will fail eventually.

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