Printed letters, Jan. 9, 2013
On Dec. 31, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission staff released a proposal to increase the distance between well sites and buildings to 500 feet anywhere. For wells within 1,000 feet of a building, operators would be required to notify neighbors and address dust, noise, odor and lighting.
Operators would also be required to hold a hearing before the commission for any well to be located fewer than 1,000 feet away from high-occupancy buildings, such as schools or hospitals.
Hearings resumed this week in Denver, giving stakeholders and citizens little time to react to this latest proposal.
While some (including Commission Director Matt Lepore) view this as a meet-in-the-middle gesture to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders, many others don’t agree. Coloradans should not be made to sacrifice our public health and communities at the altar of oil and gas development. Heavy industry does not belong in residential areas, near schools or businesses.
I believe setbacks should be 1,000 feet everywhere. This is a safety issue, as well as a public health issue. Current setbacks (150 feet in rural areas and 350 feet in urban areas) are dangerous. Explosions, leaks and spills have happened and will happen again. Rigs have tipped over and will tip over again.
Lepore admits the 500-foot setbacks aren’t meant to address health concerns and never mentions safety, water and air quality.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the Colorado Petroleum Association sought to block citizen testimony at the eleventh hour and demanded scientific evidence. Yet scientific studies such as the one done for Battlement Mesa and the Mamm Creek groundwater study that support citizens’ testimonies have been suppressed and never brought to the table for discussion.
It’s time for Gov. John Hickenlooper to be a leader and require the oil and gas industry to adopt rational, common-sense protections for our citizens and the environment.
Anti-fracking film benefits from OPEC member’s money
Only in the United States can the United Arab Emirates be a major financial contributor to a Hollywood film, “Promised Land,” that sheds unproven, poor light on the oil and gas industry.
The United Arab Emirates is laughing all the way to the bank. Not only can it support propaganda to steer us into further dependence on foreign oil and gas, but it will be paid handsomely for it.
Ten rules could allay concern about energy development
The premise that the public must accept everything the gas industry demands is flawed. The people have the right to demand high stewardship standards for all activities on our lands. Were the following rules implemented, most people would likely be mollified:
1) 100 percent transparency from operators on all processes, including full disclosure of all chemicals used.
2) Posting of substantial bonds prior to permitting anywhere in the state.
3) Swift, severe penalties for any pollution resulting from extractive activities on public lands, with a permanent moratorium on further permitting to any offender. Fail once and you’re done. Period. No exceptions.
4) Better capture of royalties with a significant percentage mitigating damage to communities and infrastructure.
5) Improved approaches to drilling near schools, homes, water supplies and critical infrastructure. A mere 350 feet is senseless and irresponsible.
6) Permanent moratoria on drilling in obviously special places. Food production regions, watersheds, areas with active aquifers, beautiful landscapes and critical wildlife habitat must be exempt from resource extraction activities.
7) Better capture of methane and other hydrocarbons from the wellhead.
8) Better wellpad wash procedures, limiting air or ground releases of methylene chloride and other organics.
9) Strong controls to limit fracking in drought-affected watersheds.
10) Assurance that gas drilled in the USA stays and is used in the USA.
The assertion that modern culture needs access to energy resources is correct. What is unacceptable is unconscious and irresponsible despoiling of lands we inhabit, visit or just know exist as they were. An important human value is vigilant stewardship of air, water, land and wildlife.
We can likely coexist with wise energy development. However, industry has a long way to go to achieve full public acceptance. Honest implementation of these provisions will achieve more public support. Continued intransigence will only lead to further battle.
Sentinel’s nature photos enjoyed both near and far
We so enjoy the beautiful nature photos that appear regularly in The Daily Sentinel. My 90-year-old mother-in-law is in an assisted-living facility in Oregon, and we always include several of them when we write to her. She, in turn, shares them with the other residents.
Kudos to the photographers and to the paper for printing so many in color.