Western Coloradans join rally in Washington against fracking
A national rally to oppose hydraulic fracturing over the weekend included a contingent from western Colorado, where some residents say they have been dealing with impacts from natural gas development long before it became an issue of widespread concern.
“There are a lot more people concerned about it in a lot more areas than there were five years ago,” said New Castle resident Tara Meixsell, who attended the Stop the Frack Attack rally Saturday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Meixsell is the author of the self-published book “Collateral Damage,” which focuses on residents who say they have suffered ill health and other impacts from the heavy natural gas development in Garfield County.
The Western Colorado Congress citizens group helped organize a trip by a local delegation, which included Laura Amos, a rally speaker who moved to Collbran from Garfield County after drilling contamination of her well water.
“It was a great chance to get together with groups across the country to discuss this critical issue,” said Frank Smith, the group’s director of organizing.
The group also visited Washington to lobby for legislation and regulations to better protect the public and environment from oil and gas development. It met with representatives of U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, D-Colo., and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., seeking their support for measures known as the FRAC and BREATHE acts. The FRAC Act, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis, both Colorado Democrats, would require public disclosure of the substances injected underground in the hydraulic fracturing process. Polis’ BREATHE Act targets what he says are oil and gas exemptions to the Clean Air Act.
Meixsell said she went to Washington to help make people aware in areas of more recent drilling that health issues they’re suffering have been experienced before, in places like Garfield County.
“This is part of the package when drilling comes ... near you,” she said.
David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the rally consisted of 5,000 people who “chanted and ranted to ban a technology that 60 million American families will rely on this winter to heat their homes. Luckily, most western Colorado residents see past the silly carnival antics and understand hydraulic fracturing’s role in our economic future.”
The Western Colorado Congress also used the trip to express support to the Bureau of Land Management for its proposal to require public disclosure of fracking chemicals used on federal lands, but also to ask that the agency require such disclosures to occur in advance of drilling to facilitate before-and-after tests for specific substances in groundwater.