Are We Ready to have our Lifestyles Changed?
To: The Residents of Elbert County
July 31, 2011
As you know the oil and gas companies are about ready to start their exploration in Elbert County. They just completed seismic activity along the I-70 corridor between Watkins and Byers and are prepared to move their 150-foot rigs as soon as they determine the sweet spots. They are moving south from Weld County. In 1862, President Lincoln gave the railroads mineral rights to every odd section of land within twenty miles of the railroad so that they could get coal and timber to facilitate the westward expansion. Anadarko, an oil company operating in the area, has bought those rights. If you don’t own mineral rights to your property, as at least half of us don’t, you are under the mercy of giant oil companies, most of whom have made billions of dollars of profit in the first two quarters of 2011. Are you ready to have your life style changed and your property values depleted?
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I encourage you to look on the internet for articles about hydraulic fracturing. Find a book by Tara Meixsell, ‘Collateral Damage’; read it. Watch the movies, ‘Gasland’ and ‘Split Estate’. Drive through Weld County on road 85 between Greeley and Cheyenne, Wyoming. Drive along I-70, in Garfield County. If you enjoy the quiet country life, fresh water and fresh air, and if you invested your life savings in your home and land and that is important to you, you need to act NOW.
The county’s point man for regulating oil and gas development is Richard Miller. He recently completed regulations and has had a citizen’s group review them. These regulations are available on line. In my opinion, they need to have some loose ends tied-up.
generators run all the time and discharge spent diesel fuel in the air. Open hydraulic fracking storage pits emit dangerous fumes. Any gas that is given off is ‘flared’ and the fumes are toxic. The county has said the companies must be 600’ from residences. That is still too close. It should be changed to at least 1320’, a quarter mile.
2) Watch videos, on line, by Wes Wilson, an EPA retiree, and Dr. Theo Coburn, a scientist who has done extensive research about endocrine disruption. Serious controls need to be placed on generator emissions and open pits (the county has said that oil companies can only use closed-loop systems thereby eliminating open pits). (Google these names and you can find interesting articles.) The EPA is currently evaluating stricter regulations, which we should adopt. This study should be done in early 2012. Check out the EPA’s web site to find out more about this. I don’t believe that it is unreasonable to ask the oil companies to purchase infrared cameras for the county so that property owners can capture emissions on film as evidence
concern about water is for where the water goes after the process is finished. Typically the fracked water either is deposited in used wells under ground or it is evaporated. Since there are to be no open pits in Elbert County, the water will not be evaporated. We don’t want water that contains toxic chemicals stored underground because of the danger of it migrating into the aquifers. Regulations need to be in place to control the disposal of used liquids.
1) When an oil company moves on to your property, they can drill, according to the State, 350 feet from your home. Can you imagine a 150 foot tall rig drilling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that close to anyone’s home? At night, lights light up the entire area. They can take up to 10 acres of land for their well pad. They store worker’s living facilities, storage tanks, and headquarters’ facilities. Truck traffic is non-stop,
3) Another major concern is for our water. Hydraulic fracturing uses millions of gallons of water for each well. (Hope you’ve heard about the Elbert and HWY 86 water district. If you haven’t, find out about it. There are huge implications here.) I wonder about aquifer depletion. I can live without oil but can’t without water. The county has asked that no toxic chemicals be used in the fracking process (oil companies typically use diesel fuel, a known carcinogen, as well as a host of other dangerous chemicals in the fracking fluid). If a well is not cased properly or if, when the well is fracked, these fluids can migrate into the aquifers. If and when this happens, the aquifer is ruined forever. The county should have the oil companies pay an impact fee to have an independent company test all wells for aquifer depth and water quality before, during and for years after the land surrounding a homeowner’s well is used. (The county has in its regulations that no toxic chemicals will be used in the fracking fluid. This must be enforced.) Another
4) The residents need to be concerned about public safety. Do you have any idea how many truck trips it takes to get the necessary water to the wells? What does that do to our roads and bridges? Oil companies have to maintain this infrastructure. We need a deputy to monitor the truck traffic and to monitor the behavior of transient workers. In April of this year, a well in New York State exploded. It took thirteen hours for a crew to come from Texas to extinguish the flame. Our local fire departments need equipment and personnel to fight potential fires quickly. There are only 17 inspectors in the state to manage over 40,000 wells. Our county needs an inspector to monitor what happens here.
5) Finally, bonds need to be collected to compensate for lost property values. In a recent Denver Post article, property values were reported to have dropped by as much as 75% in and around drilling sites. For companies that gross billions of dollars every quarter not to be accountable for the destruction of land is unconscionable.
Please write to Richard Miller and ask that the county consider adding to the draft regulations. The Planning Commission will review the regulations before they go to the commissioners for approval. Be present at all discussions. We understand that the oil and gas companies have been granted access to their mineral rights by the Colorado Courts but that doesn’t mean that the citizenry should have to suffer the consequences.
Sincerely, Rick Blotter,