Friday, August 5, 2011

Fracking Letter from Retired Public School Teacher to CO Gov. Hickenlooper

23011 County Road 150
Agate, CO 80101
August 3, 2011

Governor John Hickenlooper
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203

We appreciate the effort you are doing requiring oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. We would like you to consider implementing additional rules to protect the citizenry from other potential hazards. My wife and I live in central Elbert County and are anticipating the oil development in the near future and are very concerned about the effects on our health, the environment and our property values.

One doesn’t have to look too hard to find numerous incidences of the consequences of living in an industrial site. We have worked and lived in Elbert County for 30 years and have looked forward to retiring on our ranch where we grow organic vegetables, raise dairy goats, chickens and a few steers. (By the way, we met you at the Elbert County Democratic party last year and voted for you.) We consider ourselves lucky to watch the constellations move through the night sky. We can hear the coyotes call, the songbirds sing and the wind blow through the Ponderosa Pines. Our well water is ample and good. We know that when the ten story, 150’, oil rigs move in with generators running 24/7, lights lighting up the sky at night, non stop truck traffic and the smell of spent diesel fuel and open hydraulic fracking fluid pits, that will all change. With the mortgage debacle, our property is now worth less than what we owe on it; to make matters even more dismal, property values around oil fields typically depreciate 25% to 75%. And, because of President Lincoln’s 1862, grant of mineral rights to the railroad (and subsequent purchase by them by Anadarko) we’ll get nothing in royalties.

It is obvious that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, after attending numerous meetings hosted by them, don’t care about the results of hydraulic fracturing on the public. It is fruitless to talk to them. We have petitioned the county commissioners to install regulations to protect the county but apparently the State regulations preempt the counties’. The Colorado Supreme Court has given the oil companies the right to drill on anyone’s land to get to their minerals. Surface owners have no rights.

Clearly this is not a government by the people or for the people because the laws do not protect the people. Clearly the government is for large corporations by large corporations, who, by the way, have grossed billions of dollars in the first two quarters of this year and have been subsidized by the taxpayers.

I am not a petroleum engineer or a geologist or an attorney (I’m a retired public school teacher who can’t afford an attorney) so don’t have a good grasp of what to ask specifically but have watched numerous on line videos, read as much as I can, and, like I’ve stated, gone to as many meetings and discussions as I physically could. I have watched the documentaries ‘Gasland’ and ‘Split Estate’. I’ve read ‘Collateral Damage’ by Tara Meixsell. I’ve talked to geologists and people who work for Encana, Chesapeake, and Anadarko. I’ve driven through Garfield and Weld counties. I feel that my list below is reasonable to protect public safety and health.

1) The set back for distance to residences or existing water wells should be changed to at least 1320’, a quarter mile. Three hundred fifty feet is totally inadequate.

2) The EPA is currently evaluating stricter air pollution regulations. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask for a moratorium on drilling until the EPA completes its evaluation in early 2012.

3) 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 air quality emissions on film as evidence.

4) Counties 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 a minimum of five years after the well has been fracked.

5) Oil companies should have to maintain the road and bridge infrastructure.

6) Counties need deputies to monitor the truck traffic and to help monitor the behavior of transient workers.

7) Our local fire departments need equipment and personnel to fight potential fires quickly. Special foam is needed to fight toxic chemical fires. Our local stations are ill equipped.

8) Counties need their own inspectors to monitor the drilling. There are only 17 inspectors from the COGCC for the 40,000+ wells in the State.

9) Bonds need to be collected to compensate for lost property values especially for those of us who have our mineral rights severed.

10) All fluids used in hydraulic fracturing should be contained in closed loop systems. There should be no open pits allowed.

11) Toxic chemicals should be banned from fracking fluids.

12) Regulations need to be in place to control the disposal of used liquids.

13) Night lights need to be modified.

For the sake of Laura Amos, Chris Mobaldi and the countless others who have become sick, died or have had their lives needlessly disrupted, thank you for considering the above. I look forward to hearing/reading your response,

Rick Blotter

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