Saturday, August 25, 2012

Open letter to the Honorable John Hickenlooper, Governor State of Colorado

July, 31 2012

Dear Governor,

Let me introduce myself, I am Carl B. Erickson. I reside in Weld county Colorado. I am currently running for Weld county Commissioner at Large as a write- in candidate. Overall I am very pleased with your tenure as Governor, especially your handling of the recent tragedies in Aurora and the wildfire epidemic. But as a resident of Weld county, the county which has the largest number of oil and gas wells in it, I have one very large area of concern.

I am heartily worried about the future of our great State, I fear the will and welfare of our citizens are being widely ignored. Widely voiced resistance to unwanted hydro-fracture drilling and the plethora of support industries involved in it are met by platitudes and rhetoric by our elected officials at the state and local levels. You, sir, are among the issuers of these.

On July 17, 2012 you were quoted as saying “Like any industrial process, fracking has some risks but, really, if done properly, certainly out in the West, there is literally no risk — certainly much less than many industrial processes,” in an interview for Fortune Magazine. Which is it Governor? Some risk, literally no risk, or much less risk? Is it the ‘some risk’ of polluting reported by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission estimated at 44% of spills at fracking pads resulting in contamination of groundwater? Or the ‘literally no risk’ imposed by drinking water contamination as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency in their draft report on contamination in Pavillion WY? Or the ‘much less risk’ posed by the EPA analysis of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas being 9,000 times higher than previously reported?

Or, maybe the operative phrase is, ‘if done properly’. Perhaps the necessary steps are not in place to insure the responsible drilling of which you speak. Perhaps the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s maximum fine of $1000 dollars a day per incident isn’t anything more than an acceptable operating cost to the offenders. Or maybe the handful of investigators we have is not enough. Whatever the cause, if we are not ensuring drilling is ‘done properly’ we are ignoring the health and welfare of our environment and our residents.

Stunts like swilling fracking fluid as you said you did in a March 1 2012 radio report for KUNC, do little to assuage concerns when residents who live in the vicinity of frack sites can observe the effect of spilled fluids first-hand. Dying plants and dead water life are ample proof that just because you can drink a little something (grain alcohol for example), doesn’t mean it is healthy or conducive to growth when applied in gallons.

Residents of Weld county find it a hard pill to swallow when ample water to raise crops and quench the thirst of livestock and yards is unavailable to them. Insult is added to this injury when rows of fracking water trucks line up 20 deep to fill up with water from municipal fire hydrants as they do in Greeley, and then transport that water on county roads so dry they spew dust high in the sky and depress the roadbed with their weight, right past farmers and ranchers whose crops and livestock could have been sustained for a while on the contents of those trucks. The contents of said trucks to be pumped into the impervious shale layer that will only return a small fraction of its contents to water cycle.

I’m sure you have heard of these issues, as well as the issues of inappropriate use of roads and blatant disregard of traffic laws in Weld County and elsewhere in the state. Yes we have jobs, but at what cost? At what level of quality are we subsisting in this energy economy? Cash is one of those things that may be edible, but is not beneficial as a primary foodstuff.

Human and environmental issues are not things we can plug in to a cost/benefit analysis; any loss in either of these areas negates any benefit that might be gained. If this industry cannot operate ‘properly’ it needs to be halted until such time as our lives and livelihood can be protected.

Therefore, Governor, I implore you to reconsider your stance on the practice of hydro-fracturing, considering the welfare of the majority of the citizens of this state before the financial benefits of a minority interest.

Carl B. Erickson

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


As for the bombshell 'Oil and Gas industry announcement', a few copies of which were allegedly found at the Convention Center yesterday and read with enthusiasm by yesterday evening's protestors...
                  What the frack is this?!
This one page document (scanned and attached), titled "The Colorado Oil and Gas Industry
Alliance Proudly Announces:  The Energy Revolution, Our Pledge to Colorado", states that:

"the time has come for our industry to acknowledge that a profound energy revolution is now necessary, to assure a healthy future for all of us". 

Citing scientific climate evidence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, and even the insurance industry and economic analysis, it concludes that:

"Frankly, none of us can afford or accept the large scale catastrophes associated with climate collapse.  Therefore, for those compelling reasons and because we have children too, we hereby pledge to an energy revolution, equivalent in scale to the challenges that face our generation.  We pledge to transition from fossil fuels to alternative, sustainable energy source development, that also protects our most valuable natural resources:  water, climate stability, Colorado's unparalleled natural environment, and the health of Coloradans."

WOW!!!  Then it goes on to "acknowledge the pioneering vision and practical roadmap of Colorado's Amory Lovins, and commit to implementing his program of 100% sustainable energy by 2050."   WOW squared !  Concession to and agreement with the Man with a Plan !

Concluding with:  "Over the next few months we will be releasing additional information regarding our transition steps, which will begin with asset relallocation.  We look forward to announcing our progress and leading the way to a bright tomorrow."

'Stunning ' would hardly begin to characterize this announcement!  This would be unprecedented. A truly revolutionary paradigm shift !  It's what we have all been asking for and working towards, with such profoundly disappointing responses or lack thereof from industry to date...

It seems way too good to be true. Where did this come from?  Delivered by wild birds?
Who would have done this?  Someone's idea of a joke?  What the frack?

Let's examine:
It's dated Aug. 16th.  There is a session at Denver's Energy Epicenter Oil and Gas conference on the 16th with "Paradigm Shift" in the title, but the description hardly matches the above complete and total paradigm shift.  Since this announcement document was found on the 14th but dated the 16th, is it a leak of an advance draft?   Any of you attending the Paradigm Shift session on the 16th, please let the world know whether it supports or refutes the announcement content ! 

The theme of this year's conference is "Energy Revolution", but none of the descriptive material for the conference hints at a real energy revolution, rather, it all seems to be about ramping up fracking for oil and gas from our Colorado Niobrara shale. 

There is no such entity as the "Colorado Oil and Gas Industry Alliance" that would "proudly announce",  only the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

So, what is this thing- a massive oil and gas leak or a cruel hoax ? 

Seems most likely that it's the latter, but it does provide fodder for thought. 
We could all take this opportunity to :

-Ask the press to check it out, and answer the question: Explosive Oil and Gas Leak or Cruel Hoax? 

-Ask a conference press representative to provide a response to the question: Explosive Oil and Gas Leak or Cruel Hoax? 

- Contact COGA and companies like Anadarko and Encana and Conoco Philips, that are actively drilling in Colorado, and ask them if they are really taking the "Pledge to Colorado" or not

- Contact the Governor's office and ask if the Governor is going to go on record as taking the "Pledge to Colorado" or not
- Pass it around to friends and colleagues and ask them what they think about following through with the "Pledge to Colorado"

Let's get on this  ASAP and start this conversation in Colorado around a "Colorado Pledge"!   Heartbreakingly cruel hoax that this likely is, at the very least,  it is a vision of the rationally operating world we are clamoring for and an opportunity for dialogue.