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

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