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ALERT Project

Documenting human health impacts of exposure to crude oil, tar sands oil, and fracking activities through education, testing & treatment of at-risk populations.
Strengthening policies to protect the public and our workers from oil and chemical exposures. Continue reading

04Aug/15
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Declaration Rejecting the Legitimacy of COGCC

Below is the new Declaration Rejecting the legitimacy of the COGCC. On August 3rd this was delivered to Matt LePore, Director of COGCC, at a hearing in Greeley. As we prepared for the hearings, we realized that no matter what we said when we testify, how many personal stories of harm people experienced, or how many scientific studies we give them, they are unfazed. The COGCC is serving as a rubber stamp agency for the this Extreme Extraction Industry and doesn’t care that communities are being polluted. It is time to say ENOUGH. Join us as we continue to tell COGCC, the Governor and Legislators that they cannot continue to put our communities in harms way

Declaration Rejecting the Legitimacy of the
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

Whereas:
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has failed in its mission to:

“protect the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens and
protect the welfare of the environment and wildlife resources”.

We, Coloradans Against Fracking, find it necessary to reject the authority of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to make decisions that negatively impact our health, our air, our water, and our land, or violate the will of the voters seeking to protect their health, air quality, water quality, or property from the impacts of oil and gas extraction. Therefore, it is our duty to continue to work to genuinely protect the people, wildlife and the environment of the state of Colorado.

Addendum

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Mission Statement:
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was created “to foster oil and gas development in the state of Colorado while protecting public health, safety, and welfare, including the protection and welfare of the environment and wildlife resources.”

Nothing about the current heavy industrial processes used to extract oil and gas is compatible with maintaining public health, safety and welfare or protecting the environment and wildlife resources. Toxic air pollution, explosions, fires, earthquakes, and toxic spills contaminating ground water & polluting rivers and streams all continue to occur. As drilling and transport of raw materials and waste increases, so does the incidence of “accidents”. The COGCC’s actions and regulations have not stopped the spills, accidents or earthquakes. Compatibility between this heavy, toxic industry and public health, safety and welfare is not possible within such close proximity of human activity.

Research, studies, data:
The dangerously irresponsible actions taken, or not taken, by the COGCC are not from a lack of competence. They are the result of selective interpretation by the COGCC of the edict written by the Colorado legislature defining their duty. By choosing to define their mission from the industry’s point of view, the COGCC gives themselves permission to ignore scientific documentation, data and empirical observation that prove toxic, adverse effects to our air, water, soil, health and property caused by oil & gas development: and to reference only studies solicited by and for industry when creating rules and regulations. The COGCC chooses to ignore the many peer reviewed, scientific studies made available to them. What may be the most offensive and harmful action of all, is that members of the COGCC choose to ignore the many personal testimonies of Coloradans who have been harmed by oil & gas development.

Process:
The actions of the COGCC demonstrate that the processes established to provide opportunity for public input and participation are intended only to create a false sense of security for the public; a facade meant to lure a trusting public into submission and complacency – with the secondary purpose of deflecting any and all who might challenge the authority of the COGCC to permit drilling when and wherever the industry chooses. Any comment, criticism or testimony that is not in support of the industry may be listened to, but are ultimately ignored.

Regulation:
COGCC regulations, insistently touted as the strongest in the country, are empty words created to provide a false sense of security. Monitoring and reporting is largely left to the industry with notice given in advance of inspection. Self-regulation amounts to no regulation. Token fines may be imposed in instances when a fine is legally required. These minimum fines are often dismissed when the company accepts the choice of performing community service. Here the COGCC has been consistent. They regularly apply no fine or a minimum fine for industry violations.

Coloradans Against Fracking says enough.

We, the people, simply cannot and will not recognize the legitimacy of a commission whose actions are detrimental to our health and safety, and to the health and safety of future generations. By both their actions and inaction, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission constantly and consistently fails to fulfill its mission and by doing so, fails to protect us, the residents of the state they are charged with protecting.

Therefore, Coloradans Against Fracking must, in all moral conscience, reject any authority the failed Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission claims to hold, and will continue to work to truly protect the citizens, wildlife and the environment of the state of Colorado.

28Jul/15
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ENOUGH! Greeley Event August 3rd

Monday, August 3, 5 p.m.:  Coloradans Against Fracking invites you to join us at the Weld County Admin. Building, 1150 O Street in Greeley. Representatives of CAF will be there to issue a declaration to the COGCC that will also be sent to our Governor.
Background: As you may know the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Colorado’s regulatory commission on oil and gas development) is meeting with representatives from local governments to discuss the implementation of two recommendations from the Governor’s Oil and GasTask Force.  These recommendations will become regulations that are both dismissive and dangerous to our communities and our state.

#17 defines the size of well pads within our communities.  #20 allows oil and gas to dictate where within our cities they plan to drill in the future, so that space would be held and available for them to drill.  Neither give local governments or citizens any protection from extreme energy production. Both serve the industry; providing more evidence that the COGCC works for the industry they are charged with promoting, not for the citizens with whom they are charged with protecting.
These proceedings are not open for public comment but the public can attend.
 We know that any comment relating to the damage being done to us and our communities by oil and gas development will  continue to be ignored.
The COGCC already knows what is happening and
THEY DONT CARE!
They don’t care that our air is polluted.
They don’t care that our ground water is polluted.
They don’t care that we get sick from toxins.
They don’t care that our homes are being ruined.
They don’t care that our communities are unsafe.
The COGCC may claim the right to force extreme energy extraction and policies on our communities and our lives, but CAF proclaims
ENOUGH!
Meet the representatives of CAF near the front entrance of the building for more information on this important action event.
FaceBook Event Page
Thank you.  See you Monday.
21Jul/15
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In search of the “net positive” Blog from Peggy Tibbets

Peggy regularly posts a blog, From the Styx.  Those near Battlement Mesa will be interested in this post.  Our friends on the Western Slope have been in this fight longer than many of us.  You can see all her blogs here.

July 20, 2015

battlement mesaGarfield Countyoil and gas drilling

bob-arrington-back-porch

The Ursa meeting in Battlement Mesa last Monday (7/13) was well attended. I was unable to be there. However the Post Independent has taken a sudden interest in the future drilling plans in the Battlement Mesa PUD, therefore the meeting was covered by a local reporter. From reading the article and talking to people who attended, it was sort of an introductory or preliminary meeting to get a feel for public concerns. In addition to Ursa environmental manager Rob Bleil, Garco director of community development Fred Jarman, Kent Custer from the CDPHE and Dave Kubezco, a COGCC staff member, were also present. The next meeting is scheduled for August 3, at the Grand Valley Fire Protection District firehouse in Battlement Mesa.

Ursa PUD plans not quite complete

Ursa Resources is making alterations to its application with Garfield County to drill inside the Battlement Mesa Planned Unit Development, which, assuming the changes meet standards, could put an expected date for initial public hearings sometime in September.

The oil and gas producer — which currently operates one of four active rigs in Garfield County, according to the website Community Counts — expects to submit the revised application in the next several weeks. Assuming that happens and the initial application is deemed complete, public hearing would likely happen in September or possibly early October, said Fred Jarman, director of Garfield County community development. The changes requested are nothing too substantial, as it is still early in the process, Jarman added.

Those changes are needed for Garfield County to deem the preliminary plans complete; a required step in the procedural process before the application becomes open for public review. The application covers phase one of Ursa’s plans within the Battlement Mesa PUD. Phase one includes two pads totaling 53 wells, as well as a pipeline.

Efforts to extricate the natural gas within the PUD date back several decades, and have been met with concern from some residents.

Some of those concerns were voiced Monday at a public meeting that drew around 70 people — a mix of residents, regulators and oil and gas industry representatives — at the Grand Valley Fire Protection District firehouse in Battlement Mesa. The meeting was one in a series Ursa has scheduled in the lead up to public hearings on the application.

The intention, Rob Bleil, regulatory and environmental manager for Ursa, told the crowd, is to answer as many questions as possible before public review begins.

Questions ranged from potential environmental impacts, to legal rights, to construction impacts and to the possible implications for property values.

In touching on broad aspects of the regulatory process, both with Garfield County and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Bleil reassured residents that Ursa would follow all the rules and regulations throughout the process.

Noting that, in response to a question, there are other parts of the state that have oil and gas development in close proximity to high density zones, Bleil said he thought the long-term implications would be a net positive, however, he conceded there would be initial obstruction during the construction phase.

That phrase “net positive” got my attention. Mainly because I don’t know what it means. So I googled it.

Urban Dictionary defines net positive as “a person who has evolved in his communications and data management to the point of considering obsolete the use of text messages, cd burning, and games not played online. A Net Positive person does not watch TV, neither goes to movie theaters; if not downloadable, he says, it is not worth the bother.”

Nope. I don’t think Mr. Bleil was talking about a person.

What I gleaned from all the other search entries is that “net positive” is a meaningless term that industry reps use when they’re trying to convince us that fracking up the environment and poisoning our air and water will have some sort of far-reaching-into-the-future-benefit.

What could that benefits possibly be? Perhaps we should ask Silt Mesa residents, or Mineota Estates homeowners, or Dry Hollow, or Divide Creek, or Hunter Mesa … Maybe they can enlighten us about the net positive outcome of oil & gas drilling in your backyard. Oh. Wait. I’ll bet Bob Arrington in Battlement Mesa can tell us the net positive impact of drilling in his backyard (see photo above).

“We’re not going to sugarcoat it and say there aren’t going to be short-term impacts,” he said, in likening the construction to building a highway and other infrastructure projects.

Except at the end of highway construction there’s a shiny new highway. Everyone benefits, not just mineral rights owners and Ursa. A well pad and pipelines are not infrastructure that benefits the residents. They only benefit the industry.

Citing a desire to provide a complete answer, not every question was addressed that evening, which noticeably agitated some in the crowd. Bleil assured them there would be several opportunities in the future to try and answer those questions.

When Ursa purchased the assets of Antero Resources in the Piceance Basin in 2012, there were 10 potential pads identified within the PUD. That number has since been reduced to five, John Doose, field land manager for Ursa, told the crowd.

To drill out the PUD, it would take approximately 197 wells. Of that number, 103 wells, including 48 already drilled, will be drilled from outside the PUD. “It shows we’ve really tried to drill outside the PUD,” Doose said …

According the article, the next Ursa meeting will discuss construction plans. It is scheduled for August 3, at the Grand Valley Fire Protection District firehouse.

10Jul/15
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JOIN US NOW TO DEMAND LOCAL RIGHTS: Call out the COGCC Rulemaking Sham

I stand by the pessimistic view most of us had of the Blue Ribbon Panel. It was loaded with oil and gas industry executives and other fossil fuel advocates. Only a few (less than a third) were known to be skeptical of the industry’s claims regarding the safety of fracking. Out of this rigged panel came recommendations for COGCC to work on, through rule making. Meetings are now scheduled around the state to get stakeholder input on two of these recommendations.

These two initiatives are both examples of feel good measures that have little chance of improving the lives of citizens who live in the path of the dirty, polluting industry.

I can say this without doubt for two reasons:
1) How the meetings were scheduled. COGCC posted the meeting schedule on July 7th and the first meeting was actually held July 7th. Disturbingly, the location of the meeting was Encana’s downtown Denver office and the meeting was hosted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Colorado Petroleum Association.  The choice of location and hosts makes it painfully clear that the COGCC is putting the interests of the industry ahead of citizens’ interests.

2) The recommendations themselves maintain the state’s ability to deprive local communities of any meaningful power over the actions of the industry within their jurisdictions. From recommendation 17: “Where siting solutions are not possible, the Director would require mitigations to limit the intensity and scale of the operations, as well as other mitigations, to lessen the impacts on neighboring communities.” From recommendation 20: “This proposal is to recommend the framework which will facilitate incorporation of drilling plans into municipal comprehensive planning.”

Neither of these recommendations actually allow a local entity to exercise local control.

An overview of these two recommendations:
Number 17 calls for local government and operators to work together to site “Large Scale Oil and Gas Facilities” in “Urban Mitigation Areas.” The rule making is to adopt a process for local governments to interact with an application to drill, define what constitutes “Large Scale Oil and Gas Facilities,” and define authority and procedures of COGCC when permitting these facilities. The procedure will include “siting tools to keep these away from residential areas when feasible.” (emphasis is mine)
Number 20 calls for local governments to “include incorporating potential oil and gas development into local comprehensive plans.” Operators are to register with local governments if they are planning to drill in the next 5 years and give the number of wells, maps of current and potential well sites and infra structure so that the industry has access to those sites.

Neither of these proposals even hint that we, the citizens living near proposed drilling and fracking sites, may be afforded any power at all in the process. Just more “stand by and get fracked.” It is time to take action! Raise our voices! Please try to attend one of the meetings, and bring your family and friends. Let the COGCC know we are tired of being their guinea pigs in a giant health experiment. Let them know we demand clean air, water and land free from pollution. Let them know we want our democracy back!  Time to BAN FRACKING NOW!

The meetings schedule is below. I hope to see many of you at one or more of these.

July 7, 2015 1:00-3:00 p.m. COGA, CPA, API Encana Oil and Gas 370 17th Street Suite 1700
Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:30 a.m. -12:00 p.m. City and County of Broomfield The Chateau at Fox Meadows 13600 Xavier Lane Broomfield, CO
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 1:30-4:00 p.m. City of Brighton Brighton City Hall, 6th Floor City Council Study Session Rm. 500 S. Fourth Ave
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 1:30-4:00 p.m. Garfield County Grand River Health Conference Facility 501 Airport Road Rifle
Monday, August 3, 2015 5:30-8:00 p.m. Weld County Greeley Administration Building 1150 O Street, Greeley
Thursday August 6th TBD La Plata County La Plata County Administration Building 1101 E. 2nd Avenue Durango, CO

30Jun/15
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Ozone: colorless, usually odorless, dangerous!

I receive text alerts whenever the Air Quality Index indicates there is smog/ pollution in my area. This text message arrived on my phone for 10 of the last 14 days plus 3 earlier days in June (June 8,9,10,17,18,20,22,23,25,27,28,29 and today, 30) “ Smog levels are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS”. I get my alerts from the Sierra Club  but other sites can also send out this information.

Ozone is usually undetectable without monitoring. However, some people report a pungent odor and we all see the smog hanging around the mountains. For people with asthma, high ozone may trigger an attack. Those with other respiratory disorders such as COPD will also note increased difficulty breathing. I know that when the levels are high, I return from my walk with a rapid respiratory rate even if I am not walking rapidly.

The American Lung Association gave many counties in Colorado an F for air quality. (http://www.stateoftheair.org/2015/states/colorado/) Those counties with lots of fracking, such as Weld and those adjacent to fracking, such as Boulder, received an F. Denver, despite its heavy traffic, is slightly better,D so don’t believe the fossil fuel industry when they say this is due to automobiles, In fact studies have found that 55% of the ozone-precursor pollution in Erie, CO can be traced directly to oil and gas production.

Why is this important? According to Wikipedia: “Ozone is a powerful oxidant which causes ozone to damage mucous and respiratory tissues in animals, and also tissues in plants, above concentrations of about 100 ppb. This makes ozone a potent respiratory hazard and pollutant near ground level.”

This information is available from many sources, but Sierra Club states:
“Smog (ground-level ozone) is a dangerous air pollution that harms your family’s health. When we breathe smoggy air, it causes inflammation that has been compared to sunburn. Children whose lungs are still developing, senior citizens, and persons with asthma and other respiratory ailments are most at risk from smog pollution, but no one is safe outside on high ozone days. Even at low levels, smog is associated with low birth weight in newborns and premature death from a host of causes. Ozone triggers life-threatening asthma attacks, sending tens of thousands of children to emergency rooms each year.”

Ozone is created when Nitrous Oxide and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), react with heat and sunlight. The formula is NOx+VOC+Heat+Sunlight= Ozone.

Physicians for Social Responsibility have a well-documented paper  describing the connection between the VOC’s released from fracking operations and ozone production. An excerpt from this paper:
“Fracking operations release VOCs “at each stage of production and delivery which then mix with nitrogen oxides from the exhaust of diesel-fueled trucks and equipment to form ozone. VOCs and ozone pollution have been detected at dangerous levels at fracking sites in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.
• One study in Northeastern Colorado found exceptionally high levels of VOCs in the air and traced the chemical signature of around 55% of them directly back to gas and oil operations.
• For parts of 2011, the level of ozone pollution in rural Wyoming’s gas drilling areas exceeded that of Los Angeles and other major cities. The peak, at 116 parts per billion, significantly exceeded the EPA’s healthy limit of 75 parts per billion.
• Uintah County, Utah, home to one of the highest-producing oil and gas fields in the country, has experienced dangerously high levels of VOCs and resultant ozone for over five years. The amount of VOCs released in 2013 in Uintah County alone was calculated as the equivalent of emissions from 100 million automobiles.”

In this paper, Physicians for Social Responsibility calls for a moratorium on fracking until adequate regulations and safeguards are in place to protect human health. We Coloradans and others who live in the gas patch are being slowly poisoned by fracking operations.
Coloradans Against Fracking will continue to work toward eliminating this dangerous, dirty industry from our state.