Category Archives: Fracking Pollution

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RALLY September 23 for EPA Methane Rules Hearling

When I was trying to decide what to write for this occasion I saw another one of those commercials.  You know the commercials?  The ads that are from Noble or some other part of the industry.  I thought: I know what I can do.  I could do talk that is a version of 3 truths and a lie.  3 Truths and a Lie is an ice breaker game where you give three true facts about yourself and 1 lie.  The rest of the team then decides what is true.  Here’s my new game called: Many Lies and Little Truth.  It should be a fun game.  I will give you statements and you tell me truth or lie.  Here we go.  Yell out your answers.

  1. Let’s start with the commercial showing the cute woman who has an organic farm and raises goats and allows fracking on her land because it is so safe. Is fracking safe? Truth or lie?  What I hear is that she does have an organic farm, does raise goats, she just leases her mineral rights that are not on her organic farm but allows the wells next to some other family.

By the way the punch line that those of us who are trying to stop fracking, get her goat, makes me feel a little crazy.

  1. Water has never been contaminated by fracking? Lie, we have tons of evidence that it has been contaminated.  Plus, it is not normal for water to light on fire.
  2. Fracking has been done safely for 65 years! LIE? Yes another lie. The current form of high pressure, high volume, hydraulic fracking started in the late 90’s.  And has never been safe.
  3. We need this oil and gas to be energy independent. Lie: they are trying to get the export ban lifted. They are building terminals on both coasts and the gulf to be ready to export. That doesn’t sound like they need it for us to be energy independent.  This is simply about corporate profits.
  4. There is a commercial with a cute mother with the soccer kids. She says wouldn’t support any industry that pollutes.  Does this industry pollute?  Yes a LIE.  She is supporting fracking which is polluting our air. We are a non-attainment area for Ozone across much of the state.  The American Lung Association gave many of us an F for air quality.  This industry pollutes the air with deadly toxins and is putting our children at risk.  She probably lives in a gated community up the mountain out of this filthy air.
  5. The economy of Colorado will collapse if oil and gas industry is not allowed to continue full speed ahead with fracking.   The economics of fracking is usually stated in an inflated way.  They count the worker and also use a formula to also count people in the area where he works, so the barber, the person who checks out his groceries…and so on.  The truth is: -According to the Department of Commerce, oil and gas accounts for less than 1 % of the jobs in CO.  That’s about 30,000 jobs. It is estimated that transitioning to renewables would create 87,000 jobs in Colorado. 
  6. Governor Hickenlooper’s task force gave citizens of Colorado a voice in oil and gas operations. Why is Governor Hickenlooper protecting a dangerous, industrial practice instead of creating jobs, saving tax payer money, and protecting our health, air and water by transitioning to renewables? Why is he suing the citizens who voted to keep this dangerous industry out of our communities?
  7. The oil and gas industry is heavily regulated.   They are exempt from several federal acts including the clean air, clean water and RCRA which is about toxic waste disposal.  If they were safe why do they need these exemptions?
  8. Governor Hickenlooper frequently states that Colorado has the strictest methane rules in the country. California’s Governor says they have the strictest regulations.  TWO Lies. Flir camera video show how much toxic air pollution s rolling off the well pads. Methane leaks from the point of fracking to production on through to consumption.  Every point is a potential leak.  All these methane leaks are contributing to climate change. Recent studies reveal that the amount of methane leaking has been vastly underestimated.
  9. Fracking is a dirty disgusting form of extreme energy production. It is responsible for air, water, land pollution, habit destruction, and unhealthy communities. TRUTH


If you haven’t testified yet, go tell the EPA to listen to the truth, listen to scientists not industry lobbyists.  Tell the EPA that fracking is never safe. The EPA needs to lead us to a future free from fossil fuel!



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


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. ( 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.


F is for Failure

I am posting this on behalf of Lauren Swain.

Coloradans Against Fracking
Report Card—June 6, 2015
Evaluating the performance of the Colorado Legislature
and Governor John W. Hickenlooper in their duty to protect Coloradans from the harmful impacts of fracking.

The facts included in this report card demonstrate that the Colorado State Legislature and Governor John W. Hickenlooper have failed to protect the people of Colorado from the harmful impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for oil and gas. Because recent scientific studies have shown that fracking operations jeopardize human health and the environment with the introduction of enormous quantities of toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and water,[1] the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has banned fracking. Vermont has also banned the practice, as have the countries of France, Scotland, and Bulgaria. Other states, such as Maryland, and countries, such as Wales, have adopted, or are considering, moratoria and bans on fracking. Coloradans deserve the same protection as the citizens of these states and countries, but, due to the failure of our legislature and Governor to take meaningful action, we continue to suffer increasing risk to our lives, our property, and our democratic rights as the State of Colorado issues more permits for more wells to be drilled and fractured near homes and schools, all while denying local communities their right to restrict these dangerous operations.

Protecting Our Climate—F
Fracking for natural gas, as well as the processing, storage, and distribution of natural gas releases climate-altering methane into the atmosphere. Over a 100-year period, methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate disruptor.[2] Fracking for oil also releases methane, while the consumption of oil is a leading source of the carbon pollution damaging Earth’s climate.[3] Climate change threatens our state with more floods, forest fires, and drought[4]—diminishing our natural resources, destroying homes, and placing additional burdens on Colorado taxpayers and water rate payers.

Protecting Colorado’s Water—F
Oil and gas operators have, on average, spilled 200 gallons of petroleum chemicals per day over the past decade.[5] Over 700,000 gallons of toxic liquids have remained in Colorado soil after initial cleanup, often contaminating groundwater.[6] In 2014, operators reported almost two spills per day in Colorado, with over 10 percent of those spills contaminating groundwater.[7] And, even after the devastating floods of 2013 inundated fracking operations and released over 90,000 gallons of oil and produced water into Colorado’s rivers and waterways,[8] our state government still allows operators to drill new wells in Colorado’s flood plains,[9] risking more contamination when the wells and tanks are flooded again. The University of Missouri found contamination of the Colorado River with endocrine-disrupting chemicals near sites where fracking spills had been reported and supposedly remediated.[10] Toxic oil and gas industry spills like the one at Parachute Creek require massive cleanup operations that can take months or even years.[11]

Protecting Colorado’s Air Quality—F
Recent studies by the University of Colorado, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and others have found that oil and gas fracking operations contribute to grossly elevated levels of carcinogenic benzene in the air over the Front Range.[12] Researchers recently measured benzene levels almost 8 times higher than government agencies had estimated.[13]

The American Lung Association has recently rated the air quality for Front Range counties with D’s and F’s, due to ozone pollution.[14] Over half of ozone-precursor emissions in northeastern Colorado can be traced to oil and gas production.[15] As a result of increased pollution from fracking operations, air quality in our nine-country Front Range region is out of compliance with federal standards, placing Colorado at risk for penalties and sanctions, as well as health-care burdens.[16]

Protecting Colorado’s Public Health—F
Studies have shown that toxins released into the air and water by fracking operations are linked to harmful short- and long-term health effects including neurological problems, cancer, and birth defects.[17]

Ozone-precursor pollution from fracking operations aggravates asthma and other serious health problems, and diminishes the length and quality of human life—especially for children and the elderly. Victims are forced to miss school and work, while additional burdens are placed on healthcare service providers and public health programs.[18]

Protecting Colorado’s Public Safety—F
Fires, explosions, and spills occur frequently at fracking sites in Colorado. At least seven fracking-related fires occurred on the Front Range in 2014,[19] including one that killed a Halliburton employee.[20] A recent fire and explosion at a fracking waste disposal facility near Greeley caused oil tanks to fly into the air. The resulting fire took hours to put out and caused four nearby homes to be evacuated.[21] That same waste-disposal facility was linked to earthquakes in the Greeley area last year.[22] The US Geological Survey has associated the increasing number of earthquakes in fracking regions with the disposal of billions of gallons of toxic waste into injection wells.[23] Earthquakes threaten public safety, destroy property, and can damage infrastructure, including roads and dams.

Protecting Colorado’s Natural Environment—F
Oil and gas production is reducing the viability of rare species like the sage grouse.[24] Habitats for deer are being fragmented and compromised by access roads and drilling pads.[25] Our scenic values are increasingly marred by rigs and tanks, and our streams and rivers are contaminated by spills. The impacts of fracking operations on water quality, air quality, soil, and scenic values threaten Colorado’s tourism, fishing, hunting, ranching, farming, and brewing industries.

Protecting Coloradan’s Property Rights—F
The oil and gas industry is permitted to drill and frack for oil and gas against the will of surface owners and neighbors. Home values can plummet as a result of fracking taking place on or near a property[26], and access to loans and property insurance is sometimes denied to surface owners.[27] Operators may also demand that mineral-rights owners lease now, against their will, or face the threat of state-mandated “forced-pooling” of their property.[28]

Protecting Colorado Voters—F
In 2012 and 2013, voters in the cities of Longmont, Fort Collins, Broomfield, Lafayette, and Boulder passed ballot measures placing moratoria or bans on hydraulic fracturing out of concern for their health, environment, well-being, and economy. Since that time, most of these communities have been sued by the industry, based on the premise that state law allows only the state to regulate oil and gas production.

The Colorado Legislature and Governor Hickenlooper have taken no action to protect these communities and others from lawsuits invalidating the will of voters or local governments.[29] While the 2015 legislature was in session, the state of Colorado issued permits for almost 1000 new wells, in addition over 4000 permits awarded to the industry last year.[30] Our legislators and our governor have failed to act on citizens’ pleas to stop the threat of preemption-based lawsuits when local voters and governments adopt measures to protect their residents from the harmful impacts of fracking. Local governments are still forced to spend taxpayer money to defend their voters’ rights, or surrender their rights to the oil and gas industry.

Written and compiled by Lauren Swain, 350 Colorado Fracking Specialist

CAF Report Card Sources:
[1] Concerned Health Professionals of New York, Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking, 2nd Ed., Dec. 11, 2014.
[2] see 2
[3] US Environmental Protection Agency, Overview of Greenhouse Gases-Carbon Dioxide Emissions, updated May 7, 2015.
[4] Howard, Brian Clark, “Amid Drought, Explaining Colorado’s Extreme Floods” National Geographic, September 13, 2013.
[5] Finley, Bruce. “Colorado faces oil boom “death sentence” for soil, eyes microbe fix.” The Denver Post. May 4, 2014.
[6] see 6
[7] Finley, Bruce. “Oil and gas spills surge, two a day, residents often not notified.” The Denver Post. July 14, 2014.
[8] Rueschhoff, Austin. “Oil and Gas Operations and Colorado’s Floods: The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commssion Tackles the Issues.” University of Denver Water Law Review. November 14, 2013.
[9] Finley, Bruce. “Colorado adopts rules for oil and gas operations in flood zones.” The Denver Post. March 2, 2015.
[10] University of Missouri Health System, “MU Researchers Find Fracking Chemicals Disrupt Hormone Function.” January 3, 2014
[11] Webb, Dennis. “ ‘Gift from nature’ eases threat of contaminants in creek.” Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. February 9, 2015.
[12] Jaffe, Mark. “Researchers assess emissions from Colorado oil and gas fields.” The Denver Post. November 16, 2014.
[13] Finley, Bruce. “Scientists flying over Colorado oil and gas boom find worse air pollution.” The Denver Post. May 6, 2014.
[14] American Lung Association. “State of the Air: 2015—Report Card Colorado”
[15] Aguilar, John. “Cu-Boulder, NOAA study uncovers oil and gas emission’s ‘chemical signature’.” The Daily Camera. January 16, 2013
[16] Finley, Bruce. “Bad air: Denver, western cities rise up list of nation’s most-polluted.” The Denver Post. April 29, 2014.
[17] Rice, Doyle. “Is fracking polluting the air?” USA Today. December 17, 2014.
[18] US Environmental Protection Agency. “Ground Level Ozone: Health Effects.” November 26, 2014.
[19] Finley, Bruce. “Front Range firefighters gird after oil fires as wells encroach.” The Denver Post. May 1, 2014.
[1] Wallis, Daniel. “Halliburton worker killed in Colorado fracking accident.” Reuters. November 13, 2014.
[1] Redmond, James. “Greeley firefighters extinguish blaze near Greeley-Weld County Airport.” Greeley Tribune. April 17, 2015.
[22] see 22
[23] US Geological Survey. “Induced Earthquakes: Featured Research Projects” May 1, 2015.
[24] McKinnon, Taylor. “1.7 Million Acre Fracking Plan Draws Protest in Colorado.” Center for Biological Diversity. April 28, 2015.
[25] Taylor, Phil. “Sportsmen seek room for wildlife amid drilling push.” Energy and Environment News. October 21, 2014.
[26] McMahon, Jeff. “Pollution fears crush home prices near fracking wells.” Forbes. Apri 10, 2014.
[27] Conlin, Michelle and Grow, Brian. “Special Report: US builders hoard mineral rights under new homes.” Reuters. October 9, 2013.
[28] Harder, Abby. “Compulsory pooling laws protecting the conflicting rights of neighboring landowners.” National Conference of State Legislatures. October 24, 2014.
[29] Marcus, Peter. “Fracking battle rages on in Colorado.” Durango Herald. May 12, 2015.–
[30] Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. “Colorado Weekly and Monthly Oil & Gas Statistics.” June 1, 2015.


Health Care Professionals Concerned About Fracking

As a retired Registered Nurse, I am very interested in the health aspects of fracking pollution.  I recently had an encounter that was a new experience for me.  It made me sad, glad, proud and angry. Fighting this fossil fuel industry is certainly an emotional experience!

I was handed a sheaf of papers that contained copies of studies, published by the Endocrine Society, documenting the implications of air pollution emitted by fracking operations. These studies reported on the horrible effects that will likely result from pollution related to fracking, especially harming those innocent families living near wells, suffering from exposure to not just one pollutant, but from the cumulative effect of several toxins.  (More about this study later in the article.)

Why did these papers come to me?  The person who originally printed them off is an MD.  This physician is afraid of job loss if they speak out.  The MD gave the material to a friend asking how they can get it to out others, then that person gave it to another friend asking how they could help, and the information found its way to me.

Angry: when and how did this industry become so powerful that people I always considered powerful (physicians) are afraid to speak out in a country where we are guaranteed freedom of speech?  Sad: that this country no longer represents freedom to many of us. Glad: this physician is continuing to reach out in any way possible, as are many other healthcare providers, to get information out to us.  Proud:  That Coloradans Against Fracking is working at that grassroots level of person-to-person contact, and even very powerful people and groups can’t stop us!

Now, back to the information this physician wants you to know. In December, 2013, a peer-reviewed study of water and soil samples taken from Garfield County, Colorado drilling sites found anti-estrogenic, and anti-androgenic compounds at higher levels than those found at non-drilling sites both in Colorado and Missouri.   The article goes on to cite the known health consequences of exposure to these chemicals: “respiratory, gastrointestinal, dermatologic, neurologic, immunologic, endocrine, reproductive, and other negative health outcomes in humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife species.”  On one of the sites tested, the rancher had to move cattle operations from the area because the animals no longer produced live offspring.

Then in June 2014, the Endocrine Society put out a press release with the title: Hormone-disrupting activity of fracking chemicals worse than initially found.   “Many chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can disrupt not only the human body’s reproductive hormones but also the glucocorticoid and thyroid hormone receptors, which are necessary to maintain good health, a new study finds.”

I realize that some of these words and concepts may be difficult if you aren’t familiar with medical terminology and studies. In a nutshell: these chemicals can interfere with every body system and these chemicals were found in soil and water in Garfield County, including the Colorado River. These toxins can cause cancers, birth defects, neurological disorders, and metabolic issues.  Remember, the oil and gas industry is exempt from key provisions of the federal Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and other laws that Americans depend on for their health and safety.

It is important to realize that other people in the health care field are speaking out.  The Concerned Health Professionals of New York released an excellent compendium of all the research last year, (and it became a key factor in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking in New York).  One statement from the accompanying review of the studies haunts me: ““This is a significant public health risk,” said lead author David O. Carpenter, MD, “Cancer has a long latency, so you’re not seeing an elevation in cancer in these communities. But five, 10, 15 years from now, elevation in cancer is almost certain to happen.””  I urge you to read at least the executive summary of this paper.

There are also local people speaking out where ever they can to say, “Enough! Stop poisoning us!” One such person is Benita from Colorado’s Western Slope, who has spoken out bravely at many venues.  An example of her message from 2011 is at this link. We are saying, “Please don’t allow this. Our children and grandchildren deserve better.”  Please join Coloradans Against Fracking in getting this important message out.  Reach out to us here  if you want more information.