FTS: A month ago, at the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners meeting on June 4, Lisa Bracken asked that her request for a groundwater monitor in the area of the 2008 West Divide Creek seep be included as an “action item” on the July 2 BOCC Meeting Agenda. When the Agenda was released last week, Lisa was once again relegated to the complaint division — or “public comments” section. Undaunted, Lisa prepared a powerful “comment” . Today at the BOCC meeting, Lisa Bracken presented the BOCC with her written Response to West Divide Creek Chronology, then she made this statement:
Gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to address this Commission:
This is the third part of a three-part presentation which began in May, continued through June and concludes today. This series began when Kirby Wynn presented his and purportedly Dr. Thyne’s assessment to the county on the conditions of West Divide Creek – post 2004 and 2008 seeps.
Since that time, the county has not granted my request for an action item – that is, the opportunity to ask the board for a groundwater monitor in the area of newly identified thermogenic gas contamination in West Divide Creek, nor then, have I been granted the opportunity to ask that the county request that the state install such a monitor.
I’d like to remind the board that what is being presented by Mr. Wynn and therefore, Garfield County as Dr. Thyne’s opinion, is in direct contrast to his earlier assessments. I asked to speak to Dr. Thyne so that I could perhaps better understand his rationale and contribute context he may or may not be aware of. But what the county perceived as my request for a County-sponsored consultation with Dr. Thyne was denied.
So, in light of all of this, today, I am simply submitting my additions to the chronology that Kirby Wynn submitted to the county in May. These are based on my personal knowledge and eye-witness experiences which add important context to the assumptions advanced in the earlier draft version of the county’s timeline. I’d like it to be included in the official minutes of this meeting and made publicly available as a matter of record.
Since my presence here today will not result in a decision on behalf of the county, relative to this ongoing situation, I’d like to simply offer a perspective on how this issue has been allowed to worsen through the incomplete and poorly conceived decisions of this board.
Context is very important in understanding the why’s and how’s of a situation, so I think an additional element of clarity would be beneficial here. I certainly don’t think of an opportunity to discuss this matter with the county’s consultant, as a county sponsored consultation.
You may recall, this board put me in direct contact with Dr. Thyne in pursuit of his assessment and asked me to directly coordinate with him.
Both my request to discuss the matter with Dr. Thyne and my request that the county require the COGCC to install a groundwater monitor at the site of contamination or install one itself should be regarded by the county as a part of a discovery process toward learning what has occurred on west Divide Creek with the intention of preventing further contamination.
That is the purpose. I should remind the board that in non-oil and gas related contamination cases, this is standard procedure.
The COGCC – and Garfield County – denies that a 2008 seep ever even occurred. Yet, it did occur, and it led to the similar contamination on the Moon property. The COGCC installed a groundwater monitor on the Moon property – not to personally enrich the Moons, but to better determine the source of contamination – and they did. How is that location somehow different? I believe the county should be pursuing that distinction.
Rather than defend what is left of the West Divide Creek aquifer, rather than protect it – even as it continues to hemorrhage benzene, this board has encouraged and enabled further degradation by standing in support of fracking into the seep itself. And worse, even though I urged this board to look into the new risks represented by recently approved, very deep, shale horizontal fracking – and ways of mitigating it within the especially fragile divide creek hydrogeology, to my knowledge this board has taken no steps to do so.
Deep shale horizontal fracking for both gas and oil is the latest adaptation of technology to exploit all of Garfield County – not just West Divide Creek.
Contamination has occurred, and there is very clear, documented evidence to demonstrate that. Your denial of those facts and efforts to defend that denial through a structure of exclusion, or attempts to position me as somehow antagonistic to the county’s political will doesn’t make it any less real.
And that really does seem to illustrate the much bigger problem here.
Administratively, you have an obligation to the people of Garfield County. I and others expect you to live up to that – fairly and honorably. Just because that doesn’t always happen doesn’t mean my expectations should be lowered to the point of accepting your blind allegiance to the oil and gas industry.
This board has collectively and habitually resisted safeguarding the people’s health, let alone the clean air and water necessary to support it.
The values that drive the board’s decisions are becoming increasingly insulated and hostile to the support of life itself. And your unmoving defense of so indefensible a position has directly inspired others to take notice of these consequences and directly defend what remains of their livable environments.
Thank you for helping me to elevate awareness of these issues and generate that subsequent momentum toward safer practices and a consistent shift away from natural gas and toward sustainable resource. Thank you sincerely.
Counties and municipalities across the country are instituting moratoria until assurances of safe practices can be established. Don’t you think – in light of known impacts, that’s the very least a governing body by the people and for the people could do to help protect its citizens and the citizens’ resources?
With all due respect, gentlemen, your blind allegiance to the oil and gas industry has left you presiding over a dark and empty vision of our shared future. And it’s one that people are no longer willing to invest in.
The entire state of Vermont has banned fracking. The country of France has banned fracking.
I know you have said that you understand that after ten years of fighting to preserve the health and quality of West Divide Creek, I am invested in the success of that outcome.
I think I should remind you that West Divide Creek has become increasingly contaminated since 2004, through not only incompetence, inaction and neglect. It has happened because the tens of millions of dollars generated through its targeted destabilization and destruction has been regarded as more important than the value of the clean water it can provide.
West Divide Creek is more than an isolated surface watercourse, which is important in and of itself. It is more than an underlying aquifer and spring system. It is part of a broad and comprehensive, recharging watershed system vital to life in Western Colorado – all of life within the finite water cycle.
It provides life itself to people downstream. Those people include kids pre-possessed of a future – whether it is sick and bleak, like the water is… or whether it is healthy and vital, like the water could be, if we protected it.
The health of Divide Creek — like the health of all of our watersheds –represents in a direct, measurable and lasting way… the future.
Yes, I am invested in that outcome. What I don’t understand – what I truly cannot fathom, is why you are not.
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