GasCo joins oil and gas to fund CSU study

Flaring at well pad N of Parachute — photo courtesy of Claudia Putnam

Garfield County pledges to fund CSU air study
Three-year effort will focus on natural gas well emissions

The three-year, $1.76 million study will be spearheaded by Colorado State University, in conjunction with the private research firm Air Resource Specialists.

Several oil and gas companies operating in Garfield County have pledged to provide another $800,000 to complete the study.

Let me guess — Anadarko, EnCana and Shell Rocky Mountain.

Here’s the math — $1 million dollars from GasCo plus $800,000 from the oil & gas companies equals win-win. An air quality study without any of that irritating human health impact assessment — because humans are so political.

“We’re not out to manipulate the political issues [around oil and gas development] but to get the facts out there,” [Commissioner John] Martin said. “These are the kind of things we need to find out and to share with the public.”

As opposed to say, the Battlement Mesa HIA and the Mamm Creek groundwater study where Martin manipulated political issues as his excuse to hide those studies from the public. The BOCC are definitely keeping politics out of it — as well as discussion, debate, fairness, open government …

The university has referred to the effort as a “nonpartisan scientific study.”

Interesting. If by “nonpartisan”, the university means funded by the oil & gas industry and three Republican county commissioners without any input from the public then I can’t argue with that. But this is the university, so maybe when referring to a scientific study they should stick to the facts. Like the fact that Merriam-Webster defines “nonpartisan” as “free from party affiliation, bias, or designation.” Doesn’t quite fit their message though, does it? Let’s take a look at the synonyms for “nonpartisan” — disinterested, dispassionate, indifferent. Now let’s try that statement again.

The university has referred to the effort as a “disinterested, dispassionate, indifferent scientific study.”

Oh, so that’s what they mean.

Dorothea Farris of Carbondale, speaking on behalf of the Thompson Divide Coalition, praised the county’s support of the air study.

“We are pleased that you are doing this, and admire what the county is doing to move this forward,” Farris said. “We are attempting to preserve an area that we feel to be inappropriate for natural gas development, and one of our concerns is air quality.”

With all due respect Dorothea Farris, you must be new to these oil & gas games. Here’s how this plays out. The industry will hand pick a selective sample of well pads to be monitored for air emissions. In three years – 2015 — they will present us with a colorful pamphlet of simple drawings and graphs which will lead to this conclusion: “Experts agree, everything’s fine. No need for further study – ever – about anything. Oil & gas operations are clean and safe.” Or something like that. And all that Gasfield County and the oil & gas industry will have accomplished is to fund jobs at Colorado State University and Air Resource Specialists.

Perhaps you weren’t paying attention last year when dangerous levels of H2S were discovered at four Noble Energy well pads south of Parachute. The COGCC conducted a study that included “selective sample testing of wells in Garfield County operated by Antero Resources, Williams Production RMT, Laramie Energy and EnCana Oil and Gas” — but not Noble Energy of course. According to then COGCC director Dave Neslin the study “indicated only very low levels of the gas [H2S]” and concluded “based on the information we have collected to date, with respect to all of these wells, we have determined that there isn’t a risk to the public.” And they published this nifty little picture book to catapult their propaganda.

We’re like a herd of elephants out here in Gasland. We never forget.

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