Carbondale resident Mary Russell has launched a petition demanding the Bureau of Land Management throw out its contentious draft rule overseeing hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. Russell is calling for an immediate ban on fracking.
Background by Mary Russell:
I recently sold my house in Glenwood Springs because it sits on the edge of the lower Roaring Fork River, threatened by possible hydraulic fracturing in the Thompson Divide. My property value has plummeted since the doubling of oil and gas development around my home in the past ten years. I’ve been diagnosed with asthma since moving into my home five years ago.
Since moving to Colorado in 1991, I’ve seen the public lands I used to swim, bike, hike, and backcountry ski closed to me. No longer can I hike in areas off of Mamm Creek or bike outside of Paonia due to gates erected to keep me out of the public lands my taxes support. I don’t swim in the North Fork of the Gunnison for fear of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing in areas whose creeks feed this river. I used to lead my students through the back roads and trails of Grand Mesa, on skis, bikes, and on foot. The views were spectacular as we hiked the Crag Crest Trail or rode our bikes out to Lands End. Now, the fracking trucks along I-70 and the lights of hydraulic fracturing towers obscure our view.
As a DJ on my community public radio station, KDNK, in Carbondale, Colorado, I played Woodie Guthrie’s song, “This Land is Your Land” on the 4th of July this year. I dedicated the song to all my listeners, and to all the politicians who have lost sight of what democracy means.
President Obama is about to issue his first major policy on fracking. The Bureau of Land Management has issued draft rules for fracking on 600 million acres of public and Indian lands, like those near me in Colorado. Unfortunately, these rules are straight out of the oil and gas industry’s playbook. The provisions on disclosure of the toxic chemicals used in fracking were written by ExxonMobil and taken straight from model bills peddled by ALEC, the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. And the draft rules do nothing to protect watersheds that provide drinking water to millions of people.
We have until August 23 to submit our comments to the Bureau of Land Management, and on August 22, anti-fracking leaders will hand-deliver our comments to the BLM in Washington, D.C.
From Energy Wire
HYDRAULIC FRACTURING: Activist’s petition takes aim at BLM fracking rule (Wednesday, August 21, 2013)
The BLM proposal would tighten standards for cement well casings in an effort to curb concerns about water contamination. It would also compel drillers to report chemicals used during the fracking process to the industry-backed registry FracFocus.org, in addition to other changes.
The elusive idea of a unified federal fracking rule — first raised by BLM in 2010 — has drawn sharp criticism from both sides of the unconventional drilling debate. Environmentalists fear the draft rule doesn’t go far enough to protect public lands, while the oil and gas industry bemoans the prospect of additional costly regulations (EnergyWire, July 22).
On Monday, several GOP leaders in Wyoming issued a letter to Jewell arguing that states have successfully managed fracking in the past and don’t need new federal oversight (EnergyWire, Aug. 20). Republican Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis, in addition to Sens. Michael Enzi and John Barrasso, urged the Interior secretary to exempt Wyoming from the new fracking rule.
BLM floated a similar proposal last year that attracted 177,000 public comments. The Obama administration delayed implementation of the guidelines amid pressure from the oil and gas industry, and the draft was ultimately scrapped (EnergyWire, June 22, 2012) …
… Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, dismissed Russell’s petition as “not substantive.”
“It’s rehashing false info about oil and gas development,” Sgamma said. “It doesn’t inform the [BLM].”
The WEA opposes the new BLM rule on the grounds that it adds unnecessary costs and that states are capable of handling fracking regulations.
The oil and gas industry trade group is preparing to submit its own comments before BLM’s Friday deadline. Sgamma said the roughly 60-page document will include opinions from petroleum engineers and regulatory compliance specialists.
“We are not trying to flood the Bureau of Land Management with form letters, as MoveOn.org is doing,” she said.