Oil and gas mission creep

Knock-knock South Canyon and New Castle — the wolves are at your doorstep …

drilling rigGuest post by Anita Sherman*

According to the BOCC Agenda for Monday 4/7/14 [3.a.1.viii] the Garfield County Board of Commissioners will approve money for engineering and design on what looks like a “bridge to nowhere” on County Road 137 (Canyon Creek Road). A dead end road in unincorporated Garfield County. Just like the new road developments on East Divide Creek heading toward the Thompson Divide’s west gate, that just seemed to happen overnight without a blip on the public’s radar.

CR 137 is west of Canyon Creek in Glenwood Springs with huge parcels of land snuggled up against the White River National Forest. In fact, the area is a visual Shangri La — a little piece of paradise tucked away in a canyon, where you can pick up the Bear Wallow Ranch for a reasonable $37,500,000.

Whoever owns the big parcels on CR 137 is trying to keep up with the Barretts and Ursas on the Jackson Gulch project in Silt/New Castle, because the commissioners are Johnny-on-the-spot with the county’s checkbook to help build yet another county owned infrastructure. Frackaholic commissioners enabling private for-profit fracking industries extracting federally leased minerals from the BLM under a nation hooked on “frack.” We pay so the global moguls can play — and profit on our dime.

BBC explains the push to develop infrastructure on the Jackson Gulch expansion in a recent article in The Daily Sentinel. Duane Zacadil, from BBC explains they are speculating the MBTU on gas will go up in 2015. The group currently owns 1000 wells in the Piceance that haven’t been drilled since 2012. Zacadil says the the company is trying to work ahead of time so it’s ready when the market does change. Except here’s the glitch: the county is paying for the road engineering, design, developments, and continued maintenance for the industry’s infrastructure, not the industry.

Speculation is being used to describe a manic development frenzy under the auspices of being prepared. Our tax dollars being spent on speculation. Sort of like gambling in Las Vegas. Unless, you have information that prices will go up, and speculation quickly crosses the line and becomes insider trading, which slips into murkier waters still when private interests can hedge their securities with public funds. In that case speculation sounds more like organized racketeering, but then again I’m no “wolf” on Wall Street. What the hell do I know, right?

Just in case the market changes, I guess the frackers just want to be prepared. In fact, being prepared is so important the commissioners didn’t want to burden the public with notifications, reviews, or impact assessments, and decided to start road improvements without us — well before the BLM takes public commentary.

The BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office did announce on 4/2 that it is beginning a 30-day public comment scoping period, which will include open house meetings Apr. 15 in Glenwood Springs, April 16 in Carbondale, and April 17 in Aspen. Written comments must be submitted by May 6. The BLM and our commissioners must know something we don’t, because the announcement has been taken as a green light for the commissioners to expedite road developments on our dime. I guess they didn’t want to have to bother us with the nasty business of having opinions on the matter.

In fact, the commissioners have been very generous in denying any due process, and releasing us from our constitutional and civic duties to due process and equal protection of the law. Affirming our constitutional and human rights to protections from toxic trespassers requires us to speak, and requires elected representatives to listen and act on our will. In Garfield County we’ve elected our commissioners to make certain there is a denial of due process that removes equal protection of the law, and have simply handed over our constitutional and human rights to our elected representatives to think and act for us.

We can take comfort in the knowledge that our concerns will not only be ignored, but they’re no longer needed, and we don’t have to worry ourselves about increasing high impact toxic industry development, or in the ways it will deform our children, poison our air and water, and compromise tourist based economic drivers in Glenwood and Carbondale. Clearly, the commissioners want to invest all of our tax dollars into high impact toxic industries, and we should just let them do it.

Who doesn’t feel relieved knowing we don’t have any county health and safety protections, now that the commissioners removed those redundant 1041 regulations from our local land use codes? The federal regulations on an industry exempt from all the major environmental protections statutes are more than adequate. Aren’t they? The GarCo commissioners said they were.

No more compliance. No more public review, locally. No more impact assessments, transparency, and accountability on developments using our tax dollars. All abolished by an act of a legislative authority that said we no longer have any sovereignty to our our local governing system. All we have to do is pay our money, and the commissioners will spend our dollars on infrastructure for high impact private globally developed toxic trespassing industries. Taxation without representation. under due process, and equitable protection of the law.

Garfield County it’s time to wake up!


Anita122013Anita Sherman* is a consultant for Blue Wing Strategies, LLC in Glenwood Springs CO, and co-founder of the citizens advocacy group Garfield Transparency Initiative. She has two children, and a pledged supporter of the international collaborative The Mothers Project.  Sherman was recently named one of 100 national #FrackingFighters, a citizens direct action initiative by MoveOn.org, and a Co-Lead Plaintiff for a proposed citizens federal class action challenging the constitutionality of Colorado State’s enforcement of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission over Home Rule municipalities. She was elected as board President in 2013 for the non-profit Growing Food Forward, an organization that addresses hunger relief to the food insecure from Aspen to Parachute CO, with fresh organically cultivated produce. For over three decades, Sherman has been a strong community voice in lobbying legislation that provides equal protection of the law to ensure social justice with a focus on human rights to clean air, clean water, and property protections from industrial impact.

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3 Comments on “Oil and gas mission creep”

  1. Soren. Says:

    Hi. Thanks for this notice on the CR 137 bridge. Do you know where exactly this project would be located on 137? Closer to the bottom/I70 or closer to the dead dead end up canyon creek?

  2. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Soren, I don’t know the answer.

  3. Sandra Says:

    Anita – Might you have wording for a petition? I think they are a good way to get “votes against” so to speak from those of us not able to go to the meetings. Not sure if petitions would count as the written objections with the May deadline or should they be turned in at the meeting? If you could post the wording I will print them and get them out to businesses and offices as well as personally getting signatures.

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