Task force cancels Rifle meeting

GarCo gas wellsGovernor Hickenlooper’s and Congressman Jared Polis’s blue ribbon oil & gas task force met in Durango on Thursday and Friday. The only decision they reached is that they will not meet in Rifle on November 5-6, as previously scheduled. The group decided to move to the Front Range to work in communities where fracking was banned. The exact location to be determined. Click here to check for schedule updates.

*Update 10/14:  The Task Force has rescheduled the Rifle meeting for December 10-11*

Of course by not meeting in Rifle they avoid placing themselves in the middle of the gaspatch where residents have been living with the impacts of oil & gas development for more than a decade. They won’t have to hear real life stories about health problems, air pollution, and water contamination.

In 2009, there were about 3,900 active oil & gas wells in Garfield County. As of September 1, there are 10,796 active oil & gas wells in Garfield County. By not meeting in Rifle the task force members won’t have to listen to residents tell them what happens to our air and water quality and our health and quality of life when oil & gas development nearly triples in 5 short years.

They won’t have to risk meeting or staying somewhere with a view of a drilling rig out their window.

Email your comments to the Governor’s Oil and Gas Tas Force at: ogtaskforce@state.co.us

Energy task force draws crowd

People crowded into Durango’s Holiday Inn Thursday to express passionate views for and against industry regulations at the Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force meeting.

Many wore large stickers that read “We support local control” and “Oil and gas feeds my family and yours.” The turnout overwhelmed the parking lot and drew people from all over Southwest Colorado including Dolores, Archuleta and Montezuma counties. Even a few people from the Front Range came to voice their opinions. About 60 people were unable to address the commission because of time constraints …

… Residents raised a variety of concerns including pollution from fracking that could enter the ground water. Extensive aquifer pollution was reported in California this week.

California? If they came to Garfield County they would learn about extensive benzene, methane, and sodium chloride pollution in the West Divide/Wasatch aquifer just south of Silt.

We could tell them about the hydrocarbon plume approximately 1,500 feet long, 308 feet wide and 10 feet thick, or roughly 10.6 acres in area, that still lurks underground north of Parachute, and how Williams pumps the benzene from the groundwater into the air and it forms a cloud and comes back down to the groundwater with the rain – and then they do it all over again. Pollute the groundwater, pollute the air, pollute the groundwater … the perfect example of the endless toxic cycle of fossil fuel contamination.

“The discussion we need to have is not how fracking helps our economy, but how it hurts our health,” said Joanie Trussel of Frack Free, a group from Montezuma County.

Two representatives from Colorado Public Health and Environment addressed the commission during the afternoon and were questioned about known health impacts from drilling.

A representative with the agency, Kent Kuster said he was not aware of any health impacts driven by gas and oil drilling.

“We simply don’t have enough data right now to make that kind of determination,” he said.

Well, I’ll give him that much. It is hard to collect enough data when you aren’t collecting any data at all.

However if they came to Garfield County we could show them that the Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking features three scientific studies in Garfield County that found fracking chemicals in the air and water with the potential to cause harmful health effects that the CDPHE is not collecting data on.

September, 2010 – A health assessment by the Colorado School of Public Health for gas development in Garfield County, Colorado determined that air pollution will likely “be high enough to cause short-term and long-term disease, especially for residents living near gas wells. Health effects may include respiratory disease, neurological problems, birth defects and cancer.”

December 16, 2013 – Lead by Susan Nagel of the University of Missouri School of Medicine, researchers documented endocrine-disrupting properties in chemicals commonly used as ingredients of fracking fluid and found similar endocrine-disrupting activity in groundwater and surface water samples collected near drilling and fracking sites in Garfield County, Colorado. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the activity of hormones in the body and, at very low concentrations, can raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, and neurological disorders, especially when exposures occur in early life.

June 23, 2014 – Building on earlier findings that water samples collected from sites with confirmed fracking spills in Garfield County, Colorado exhibited moderate to high levels of estrogen and androgen-disrupting activity, a University of Missouri team extended their investigation to other types of hormonal effects. As reported at a joint meeting of the meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society, their research documented that commonly used fracking chemicals can also block the receptors for thyroid hormone, progesterone, and glucocorticoids (a family of hormones involved in both fertility and immune functioning). Of 24 fracking chemicals tested, all 24 interfered with the activity of one or more important hormone receptors. There is no known safe level of exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals.

If they came to Garfield County they might be exposed to folks with nosebleeds, headaches, skin lesions, tumors, and chronic infections. They might meet adults and kids with asthma and cancers.

In 2009, there were about 22,000 active oil & gas wells in the entire state. As of September 1, there are 52,556, more than double – in 5 years. In light of that, you’d think little things like, oh, 10% of Colorado children have asthma, increased birth defects and miscarriages, the outbreak of enterovirus-68, and subsequent paralysis of some patients, might pique someone’s curiosity at the CDPHE.

Oil & gas development has more than doubled in Colorado in the past 5 years. At the same time our health, especially our children’s health, is rapidly and alarmingly going to hell. The CDPHE needs to wake up and smell the toxic chemicals in our air pollution. Their ignorance of the public health impacts of oil & gas development is beyond irresponsible. It’s criminal.

Gas panel supports planning

Several members of the Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force have voiced preliminary support for master planning in populated areas where industry development is a new phenomenon.

After a marathon meeting Thursday at the Holiday Inn & Suites, the task force members reconvened Friday to identify problems they wish to address in the coming months before making recommendations to the state Legislature, possibly in February.

“Is there a way short of the bans and ballot issues … that can work for more of the stakeholders at this table?” asked Will Toor, the former Boulder mayor and Boulder County commissioner …

… Some task force members suggested greater planning involving all the oil and gas operators in a county would help community members to know what to expect from development and its cumulative impacts.

Toor said this might help address the question: “What happens if 800 or 1,000 wells come into our county?” …

Oh. Yes. Let’s talk about planning shall we? If they came to Garfield County we could show them what happens when 10,796 wells come into our county. We can show them well pads, spills, pits, well flares, fires, ginormous rigs, injection wells, tank farms, compressor stations, pipeline transfer stations, gas processing plants, air pollution, water contamination, and trucks, trucks, trucks. It’s a free-for-all courtesy of a hands-off-the-industry land use code designed by Tom Jankovsky, John Martin, and Mike Samson – GarCo BOCC.

Garfield County is an oil & gas field laboratory that answers the question: What could possibly go wrong?

If they came to Garfield County they could see what happens when there is no planning and the oil & gas industry runs the show.

A national sacrifice zone.

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7 Comments on “Task force cancels Rifle meeting”

  1. Will Toor Says:

    Peggy – the task force asked that a meeting in Rifle be rescheduled, not eliminated, dropping one of the meetings that would have been in Denver. We felt that it was important to hear early on from the communities that have acted to enact bans and moratoria – since they are clearly a big part of the reason the task force exists.

  2. Beth Strudley Says:

    What a tool of a comment Will. The task force isn’t going to listen to, or help anyone. What a dog and pony show.

  3. Lauren Swain Says:

    Beth, the changes were made to allow a community that passed a ban to have a hearing. It was those who care most about the issue that asked for the change. We’re all frustrated with the compromise but it’s not at all helpful to lash out against those who are trying to make the best of it.

  4. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Will, I stand by what I said on FB which was that this is not inaccurate. The November meeting in Rifle was cancelled. The November meeting will not be held in Rifle and will be held at an unannounced location. As yet the Rifle meeting has not been rescheduled. The location of the November meeting has not been announced. Should cut down on the crowds. Tough to make plans.

  5. Barb Coddington Says:

    I agree with Peggy and appreciate her post. Health issues never have been addressed;nor ever allowed, were complete health studies that would provide the facts necessary to act intelligently. With a small population base and Republican representatives that support jobs {Read, money} over environment and health, we have been silenced on the western slope. Fight like tigers, east slope communities. The tactics are delay with panels and task forces and most important
    tactic allow no measurements of gases released, no baseline water quality measured against water at various stages of drilling; delay, delay, delay until the gas or oil is flowing and so is the money.

  6. Barb Coddington Says:

    Documented; •After an explosion killed a company employee, the safety manager of Weatherford, Texas-based C&R Downhole Drilling told investigators she was new to the position and did not have any formal training in safety. Investigators believe the employee, Tommy Paxton, 45, and four other men were standing in a “flammable vapor cloud” at the Antero Resources site near West Union, W.Va., in 2013 when a spark triggered the explosion. Jason Means, 37, an employee of Nabors Completion and Production Services, was also killed and three others were injured. U.S. EPA in 1998 exempted oil and gas sites from Clean Air Act risk management regulations based on the belief that oil and gas coming out of the ground is “unlikely to form large vapor clouds.”

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