Remarks on fracking to the Boulder County Commissioners


[Remarks I made to a meeting of the Boulder County Commissioners regarding oil and gas development in Boulder County, in the public meeting room, 3rd floor, Boulder County Courthouse, Sept 24, 2012. I was about 10th in line, right after Carolyn Bninski from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. The meeting was packed, to standing room only, where the oil & gas spokespersons got to speak first for about an hour. Thereafter, the public was allowed to make comments within three minute periods or pooled periods up to twelve minutes....quite the contrast.]

Good evening Commissioners:

My name is Rick Casey, I have lived at 1118 Centaur Circle in Lafayette since 2003, and have been a Colorado resident since 1981. Thank you for this opportunity to express my concerns as a Boulder County resident.  I am speaking as a concerned citizen, and as a member of East Boulder County United, an anti-fracking citizen's group based in Lafayette.

I hope the Commissioners will decide to postpone approval of the proposed oil and gas development regulations, due to the dangerous and risky hazards posed by fracking. I believe fracking should be banned outright in Boulder County, but recognize the regulatory constraints within which the County must act.  

I have been teaching environmental economics at Front Range Community College since fall of 2009, and have watched with growing alarm as I learned more and more about the dangerously toxic nature of fracking, and, more importantly, the lack of proper regulation of this industry, at the federal, state and local level.

There are many, many anecdotal stories of people who have been sickened, their water wells poisoned, and even forced off their land by the pollution caused by fracking that destroyed their property. Go watch the documentary Gasland; or watch the sequel to it, a video called "The Sky Is Pink"; you will be shocked at what you will see, such as the Weld county resident who can light his water well on fire due to nearby fracking. Then go to YouTube and search on fracking: you'll get over 10,000 hits, many of them devastating stories of people from across the country who have been harmed by the poisoning of their environment.

This industry is vastly under-regulated, and the oil and gas industry has consciously sought to keep it so. I believe this industry and its spokespeople are knowingly deceiving the public and government regulators about the dangers of fracking. Their explicit intention is get their wells drilled, and their money out, before proper environmental regulations are imposed on them. I hope the Board and Commissioners will be aware of the aggressive nature of this strategy, and not be pressured into any quick decisions.

The fact that hydraulic tracking fluids are exempt from our most powerful environmental laws, due to the 2005 Energy Policy Act, known as the "Halliburton Loophole", is an outrageous travesty that has effectively rigged the regulatory table heavily in the favor of the oil and gas industry. New legislation that would close this loophole, the Fracking Responsibility and Chemical Awareness Act, was introduced in 2009 to the Congress in the House and Senate, and was sponsored in part by Jared Polis and Diane Digette.  I suggest that the commissioners become familiar with this proposed legislation, which would put fracking under regulation by the EPA, where it belongs.

But the real dangers of fracking are largely unknown, because it has never been subjected to proper evaluation for its environmental risks. The EPA is conducting such a study right now, a large scale, rigorous analysis, that was started in 2011, which you can find on their website. Preliminary results will be available later this year, with final results available in 2014. I believe the Commissioners should wait for the results of that study before proceeding. 

Another important source of information that I hope the Commissioners will consider is to invite Shane Davis to come and testify for you regarding the toxic environmental effects of fracking. 

[This is where my 3 minute limit cut me off, but the following is what I would have said in conclusion...]

He used to live in Firestone, a community that has been heavily invaded by fracking, but was forced to move for the sake of his and his family's safety, and now lives in Ft Collins.  He is a professional biologist, is head of the Poudre Canyon Sierra Club chapter and has done an extensive analysis of the data from the COGCC website regarding accidents from  surface spills, subsurface pollution, and violations of the setback provisions where wells have been located within the setback limits. He can also provide scientific information on the toxicity of the chemicals that fracking puts into the environment, especially the invisible air pollution from producing gas wells. I have seen his presentation twice now, and believe he has built up a considerable case that shows that the state regulation of fracking has dramatically failed to protect its citizens and the environment from this hazardous activity.  I think the Commissioners would be very interested in what he has to say, and the analysis that he could provide you.

Thank you. 

Comments

Will Toor said…
Hi, Rick. I just came across your blog. One correction - there was not an hour of commentary at the start of the meeting by the oil and gas industry. Any industry comment was required to be in the same 3 minute slots as all other public comment. The meeting started with a presentation by county staff and the consultants the county hired to help develop the draft regulations.

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