Colorado’s Front Range is Under Fracking Siege

14 Jan

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Unless you live in a cave (lucky you!), you’ve probably heard about the recent explosion in efforts to drill for the natural gas that lies deep beneath our feet. The entire oil & gas industry seems to be descending upon Colorado, exploring and drilling thousands of new wells. A number of reasons have been cited for the burst in activity, including the belief that because natural gas burns cleaner than conventional coal, it is a feasible “fuel of the future”.

We’d like to add ourselves to the list of people calling bullshit on this claim.

Setting aside the fact that natural gas requires an industrial infastructure (roads, vehicles, corporate financing, metal & mining & petroleum to produce the equipment, etc.)– which is functionally unsustainable and incompatible with a living planet–and is inherently disrespectful and violating of the living communities which are destroyed throughout the process, recent studies have shown that accounting for the emissions of methane and other gases during the extraction process results in the total greenhouse gas emissions of natural gas to be at least as much as those of coal.

In addition, the process of hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) is now a standard technique in as many as 90% of all natural gas drilling operations. Fracking is a fun thing the industry does to suck as much oil as possible from the bones of the Earth. Starting with a mixture of sand and water, a mix of hundreds of different chemicals (MANY of them poisonous or carcinogenic, such as lead, benzene, and diesel fuel) are added. Then our good friends out at the well pump this mixture down the bore of the well at super high pressures, with the goal of creating fractures and fissures in the rock and thus creating space for additional oil to flow up the well.

Who are the maniacs that come up with these ideas….and where do they live?

In theory, all the poisonous, carcinogenic, radioactive “frack fluid” (underground, the fluid picks up radon–a radioactive gas–before returning to the surface) is contained within steel and concrete casings in the well and is kept safely away & isolated from the rest of the world after being used.

As is so often the case however, our most utopian dreams and planning don’t line up with reality. Spills, contamination, and a chronic inability to abide by regulations are common. A recent study of Canadian natural gas drilling operations found that more than 10% of well sites were contaminated with chemicals, and the reaction of frack fluid with underground rock has contaminated ground water in Pennsylvania with methane, leaving residents’ drinking water flamable. Would you feel safe drinking water that did this?

Former rig operators in Pennsylvania and Canada have come out publicly to denounce the practice and the industry, saying that well operators routinely cut corners with a reckless disregard for human and nonhuman safety.

Communities across Colorado are terrified of what the recent boom in drilling means for their families and lands–and with good reason, after hearing horror stories about small towns that were fracked to hell in Pennsylvania and New York. Longmont, Colorado Springs and others have passed ordainences putting a moratorium on new drilling operations as they study the effects of fracking and the dangers of pumping carcinogenic water underground.

Erie, Colorado has found itself to be one of these new battlegrounds. Despite all the reassurances that industry money can buy, residents refuse to be led quietly down the road to “frackdom.” Fury reached a fever pitch when Encana Corp. (a Canadian company) announced plans to drill 8 new wells between two elementary schools. In response to the push by Encana, an ad-hoc group of community women created Erie Rising to fight fracking in their community. The group is among a host of Erie community members that have called for a  moratorium of fracking operations in the area.

But halting drilling for a few months at a time isn’t a real solution to the problem. We need a permanent ban! And not just on the use of hydraulic fracturing; if there’s one thing civilization is good at, it’s inventing news ways to ravage peoples and the planet. Regardless of how the industry gets the stuff out of the ground, it just ends up being used to power smelters for beer cans or some other insane project. We need to stop ALL oil & gas exploration and drilling!

Fractvists unite!!

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