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Are Colorado Springs Citizens Being Gagged On Fracking Issue?

Our colleague Lotus has initiated some fruitful correspondence on the subject of the still-impending fracking of the Pikes Peak region. In light of the City’s abrupt cancellation of the May 17 public hearing, we’ll present excerpts of his emails and telephone notes here.

Are Colorado Springs Citizens Being Gagged On Fracking Issue?

The fracking hearing was cancelled. The more I learn about how the fracking issue is being dealt with in Colorado Springs, the more it looks like citizens have very little room for input. This even seems to be true of the way the City Council Advisory Committee on fracking was run – very little room for public input.

The letter from Councilman Val Snider below seems to be saying that the public will only be allowed to respond to the recommendations of the advisory committee, will not be allowed general input concerning the issue of fracking.

It appears that 4-5 people from Huerfano/Las Animas Counties, who have been harmed by fracking, may be willing to speak to the city council and the public here in Colorado Springs. But the process seems to be so closed that it does not appear likely that these people who were harmed will be allowed to speak, allowed to warn people here in Colorado Springs what may be in store for them if they allow fracking in Colorado Springs. The informal Council meetings do not allow for public input. The formal meeting only allow for 3 minutes of input on subjects not on the agenda. And what will be on the agenda may not allow for general input, will be limited to discussion of the recommendations of the committee.

I read articles about how the El Paso County Commission dealt with fracking, and they ignored the recommendations of their own planning commission when they watered down their regulations. Where is the protection of our water, land and air when it comes to fracking? There does not seem to be much of any.

Lotus

From Colorado Springs City Councilman Val Snyder:

Hi Lotus,

The city will not be having any public meetings on fracking. The city will have public meetings on the recommendations of the Oil and Gas Committee on areas of potential regulation for oil and gas activities. The first public meeting on this is May 24, 6-8pm, at the City Administration Building.

There will be opportunities for public comment before City Council, as the potential oil and gas regulations work their way through the process. The first is tentatively scheduled for June 12, a formal Council meeting.

Thank you for your writing.

Val

From a telephone conversation with May Jensen:

Anti-Fracking Info From Mary Jensen & Other Info
(From my notes, so hope is accurate.)

I have been wondering why people from other communities who have been harmed by fracking (their land, water, personally, etc) have not been asked to speak to the local Colorado Springs City Council, El Paso County Commissioners, etc. So I finally located the author of a letter to the editor of the CS Independent, Mary Jensen, who has a doctorate in applied clinical nutrition.

Mary Jensen’s March 8-14, 2012 email:

Fracking concoction by Mary Jensen:

Across the state and the country, there is documented evidence of wells being contaminated by chemicals used in oil and gas fracking. Yet Gov. John Hickenlooper recently demonstrated how supposedly safe fracked water is by taking “a swig of it.”

I am incensed at the example he’s setting — playing Russian roulette by drinking water that may or may not have been sanitized for a cheap publicity stunt. He need only look as far as his own state to see the irreparable harm done to our people, our livestock, our air, our water and our lands.
Here are some materials Hickenlooper might have ingested in his fracked beverage:

• Benzene, a powerful bone-marrow poison (aplastic anemia) associated with leukemia, breast and uterine cancer. It may also cause fatigue, skin and mucous membrane irritation, and narcotic behavior including lightheadedness, disorientation, loss of consciousness and coma.

• Styrene, which may cause eye and mucous membrane irritation, neurotoxic effects in the central and peripheral nervous systems, loss of consciousness and death.

• Toluene, which may cause muscular incoordination, tremors, hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo, emotional instability and delusions, liver and kidney damage, and anemia — besides potential harm to developing fetuses.

• Xylene, with cancer-causing and neurotoxic effects, which can cause reproductive abnormalities and death through respiratory or cardiac arrest. More toxic than benzene and toluene!

• Methylene chloride, which may cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, central nervous system disorders and worse.

• Or any of more than 1,000 other safe “food additives” used by the oil and gas industry.

Hickenlooper is welcome to come down to Huerfano and Las Animas counties to talk with the ranchers and other folks who have been irreparably damaged by these poisons.

— Mary Jensen, Ph.D.

From telephone conversation with Mary Jensen on 5-12-12:

Mary especially emphasized that we should get Josh Joswick to speak to our elected leaders. Josh Joswick: commissioner in southern Colorado’s La Plata County, which successfully fought state regulators and companies in court for a say in oil and gas production.

http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Drilling-threatens-nature-Colorado-residents-say-1968302.php

Josh Joswick is now a Staff Organizer, Oil and Gas Issues the San Juan Citizens Alliance Staff Organizer, Colorado Energy Issues josh@sanjuancitizens.org Josh brings nearly 20 years of experience in dealing with the oil and gas industry to the position of Oil and Gas Issues Organizer. He served three terms as a La Plata County Commissioner from January 1993 to January 2005; in that capacity, locally he worked to see that La Plata County’s oil and gas land use regulations were not only enforced but expanded to protect surface owners’ rights. Josh has dealt with numerous agencies, and legislative and Congressional elected officials, to uphold the rights of local governments to exercise their land use authority as it pertained to oil and gas development, and to assert the right of local government to address with the environmental impacts of oil and gas development.

http://www.sanjuancitizens.org/otherpages/contact.shtml

http://www.spoke.com/people/josh-joswick-3e1429c09e597c10008191b9

Mary Jensen said there are probably at least 4-5 people who have been adversely affected by fracking that would be willing to travel to Colorado Springs in order to speak to the Council. Many people have gone to court and signed a settlement that they later learned prevents them from speaking to the press. Many of these people have spent everything they have fighting the fracking companies in court.

Silencing Communities: How the Fracking Industry Keeps Its Secrets
http://truth-out.org/news/item/9004-silencing-communities-how-the-fracking-industry-keeps-its- secrets

See attached two page fracking information add that was run in the LaVeta Signature and Huerfano County Journal. Organizers paid over $2,000 for these adds.

Mary mentioned that 6 people in her area have died of brain cancer, and another person has brain cancer.

Mary Jensen went on to say that she had heard that drilling down around Trinidad was disastrous in terms of contaminating many wells, but she did not have specifics. Her understanding is that the gas company declared bankruptcy and walked away from it all. (Contaminated wells are not likely to be usable for 100 years.)

In one of the Gazette articles, see below, it said that the Colorado Springs moratorium on fracking ends May 31, 2012. (A reason to extend the moratorium would be in order to provide more time to revise the regulatory structure.)

Mary said that fracking, this dangerous method of oil and gas extraction, is not more effective than simply drilling for oil and gas. Read: Deborah Rogers Transcript of “In Their Own Words: Examining Shale Gas Hype”

Deborah Rogers Transcript of “In Their Own Words: Examining Shale Gas Hype”

Mary said that there is now a network of 14 anti-fracking organizations. The contact for getting on the Grassroots EnErgy activist Network (GREEN) is Citizens for Huerfano County, Kelly Kringel, kkringel@gmail.com

The CHC website is http://www.huerfanofrack.com/.

Also there is going to be a Colorado Grassroots Fractivist Summit, Jun 9, 2012

Mary stated that it was important that I visit the website TEDX http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/home.php and learn about the 600+ chemical used in fracking hundreds of which adversely affect the endocrine system.

http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/home.php

Mary said another important resource on fracking is A Primer for Local Governments on Environmental Liability

http://www.mrsc.org/subjects/environment/envliabprim.pdf

She said that the president of Citizens for Huerfano County, Kelly Kringel, kkringel@gmail.com , would be able to provide me with access to this document. The CHC website is
http://www.huerfanofrack.com/

On http://www.huerfanofrack.com/ I located POW: Protect Our Wells appears to be a mainly Colorado Springs based group. The president is Sandy Martin, 719-351-1640, sandra@protectourwells.org .

Other board members also seem to have CS area phone numbers

http://www.protectourwells.org/ ,
http://www.protectourwells.org/BOD.html .
http://www.huerfanofrack.com/
also listed the Sierra Club
http://rmc.sierraclub.org/ppg/
and Green Cities Coalition, which I am already familiar with.
http://www.greencitiescoalition.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88&Itemid=30

Both of these organizations have people on the committee advising the Colorado Springs City Council on fracking.

Mary said that Perry Cabot from Colorado State University in Pueblo was helping people in her area with base line water studies. These are needed in order to later prove well contamination.

Mary said the Land Owner’s Guide To Oil and Gas Development by the Oil and Gas Accountability Project was another important document. And also the book Oil and Gas At Your Door: 970-259-3353.

Citizens for Huerfano County President, Kelly Kringel, kkringel@gmail.com, asked in an email if I knew Mary Talbott. I do not, so I did a search and came up with:

Mary Talbott & fracking issue:

Commissioner to energy company: ‘We’re scared of you’

http://www.gazette.com/articles/drilling-127253-county-approved.html

Citizens, county respond to frack attack

(Talbott, who is retired from the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment and does not live near prospective drill sites)

County, city leaders to get a present on Tuesday

(She plans to hand them a copy of “Split Estate,” a 75-minute DVD about drilling issues in Rifle, Colo. )

http://thecountyseat.freedomblogging.com/tag/el-paso-county-commissioners/

Talbott presented fracking report to El Paso County Board of Health (bottom p 3)

http://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/sites/default/files/11_14_11_Minutes.pdf

What has happened in El Paso County…Majority of Commissioners Ignored head of own planning commission, and the recommendations of the Commission!

Gazette article:

County adopts slimmed-down oil and gas regulations

ANDREW WINEKE
THE GAZETTE

http://www.gazette.com/articles/talbott-129368-denver-citizens.html

El Paso County commissioners on Tuesday narrowly approved a basic set of regulations to govern oil and gas drilling in the county.

The Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a proposal that was significantly scaled down from what the county’s planning commission approved earlier this month. The regulations govern transportation, emergency response, noxious weeds and, controversially, water quality issues related to drilling.

Commissioners Peggy Littleton and Darryl Glenn objected to the water quality regulations, arguing that the county was overstepping its authority because the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission also regulates drilling-related water issues.

“I think it would be irresponsible for us to open ourselves up to lawsuits,” Littleton said.
The Attorney General’s Office and oil and gas commission director Dave Neslin have expressed concern over the county’s proposed rules, both in the version approved by the planning commission and a trimmed-down version the county’s planning staff developed last week, arguing that the county can’t regulate areas where the state has its rules in place.

However, commissioners Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey said that water quality was too important to leave up to the state.

“I really don’t mind pushing the envelope when it comes to our water quality,” Hisey said.
The water quality monitoring regulations adopted by the county are similar to what the oil and gas commission has agreed to in other counties, requiring wells to be monitored initially for a baseline measurement and then at one, three, and six-year intervals after drilling begins.

The commissioners scrapped most of the rules proposed by the planning commission, including measures that would have governed setbacks from structures and property lines, mitigation of visual impacts and noise and impacts to wildlife. The commissioners will instead try to address those issues by working with the oil and gas commission on an intergovernmental agreement.

Getting some kind of oil and gas regulations in place was vitally important for the county, since a moratorium on oil and gas permits expired at midnight Tuesday and the county had no other regulations in place. Houston-based Ultra Resources has applied to drill six wells in El Paso County, four in unincorporated parts of the county and two more in Banning Lewis Ranch, inside the Colorado Springs city limits. The city imposed its own moratorium and set up a task force to study oil and gas regulations. The task force plans to make a recommendation to City Council by early May.
All of this was decided in a meeting that stretched nearly nine hours Tuesday. Several dozen speakers weighed in on the proposed regulations on each side of the issue.

Jeff Cahill, who lives near the Corral Bluffs Open Space, said that the proposed drilling has already hurt his property values and made it difficult for he and his wife to sell their home.
“They say they’re not going to impact us,” he told the commission. “Well, they’ve already impacted me.”

Steve Hicks, chairman of the El Paso County planning commission, urged the commission to pass more stringent regulations such as those approved by the planning commission.

“At times, there needs to be extra regulation where the state doesn’t go far enough, and this is one of them,” he said.

Other speakers praised the economic potential of expanded oil and gas development in the county.
Bob Stovall recounted his experience as an oil and gas lawyer and a city attorney in Farmington, N.M.

“Air is pretty clean there. Water is pretty clean there – and that’s after 100 years of oil and gas,” he said. “If oil and gas is around in this county, it could be good for us and it can be done well.”

Tisha Conoly Schuller, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the county’s new regulations were a good framework to build on.

“The El Paso County commissioners made significant progress today,” she said. “The rules passed are 90 percent within the guidance provided by the Attorney General. There are still a couple of important issues to work through, but I am confident that the county is serious about finding common ground, and after seeing the progress made today, we will continue to work toward county regulations that are protective of the environment and within the scope of the county’s jurisdiction.”

Read more:

http://www.gazette.com/articles/county-132696-water-quality.html#ixzz1ujNiqAjK

Split Estate: an eye-opening examination of the consequences and conflicts that can arise between surface land owners in the western United States, and those who own and extract the energy and mineral rights below. http://splitestate.com/

http://www.splitestate.com/video_clips.html
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?rh=n%3A2625373011%2Ck%3Asplit+estate+dvd&k eywords=split+estate+dvd&ie=UTF8

“split estate,” in which landowners have surface rights but someone else owns the rights to the underground minerals. Josh Joswick : commissioner in southern Colorado’s La Plata County, which successfully fought state regulators and companies in court for a say in oil and gas production.

http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Drilling-threatens-nature-Colorado-residents-say- 1968302.php ;

http://www.spoke.com/people/josh-joswick-3e1429c09e597c10008191b9

Gasland, a documentary on fracking.
http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/whats- fracking/affirming-gasland ,
http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/
http://gizmodo.com/5905909/gasland-the-definitive-documentary-on-fracking

Frack-happy Ultra Petroleum is the city’s largest private landowner. What kind of neighbor might it be?

Ultra Petroleum Corp., which owns subsidiary Ultra Resources…has most of the leases and permits in El Paso County and Colorado Springs

http://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/close-up/Content?oid=2422410

NMT
Blurb about self

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