Saturday, November 26, 2005
The lead article in last Sunday's Steamboat Pilot & Today ------ "Group paves way for roadless issue" -- states that Western Colorado Congress is "extremist" according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. As the local representative of the WCC, I am compelled to respond to this characterization.
The congress is a grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the public interest specifically in the use of water, energy and public lands. One of our greatest priorities has recently become the protection of our water quality against the rapidly rising threats of pollution by the oil and gas industry. By the end of 2005, we expect to see more than 4,000 new well-drilling permits granted in Colorado, but because of under funding (only 3 well inspectors are available for the Western Slope) it is virtually impossible for the proper authorities to monitor this sudden increase in wells. I have personally observed many well sites in Western Colorado that were not in compliance with what few regulations exist.
In Montrose County, a landowner -- working on his own property more than a half-mile from a gas well -- was seriously disabled (he could easily have been killed) when he unknowingly breathed in some hydrogen sulfide gas that an energy company had released into the well it was "fraccing" (fraccing is a process whereby chemicals -- many of them toxic -- are pumped into underground gas reservoirs to enable a greater flow of natural gas towards the surface). Our state does not have any meaningful control over the placement of these substances underground. he oil and gas association has successfully lobbied against such regulations. magine what damage these poisons will have on local water supplies, which they inevitably will seep into!
Widespread water pollution problems are also just waiting to happen, particularly if the industry continues to block any control of well-site runoff. The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission has moved to regulate storm-water discharges from any disturbance of ground surfaces greater than one acre in size. These rules apply to all construction sites, whether for warehouses, residences, gas stations or gas wells. Plenty of evidence proves that runoff from well sites causes erosion, pollution and sedimentation. But COGA is arguing that its industry should be exempted from the commission's regulations. The oil and gas association claims it can serve the public interest and that there is no further need of government oversight!
The primary interest is in preserving water quality; we are constantly fighting these polluters.he association's primary interest is in maximizing profits for the oil and gas industry; it easily controls what meager enforcement comes from the state regulatory commission.
ask you, which group is extremist?