Routt County residents voice concerns at oil, gas event

County hosts work session to get public feedback

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A group of community members urged the Routt County Planning Commission to proceed with caution when considering oil and gas exploration.

More than 60 people attended the oil and gas work session that followed the Planning Commission meeting Thursday. Of those who attended, 28 spoke, including three representing the oil and gas industry. But most expressed concerns that oil and gas exploration could lead to negative impacts on the community.

“I want to make sure Routt County doesn’t turn into Garfield County, where there are well pads everywhere as far as the eye can see,” Steamboat resident Justin Hirsch said. “We all live here for a reason, the natural beauty, and I don’t want to see that destroyed.”

The industry representatives said they wanted to work with residents to address their concerns.

“I’m here today to listen and let you know there are impacts from oil and gas development,” said Liz Gallaway, an attorney with Denver law firm Beatty & Wozniak, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. “I don’t deny that, but I do think it can be done responsibly.

“At the end of the day, conflict between the industry and you guys isn’t good for anybody.”

The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission oversees the industry statewide.

Routt County Planning Director Chad Phillips said the county is working on a revision to its oil and gas regulations, which first were adopted in 1972. He presented examples from other governments, in and outside Colorado. From those examples, he suggested 19 possible additions to the county’s regulations.

Planning Commission Chairman Jay Gallagher explained that the possible additions hadn’t been compared with state regulations or reviewed by the county’s attorney.

The residents in attendance, many of whom live near a proposed oil well in the Saddle Mountain Ranchettes subdivision on Routt County Road 179 near Milner, said they worried that oil and gas exploration and development could lead to water and air quality issues, create noise and ruin streets.

Hirsch and other community members urged the county to impose a moratorium on future oil and gas drilling applications.

Quicksilver Resources, of Fort Worth, Texas, has the county’s only active drilling site on Wolf Mountain. The state has approved three others that the county is considering.

Phillips said he would present the public feedback to the Routt County Board of Commissioners at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 6. He said commissioners could give him direction for next steps at or after that meeting.

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

kathy foos 2 years, 10 months ago

The county is the ONLY one with any control.The Gas Commission,in my opinion is pro-oil.Examples:It has been law in Colorado for a year that oil facilitys be signed and fenced to protect the public,I still see facilitys that do not comply.The Carpenter Ranch is greedy ,bad conservation , located near the river , ranchers and farmers well water.,no respect.Thanks , Carpenter Ranch hope you got enough money from this , so you dont have to sell that land out in some other money grubbing way.If they find the oil they are seeking, potentially,this county will be out of control with fracking,if you give them what they want .They probably already know what they found,just not saying.,gotta get that foot in the door before they shove a few more wells on us VIA the Gas Commission Rules.The EPA does not support the rules of the Gas Commission on fracking,they recommend a different more expensive procedure and the Gas Commission and big oil dont like that.That should be a first clue to stop this now.Under ground surface water is everywhere,deep fossil waters and lots of streams rivers and lakes.Is anyone monitoring the air around this butane burnoff.?Please dont approve any additional wells at least for 6 months,untill more is known about the effects that this one is having.See if there is any way to hold them responsible for damages that they may already have incurred when fracking on Wolf mountain without permission ,when the comish thought it was a simple well.That does not sit right that they just went ahead and did it without permission ,except in fine print.Are you going to let them get away with that?If you do,they will do whatever they want,just as they already did at Wolf mountain.The EPA will not finalize new rules for protecting against bad fracturing process untill Feburary.It seems way premature to approve anything with winter headed this way and the EPA protections not finalized,see how powerful you are county comish?You can either bypass EPA and help the oil industry,or protect this valley from looking like Texas.

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Andrew Bisbee 2 years, 10 months ago

All the way around this is bad. Bad for the environment and bad for tourism.

No matter what is promised all the toxic chemicals will cause issues at some point. How could dumping 25 cancer causing chemicals that are hazardous to life into the earth not be. Pretty obvious.

Let's not let oil and gas ruin where we live as it has ruined other communities.

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Andrew Bisbee 2 years, 10 months ago

Oh... and here is our slogan... "Get the frack out of here!"

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 10 months ago

We don't rely on foreign sources of oil because we don't have enough of our own. It is a reliance mandated by an intrusive government arbitrarily dictating which of our own recources we can and cannot extract. Colorado & Wyoming boast deposits which rival those of Saudi Arabia. Throw in the offshore reserves, and those beneath a rock quarry called ANWR, and we could meet our energy needs for the next century. Not to mention the job creation and economic growth that would result.

On the other hand, we could cave to the NIMBYs and continue to rely on hostile regimes for the energy we need. Prices go up and the economic hole gets even deeper.

The price of Jet A is over $7/gallon today at YVRA. Care to speculate what happens to our local economy when it climbs to $8, $9, or $10?

Drill, baby drill!

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sedgemo 2 years, 10 months ago

Sep, I don't think anyone has issue with using our own resources, the difficulties arise from how it occurs, and what impacts occur both during and after the extraction.

Mineral rights have been bought and sold, but so have surface rights. These come into opposition when both types of owner have different values attached to those rights.

Nobody wants to be owned by Foreign Oil, but nobody wants a hit-and-run toxic waste dump in their neighborhood, either. The fact that exploration companies largely ship in crews from other places, then leave, means they have no interest in the long term situation of any community. They are in business and have a right to make a profit from it, which requires constantly moving on. In our times we are aware of what this can mean to the health of the people and the environment they leave behind, including what cards are left on the table for future generations.

Folks who sell or lease mineral rights have the legal right to make money off their land, but not the moral right to poison groundwater and air, sicken neighbors and destroy area surface property values.

The resources will still be there in the future, there is no automatic reason to follow the old "boom and bust" cycle we all know so well. It may be future generations will be better able to extract and use these resources less intrusively, and less expensively.

This activity has many tentacles. Examples from our own neighbors sharply remind us of the law of unintended consequences. The stakes here could be very high.

It could cost far more than it pays in if we end up with Superfund sites around Routt County. The Shell rep there last night carefully pointed out how every project, site, and situation is different... which is a double-edged sword for all concerned. Can anyone say BP? Exxon Valdez? We need accountability and responsible safeguards in place that honor both sides of the issue.

Though the County has limited sway vs. State law, many people suggested last night we consider a year long moratorium on permitting in Routt County, which seems wise.

Nobody living here wants the tail wagging the dog.

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riverotter 2 years, 10 months ago

Kathy you should change your name Miss Information. I agree that the fracking process of oil extraction in the Niobrara should be investigated and respectful of public opinion. Agreed that Quicksilver should be held accountable for their process, regulations, and the EPA as well as other organizations should consider measuring air quality, water quality, and accounting for long-term impact of this type of energy development in the Yampa Valley. However, you should carefully review where you are placing the blame and greed in this instance. The Carpenter Ranch is being encroached upon from all sides with the power plant, Xcel Energy railroad spur and now its last view is of a butane gas flame. It is the last bastion of conservation in Morgan Bottoms and has taken the brunt of energy development all around it. What you seem confused about is that where this well exists, is altogether another conversation. The mineral rights on Wolf Mountain were severed long ago like many other pieces of land and not owned by the current land owner and these are the questions of significance. Do not bite the hand that feeds you. The Carpenter Ranch is not profiting or receiving money from this, they don’t own the land or the mineral rights. How unfortunate that you think that they are somehow profiting from this. Do YOUR HOMEWORK! This is a complicated conversation and before you go unjustly accusing, check your facts. Conservation organizations are doing what they can to prevent this, but we have to ask the government agencies that have authority to force these companies to the right thing. It is government responsibility to protect our air and our water. Instead of scolding and convincing maybe we should try some collaboration, working with the folks that care about this the most and have the resources to make informed decisions in this field.

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canyonwind 2 years, 10 months ago

biz how are a handfull of drillpads gonna kill our ski indusrty???? Then you have these DUMB F###'s out in California protesting the OIL SAND Pipeline that go's no where near that state. The current BLOOD FOR OIL energy policy is not working and we need more US drilling, maybe if we would drill off the CA coast, Gulf Coast and the entire East coast from Maine to Key West along with Colorado,Wyoming and the North Slope of Alaska we could end the Depression and all these WARS if we all would just grow a pair but don't get me wrong these oil outfits need to do the job right or not bother there is no reason why we can't have both a ski and oil and gas industry, they seem to do a good job in western Wyoming.

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kathy foos 2 years, 10 months ago

Sep.its "SUE BABY Sue" Call me what you want,MISS information Ha,Oh that hurts so bad!Never said I know it all.You do river rotter?

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sledneck 2 years, 10 months ago

Sun, If you would hit the space bar after the . or after the ! or after the ? or after the , etc, then your comments would be much easier for my tired old eyes to read.

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jacksprat 2 years, 10 months ago

Miss Information should try educating herself first, before she attempts to educate the public with her rants and raves. I know elementary children who can compose better sentences and paragraphs (you do know what a paragraph is, right?) and at least have a fundamental understanding of the English language.

If drilling on private property is of such concern to you, perhaps YOU should buy up the mineral rights in question and lock them up into perpetuity. That would be walking the walk. However, I am sure your lack of education also prevents you from making the money that that would require. Instead, you get on your high horse and dictate to others, what their course of action should be on their private property.

An education can be an excellent path to a secure and lucrative future. You should try investing in one.

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the_Lizard 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't mind the no space bar writing style. I am prone to adding commas here and there, when the mood strikes. What bothers me is the absolute disregard for facts that certain posters are guilty of. The anti-energy crowd in Routt county as well a throughout the country are helping make a hostile environment for people that are trying to create jobs through the promotion of burdensome regulations or out right bans on energy production. People should realize that the rising cost of energy (remember Obuma saying electricity prices wil necessarily rise) affects every aspect of our lives. Yes, even the tourism industry. So the whiners bitch about the lack of jobs on the one hand, on the other they help create this lack of jobs by trying to destroy the very backbone of a healthy economy....energy

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jacksprat 2 years, 10 months ago

You are spot on Lizard.

I was up in North Dakota this fall, where they were hoping to tie into the proposed XL pipeline coming down from Canada. Senator John Hoeven offered to fast track a new route along an existing pipeline in eastern North Dakota, when the original route going through eastern Montana and Nebraska was delayed. The government says it needs ANOTHER 18 months to study it, essentially killing the project.

North Dakota wants to drill 30,000 to 50,000 new wells in the next 20 years, from the Bakken oil formation, many that are producing 1,000 barrels of oil a day. We need new infrastructure and pipelines to get this oil to market. The current administration opposes this drilling every chance it gets. Their rhetoric about producing jobs for our economy is just that. Obama punts every chance he gets. This is a fundamental lack of leadership, at a time when we need it most.

What's going on in Routt County is exactly the same delay and deny tactics the Obama Administration is using, only on a smaller scale. We now have an opportunity to put America back to work, secure a dependable energy supply and cut our dependence on mid-eastern oil. When are we going to wake up?

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 10 months ago

@kathy: As you so eloquently put in to Karl Koehler (Green hypocrisy)

"Oh What ever."

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sedgemo 2 years, 10 months ago

Liz, I don't see this as either/or. If development occurs with more regulation and oversight, that creates jobs (and income taxes) as well. Let's be clear, though. The primary goal of energy development is not job creation but profit creation. I doubt anyone sold or leased their mineral rights hoping to create jobs for someone else. They sold for money.

Likewise, exploration corporations don't buy those right with the intent to create the (mostly) temporary jobs they provide... they are looking to make a profit through productive wells. They are gambling. Most exploratory sites will not prove viable now, but a few will. Some will cost too much to be viable in this economy but might become more profitable in later years.

Pursuing profit is fine but the bottom line has to include costs related to safe exploration, extraction, and cleanup, in a sort of "closed loop" itself. Otherwise one entity gains at the expense of the entire community, who (in example after example) are left holding the bag, facing more or less permanent disruptions when the developers move on.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 10 months ago

@Pheobe and Kathy:

I find Kathy's 'creative' spelling, grammar, punctuation, and aversion to paragraphs sufficiently hard to slog through that I ignore the vast majority of her remarks.

That is not meant as a slight - it just is what it is.

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sledneck 2 years, 10 months ago

I kind of agree with you, Sedgemo. The point is not just to make money. It's to produce cheap, abundant energy while not leaving a huge mess for society to have to deal with. It can and should be done that way economically.

Man has found very clever ways to reduce his footprint; not just in energy production but in timber, mining and a host of other indusrties.

The extreme greens act as if the smallest intrusion into the natural world is devastating and irreparable. I have been in the land development business for decades and heavily into timber many years ago. If people are considerate, the environment can return amazingly well and qucikly. I bet most of the extreme greens around Routt County have no idea what it looked like 150 years ago when mining was heavy. They would have totaly freaked. To act as if nature can not and should not repair itself is just silly.

Also, profit has a way of translating into jobs most of the time. And when the prospect for profit goes away, so does production, innovation and investment.

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sedgemo 2 years, 10 months ago

Sled, I guess I am honored you agree with me, but it is true this continent has been inhabited for thousands of years by various human cultures. Nothing can really be defined as pristine but could perhaps be defined as undefiled. Most everyone enjoys being in natural areas, but by definition our presence there defeats our notions of wilderness. However small, we humans do impact our environment wherever we go. But Nature keeps moving, as you pointed out, and in some form will most likely be alive long after humans are gone.

What's been missing in the decision-making process are values that don't have as specific price tag attached, and the notion of what sort of future we hand those who follow. The challenge is to balance these things carefully, with an eye beyond (but not excluding) the instant buck, looking towards the overall sustainable use of what we have.

Years ago I did contract selective cutting, horse logging sensitive woodlands with a minimal hoofprint... owners were able to keep their family lands due to the income from the logs (taxes forced many to sell), improve their woodlands, and in less than two years there was no way to tell we had been in the woods other than the low, flush stumps. The woods were regenerating quickly due to the increased sunlight and reduced competition among older trees.

So I agree, we can (and should) be intelligent about how we move forward. The polarizing rhetoric on both sides helps none but creates an environment of suspicion and hostility. Can't we all work together?

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sledneck 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't know if we can work together or not. It would be desireble. I remember as a kid draging logs out with horses too. Trying to ride the spinning logs behing the horses while dad warned of the perils of getting spun underneath one of them.

There is value in wilderness. As much as I play the Devil on this blog, I can still acknowledge that. I would not trade my favorite quiet places for the best snowmobiling I've ever done.

But the outside world demands our participation; and if we refuse it will go elsewhere. Some say "fine, let it go"; but when it goes it will take our nations exceptional wealth with it. We will be left alone with our natural resources but with no ability to enjoy them. If anyone thinks this is an impossible paradox, I would suggest they looke at Affrica. A continent rich in natural resources but too poor to enjoy them. That's where we are headed if we don't wake up.

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trump_suit 2 years, 10 months ago

Energy exploration and evironmentalism do not have to be mutually exclusive. What is so wrong with the energy companies telling us what the chemicals being used are? Why is air quality testing not done on the burnoff? What exactly are these comapnies trying to hide?

It seems to me that if individuals and corporations are using toxic or dangerous chemicals to their operations, those chemicals should be publically known so that when the public experiences heavy metal contaminations and water quality issues, we will know when those chemicals were used and by whom. The county certainly shut down the salvage yard in South Routt over similar concerns. Why are the energy companies given a free pass?

Allowing these corporations to hide their activities will expose the public to their decisions to cut corners in the name of profit.

County Commissioners: Are you listening? Please require independent air quality testing of the burn off and mandate that these companies disclose each and every chemical being used in the process.

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sedgemo 2 years, 10 months ago

Trump, they aren't testing emissions because it isn't required by the state or the feds apparently. Why on earth would O&G companies add expensive procedures on wells that may prove useless? Added expense + no guaranteed return + no long-term commitment to our community = bad business model. They may or may not be hiding anything, I don't have enough information to determine that, but I do have concerns about past events in other areas. Among them:

Many sources claim the proprietary chemical mixtures being used are "safe" or "green" but define neither. Green food dye is cheap... and even table salt in concentration destroys soil.

Being overlooked is that even if the various "safe" chemicals pumped into wells are identified, anything being flamed off is being converted into other substances via combustion. What is sent airborne may or may not be benign, especially for those living downwind. Since our primary air flow here is west to east, where the Yampa doglegs through Steamboat is a natural catchment for airborne emissions from western Routt Co.

I understand the flame-off is typically short lived (a couple of weeks) but in aggregate (someone here mentioned 1,000 wells proposed for Routt Co.) flame-off byproducts could create some serious air pollution even with non-toxic components. With multiple flame-offs occurring at once there would be no way to trace anything to a single site or operator.

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JLM 2 years, 10 months ago

Not to squelch a good rant but you have to have profitable companies to provide employment --- jobs.

Because job holders want to get paid in cash not goodwill.

Profit and jobs are not mutually exclusive --- they are indelibly linked.

No profits, no jobs.

Profit is created by market demand.

Demand creates new jobs.

You want jobs --- do what you can to assist in creating profitable companies to create and pay for those jobs.

This is not calculus. This is simple math.

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trump_suit 2 years, 10 months ago

Are corporate profits and jobs worth the contamination of the Yampa Valley with heavy metals and salts from unregulated/unmeasured burnoff?

I don't know if this is the cost and neither do you. The fact is that this industry has been guilty of these kinds of infractions as long as there has been an oil/gas industry. Spills and contamination are widely documented.

All I am saying is "measure twice, cut once" Why can't these emissions be measured and documented? What is the industry scared of? The expense of air sampling must be neglligible compared to the cost of the heavy equipment and manpower to drill a hole 5 miles deep.

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the_Lizard 2 years, 10 months ago

Jacksprat, so true! Plus, Canada wants to sell it's oil, but if squeamish Americans continue to live in their green goggled utopia, they will turn to China. " building at least two pipelines, one south to the Texas Gulf Coast and another west toward the Pacific....But if the U.S. doesn't approve its pipeline promptly, Canada might increasingly look to China, thinking America doesn't want a big stake share in what environmentalists call "dirty oil," which they say increases greenhouse gas emissions." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/27/china-canada-oil-sands-alberta-tar_n_885032.html Wonder how environmentally conscious China is? snicker

sedgemo "If development occurs with more regulation and oversight, that creates jobs (and income taxes) as well" So for instance if a new regulation comes down the pike that is redundant or superfluous it creates jobs and taxes because the reg. must be engineered, built installed etc...hmmm sounds like the allegory of the broken window.

The reason for any business is wealth creation, not necessarily job creation although that's a fortunate byproduct of success. Also, people that lease to gas/oil companies do it for their own profit, so what's the point? JLM said it better, but bears repeating. Do you not know anyone that works either directly for a gas/oil company or for a supporting business? I can't understand what people are talking about when they say there are no jobs related to the industry, or the only entity making a profit is the gas/oil industry. The bottom line is, these companies do have to include, "safe exploration, extraction, and cleanup," in their bottom line. They are required by law, but perhaps you already know that after reading the rules and regs CO requires. Communities are left holding the bag? Garfield county for example? "Garfield County has approximately $120 million in cash reserves — nearly $100 million in budgetary fund balances, and $21 million in a special energy mitigation fund fed by federal mineral lease fees and mineral severance taxes — largely thanks to the oil and gas industry, according to a county report.

The oil and gas industry has contributed significantly to Garfield County's institutional and financial well-being over the years, both through property taxes and federal mitigation funds, said Lisa Dawson, director of the county's administrative services department." http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20111107/NEWS/111109866 Of course after reading a couple of articles about Garfield county, it sounds like their commisioners are fiscally conservative. They have maintained Garfield county's finances at a high level, best in the state, even though there has been a downturn on the industry. Sedgemo, something of interest for you, maybe you have already commented but go to http://cogcc.state.co.us/ and "The Commission encourages the public to participate in the rulemaking hearing by commenting on the proposed regulations."

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sedgemo 2 years, 10 months ago

Liz, thanks for the link. I will check it out. Nothing about this situation seems to be simple, I am attempting to become more informed about it in general, and in specific.

My comment about regulations creating jobs was simply to point out its not a "jobs or no jobs" situation to pursue exploration as is, or with additional oversight. Not sure what you meant about the broken window, though.

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sledneck 2 years, 10 months ago

Broken window theory suggests that if you break windows it is somehow actually helpful to the economy because it puts glass makers and installers back to work. A totally preposterous and somewhat Keynesian notion, I think.

The problem with that logic is that it fails to take into account that the shopkeepers expense for the new window would have/ could have been spent on more productive things... braces for his kids, a bigger store, a new delivery truck, etc thus making the unnecessary replacement of windows an actual DRAIN on the economy rather than a "stimulus"..

A good example of its attempted use in recent times is when the government paid people to destroy working automobiles and trade them in for new ones.

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the_Lizard 2 years, 10 months ago

You're welcome segdemo, I think if you want to comment you must hurry. The closing date is the 23rd I believe.

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sedgemo 2 years, 10 months ago

http://cogcc.state.co.us/

Thanks, Liz. Everyone reading this, please investigate this link and click on online comments there. I am surprised to see only a few comments posted there, and even more that none are from our County. This is a statewide (and national) issue about fracking fluid ingredient disclosure. Apparently most "proprietary blends" are safe enough, if you don't drink them, shower in them, breathe their fumes, or let your livestock, pets or wildlife ingest them. (sarcasm intended but supported by events).

One letter includes the suggestion these blends should be legally patented if they are truly Trade Secrets, and if they are not patented, should be fully disclosed and/or disallowed. These secret mixtures can create an emergency responder nightmare (just what is it that exploded all over the drill pad?), and could potentially be a Homeland Security concern as well.

If there's nothing to hide, it should not be hidden. The fluids themselves are only part of the process, and since every site is a bit different it stands to reason the fluids are not the sole link to profitable drilling.

Two more days to offer input to COGCC, folks.

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kathy foos 2 years, 9 months ago

The EPA has extended the comment time on the Clean Air Act.Please let them know how you feel about the gas fracturing.They dont plan on stopping the process,just make it safer and the oil companys dont want the regulations.The COGCC does not want them either they asked the EPA not to interfere,please comment about this to the EPA we need them to interfere,Last Chance to be heard,then you just have to live with it all.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 9 months ago

American Airlines files Chapter 11: http://news.yahoo.com/american-airlines-parent-seeks-ch-11-protection-130619191.html

"FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines and its parent company are filing for bankruptcy protection as they try to cut costs and unload massive debt built up by years of high fuel prices and labor struggles. There will no impact on travelers for now."

American sends two airliners a day - a 737 & a 757 - to YVRA during season. It is communities like ours that will eat some of the first bullets fired from the left's punitive energy arsenal.

Jet A is $7.19/gallon today at YVRA.

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housepoor 2 years, 9 months ago

Seems like filing for Chapter 11 is SOP for airlines.

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

I have flown many miles on many airlines. I have never been treated worse than I was on an American Airlines trip 3 years ago. I understand Sep's point and mostly agree, but... Treat your customers like $**t and reap the whirlwind, far as I'm concerned.

Wonder if congress will step in and buy their opperation away from their creditors and give it to their union? After all, it is "AMERICAN" airlines. Maybe the City and County will institute a new tax on it's subjects to help American continue flying here. Better yet , why don't the county and city go in halfsies and buy those 2 planes and form an airline of their own. That way they can sell food in the air AND on the ground?.

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