John Weibel: What the frack!


The biggest problem I see with fracking is the disposal of the process’ waste water. One-third of the injected water returns to the surface, as do most of the chemicals. The “proper” disposal of this water mixture is an evaporation pond. They cannot build these ponds fast enough to dispose of the fracking fluids.  

In order to expedite the evaporation of this water, they use water cannons to spray a mist of water into the air. The problem is that they also have put those top secret fracking chemicals into the atmosphere and eventually back into our watershed and foodshed.

At some point, we need to start holding the current paradigm accountable. Those who are spaying toxins into the environment need to pay for the harm done to others’ private property. I can think of no other industry that is able to dispose of its waste like this.

John Weibel

Steamboat Springs


mark hartless 2 years, 5 months ago

To me, the lefts argument of holding the energy industry accountable for the "true cost" of our fossil fuels is understandable, logical and reasonable. If we factored everything into the equation perhaps gasoline should indeed be $6-9/ gallon.

But let us also apply that logic to some other programs that are darlings of the left, shall we?

For instance, "At some point we need to start holding the" un-wed fathers and mothers of children accountable. "Those who are [bringing illigitimate children into the world] need to pay for the harm done to others..."

Or "At some point we need to start holding the" fannie-mae's and Freddie Mac's accountable. "Those who are responsible for the mortgage meltdown need to pay for the harm done to others."

Or "At some point we need to start holding the" Solyndra's of the world accountable. "Those who [take taxpayer money and go bankrupt] need to pay for the harm done to others."

John Weibel is not thinking very hard. I can think of dozens of "industries that are able to dispose of their waste like this."


Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

Mark, We should link the Routt pollution mentioned John's letter to Freddie Mac, Solyndra and unwed parents?

You insert some "darlings of the right", not the left. Popular talking points, maybe somewhere, but perfect arguments yours are not.

Mandatory capturing of current leaks of natural gas and VOC's into the atmosphere you support. Ending the practice of "flaring" you support. Preventing spills and pursuing well casing failures you support. Yes?


mark hartless 2 years, 5 months ago

Pardon me Lewi, for not offering arguments to which you would ascribe "perfection". One wonders if such exists...

I actually do suport much of the controls on gas production that you advocate, Lewi. We are not that far apart there except I realize that man's imperfection does not allow for the complete prevention of spills or well casing failures, etc. That would be akin to advocating for no airplanes until they can be proven 100% crash-free. Airplanes are RELATIVELY safe and, to the extent that gas production is made and kept RELATIVELY clean and safe, I'm all for it. It can be done.

I did not say gas production should be LINKED to my other examples.

What I said was the same LOGIC should apply. That is: If we are going to hold polluters completely accountable for their pollution, and we certainly should, and if we are to do all in our power to cause the true cost of energy to be born by the causing entity, including its cost to "the commons", then we should also hold others accountable for their actions which do similar harm to "the commons".

Unfortunately, the left seems only to advocate this philosophy on matters of energy production.
It's kind of like how they are always ranting about being "pro-choice" yet I rarely find anything outside of abortion which the left wants me to be able to choose without their help... Would you please offer some examples apart from energy production of areas where the left wants the causing entity to bear the cost? Seriously, I can't think of many...


Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

Mark, If the oil and gas industry carried regulation and over sight similar to airlines, I would be satisfied. A given Colorado well is inspected by CDPHE's 4.2 inspectors about once every 10 years, per their statements to the BOCC. The inspection has no correlation to well activity or phase. I don't consider that RELATIVELY adequate oversight. I consider that the joke that oil and gas regulation and oversight is today. Drastic changes are in order for this industry, as we seem to agree.

I cannot speak for "the left", or "they". I can speak for myself. From 2004-2007 I sought affordable housing concessions from larger developments when such housing was in short supply. I asked SB700 to bear more of the project costs. It seems a mistake to equate our seeking better groundwater protection with any of these. We cannot buy back contamination any more than we can un-crash a plane.

Consistency? If you want that you could help me understand how drill-baby-drill is not calling for a faster draw down of a finite resource that future generations of Americans will consider a large factor in their own security.


Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

I just signed onto this coming press release from Clean Water Action, (quote):

Governor Hickenlooper was recently quoted in the press as saying, “There have been a few spills ,” but information obtained on March 8, 2012 from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission indicates that hundreds of spills and releases are reported to the State each year, with a statewide total of 3,966 since the year 2000.

“Governor Hickenlooper needs to stop misinforming the public about the amount of drilling and fracking fluids spilled and released on Colorado’s land and water,” said Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action. “There are not ‘a few spills;’ there are hundreds of spills and releases every year.”

Information obtained from the COGCC indicates that since the year 2000 a statewide total of 3,966 spills and releases have been reported by oil and gas operators to the COGCC, with an average of 330.5 per year over that 12-year period (see table below, and see this spreadsheet sent to Clean Water Action by COGCC on March 8, 2012). Additionally, the number of spills and releases has been increasing over time – in 2002 there was a 12-year low of 193; in 2010 and 2011, there were nearly 500 per year. Compared to the year 2000, spills/releases increased by 90.6% in the year 2011.

“The public needs to know the facts about the threat that drilling and fracking poses to our communities,” said Shane Davis of the Sierra Club. “Not only are chemicals spilled and released, the majority of that chemical pollution is never recovered or cleaned up.”

An earlier detailed analysis by the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action revealed that over 40% of spills/releases reported in Weld County between 2003 and 2012 contaminated groundwater, nearly 3% contaminated surface water, and a random sample of 6% of 1,000 reports suggested that up to 1.75 million gallons of spilled/released fluids was never “recovered.” Spilled/released fluids includes “oil,” “produced water,” and “other” as reported to the COGCC.


Michelle Hale 2 years, 5 months ago

I have been raised in and around NW Colorado all my life, and in saying that around oilfield. FRACKING is not the problem it never has been. Oil, Gas, and Coal HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE TAX BASE OF N.W. COLORADO AND A LARGE PIECE OF THE TAX BASE OF THIS STATE. I have lived around it, worked around it, and have kept up on information about it. Where water get contaminated is in poor well construction. Today finially there is an artical that reflects this in the Wall Street Journal today.

I am a Colorado native of many generations, I am a Democrat, and VERY pro Oil, Gas, and Coal.

Michelle Hale


mark hartless 2 years, 5 months ago

I ask again Lewi, and with all due respect: Would you / could you please offer some examples of areas outside energy production, where the left wants the causing entity to bear the cost? You know "feed 'em if you breed 'em", "if you can't do time don't do crime", "don't work, don't eat", those kind of things...????

I mean, its great to hold energy companies accountable. We could even make up some catchy slogans like: "Don't frack unless you give back", or "don't take the oils and leave us the spoils", or "don't drill it if you can't fill it". See? Those you are good with but the others not so much. That's the consistency thing bitting you in the rear again, I think.

I wonder, how do you square the completely contradictory positions in your mind, of wanting oil companies, and those who consume their products, to bear all costs associated with such endeavors while wanting would-be homebuyers to have their costs born by others? Your support of Affordable Housing is the exact opposite philosophy as your opposition to energy companies not bearing their real costs. Again, right in the rear it's biting you.

And when you think about it Lewi, again with all due respect, this is why, although I probably shouldn't, I am so comfortable referring to you as being from "the left". It's because the left is not, and has not ever been any good at consistency. You see? You fit right in!


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.