People attend an oil and gas forum hosted by the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley on Wednesday night at Steamboat Springs High School.

Photo by Matt Stensland

People attend an oil and gas forum hosted by the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley on Wednesday night at Steamboat Springs High School.

Facts, analysis goals of oil and gas forum in Steamboat

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— The ongoing effort to educate residents about potential impacts from oil and gas exploration continued Wednesday night in Steamboat Springs.

The forum occurred the same day the Routt County Board of Commissioners voted, 2-1, early Wednesday to grant a permit for Quicksilver Resources to drill a new well on Wolf Mountain.

“Having these things is good,” said Steve Williams, a local retired petroleum geologist who was one of about 100 people who attended the oil and gas forum hosted by the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley at Steamboat Springs High School. “It needs the dialogue. I think everyone has learned a lot in the past six months.”

The speakers included Judy Jordan, the former oil and gas liaison for Garfield County, and Barbara Green, a Colorado attorney who specializes in working with governments that are navigating their ways through oil and gas issues. Jim Kerr, a North Routt County resident with 34 years of experience in the business, also provided an overview of drilling practices such as fracking.

“We wanted to avoid emotion and deliver an analytical, factually based presentation,” said Steve Aigner, a board member of the Community Alliance, a group that aims to preserve community character and the natural environment.

Jordan gave an overview of the social and economic impacts from the oil and gas boom in Garfield County.

At the peak in 2008, Jordan said 3,000 wells were being drilled in the county. She said the oil and gas industry took a toll on county roads, raised income levels, increased the cost of housing and shifted career choices. Jordan said this shift left a lot of empty patrol cars at the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, where potential deputies were taking the higher paying jobs in energy exploration.

“It’s really hard to run a society when you can’t fill these kinds of jobs,” Jordan said.

Oil and gas also brought a lot of money to the county, which was the result of property taxes collected on infrastructure that the energy companies built. About half of the county’s revenues — about $50 million a year — came from oil and gas.

“We’re still sitting on about a $120 million surplus right now,” Jordan said.

Green, a former Steamboat Springs assistant city manager from the early 1980s, is a partner in the Front Range law firm of Sullivan Green Seavy and is a member of the governor’s task force on oil and gas development. She addressed the controls that local governments can place on oil and gas exploration.

“The authority is the authority you have over any other industry,” she said.

Green said the law states that local governments can regulate impacts up to the point where they would “materially impede or destroy a state’s interest.” The state’s interest, for example, could include the state’s desire to extract the oil and gas.

Kerr — the local geologist whose career has included engineering, petroleum geology and environmental geology — gave a simplified overview about how oil and gas wells are drilled and the techniques used in fracking.

“Hydraulic fracturing has not been proven to pollute ground water,” Kerr said several times.

The process that has been practiced for more than 60 years occurs well below the aquifers, he said, and cases of groundwater contamination are the result of the mishandling of fluids on the surface or the result of bad cement work or damaged casings that are used to line the well.

Kerr also told the crowd that hydraulic fracturing can cause earthquakes but that they are micro or minor and rate at a two or lower on the magnitude scale.

“They don’t cause damage,” he said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

maynard short 2 years, 5 months ago

I am sorry that I missed this event. It sounds like some of the presentations were worthwhile. I went to the earlier one in Hayden sponsored by the Ag Alliance. The speakers were awful. Unprepared, unprofessional and in some cases, downright wrong.
Someplace, somewhere, somehow, an accurate technical presentation should be put together for the people of Routt County so that the fear of fracking can be erased and that the techniques of oil drilling can be explained. This should cover both surface and subsurface and both short term and long term.

It is shameful that the wrong people, pretending intimate knowledge on the subject are being touted and paraded at every opportunity.

Maynard Short

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

Maynard, If my video turns out decently, I might be able to loan you a copy.

From my point of view, its a healthy debate and enough problems are documented to validate concerns and the debate. "Fracking" fluids are not documented as a contamination problem, but other pieces of the process and the equipment have caused air, and surface and groundwater contamination.

For a technical source, I suggest you visit the COGCC website. It will not display its http code for copying here, but you can view the last 1,000 incidents by going to:

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

In the upper left of that page select "DATABASE".

Click on "Inspection/Incident".

Select "Spill/Release".

Enter "1,000" records.

Click "Submit".

You will get a large sheet that can be copied/pasted into any spreadsheet program for sorting. Sorting the last columns of groundwater, surface water, spill area give you a better grasp of the impacts. There are about 560 spills in this list.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

I talked with COGCC staff about the data. In each of my calls the staff has been excellent :

The spill incident threshold to make this list is 5 barrels of fluid (x 42 gallons per barrel) or 210 gallons as an incident threshold. For some reason they do not track well casing failures. This runs against common sense, imo, given this is the main threat for aquifer contamination.

When they have a spill reported, they will dig or drill down until they establish the spill extent. If they hit groundwater before they reach the spill extent, it becomes a COGCC groundwater contaminated entry.

From my search, there have been 1,000 spill incident reports since March 2010 in Colorado, with 178 reaching groundwater.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

The only instance I've found of Colorado "aquifer contamination" as opposed to the above "groundwater contamination" reports is via a well casing failure in 2009. I would guess because a tastable aquifer contamination correlates with well casing failure and with leak volumes much larger than surface spill volumes.

Google: IN THE MATTER OF ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE COLORADO OIL AND GAS CONSERVATION COMMISSION BY EDDY OIL COMPANY, WELD COUNTY, COLORADO

The above filing includes the following:

  1. Based on the known scientific information, it is not possible to affix a date certain as to when Eddy Oil’s operations at the Well initially caused the contamination of the Laramie-Fox Hills Aquifer as detected in the Anderson WW on August 1, 2009. On October 1, 2009, due to the results of the bradenhead test at the Well, COGCC Staff concluded that a hole in the production casing provided a route for contamination of the Laramie-Fox Hills Aquifer by produced gas from the Codell Formation. On October 26, 2009, Eddy Oil contacted COGCC Staff and obtained verbal plugging orders for the Well. For the purpose of settling this matter under terms agreed to under this Administrative Order by Consent (“AOC”), the parties have agreed to use a period of 26 days of alleged violation (from October 1, 2009 through, and including, October 26, 2009).

  2. Based on the above facts, COGCC Staff contend that a hole in the production casing in the Well resulted in a significant waste of oil and gas resources and a significant adverse impact on public health, safety or welfare or the environment as it pertains to Rule 324A.a. COGCC Staff further contend that Eddy Oil’s failure to maintain a casing program to prevent the migration of produced gas from Codell Formation in the Well to the Laramie-Fox Hills Aquifer resulted in the degradation and contamination of ground water.

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maynard short 2 years, 5 months ago

Lewis, all your passionate responses are interesting, but what do they have to do with hydraulic fracking in a horizontal drill hole. If your intent is to scare the hell out of the public with your fear ranting, you are doing a fine job. Maynard

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

Maynard, I do not understand your complaint. You above suggested an accurate technical presentation is needed. Then, seeing my technical data straight from State records, you feel the information is "fear ranting" ?

My earlier comment acknowledged that fracking fluids themselves are not a contamination source. Still, fracking is the key to this boom. The director of CDPHE said that 90% of Colorado's new wells are fracked. Do you really think the innocence of the added chemistry removes any responsibility for the impacts that follow it?

Maynard, I do not consider my post a passionate response. It is as factual as anything you will read this year. Your response is to continue the industry complaint about misinformation.

Seriously?

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maynard short 2 years, 5 months ago

Steve, reread your posts. "fracking fluids are NOT documented as a contamination problem". "Other pieces of the process, etc. may or may not be associated with a well that is being hydraulically fracked in a horizontal drill hole. The main concern and fear in this county is the new technology of hydraulic fracking in a horizontal drill hole.
The rest, surface leakage etc. are naught but industrial spills and most likely have absolutely nothing to do with the new technology of hydraulic fracking in a horizontal drill hole. You incite unrest and fear in the public mind that has very little knowledge as to what is actually happening. 560 spills -- 1000 spill incidents -- 178 groundwater contaminations. I am not saying these aren't problems, but they are problems of the oil and gas industry in general. They do not automatically mean, as you imply that they are due to hydraulic fracking in a horizontal drill hole. The only case you cite is the Eddy Oil well, which was shut down. It appears that they had a casing blowout. It does not state that this was in a hydraulic fracked horizontal drill hole. Why not use your apparent knowledge of the O&G industry, to help educate the public, rather than scaring them. I do hope your anticipated video isn't another "Gasland" farce.

Maynard

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

Maynard, The video I offered to you was of the forum.

I have never referenced Gasland, nor do I imply fracking is the only problem. Fracking creates several byproducts and those byproducts are indicted problems in Colorado. No?

We seem to agree the gas industry in general has problems. I believe many residents and jurisdictions in Colorado are completely justified in their regulatory attempts to protect themselves. This industry and it's politicians reject this insisting on the same defense as you, to do nothing about it. You carefully repeat the innocent condition "hydraulically fracked in a horizontal drill hole" so you can say the real problem is misinformation. Maynard, the real problem is this is a dirty industry, and it needs to clean up its act in very significant ways.

If I were who you suggest, certainly I would have posted the story out of Grover Colorado that I read a while back. You misread me to suit your own politics. If the above facts cause fear, Maynard, it is a completely rational fear and something should be done about it. Your words dismissing the public's concerns on your narrow rhetoric are more damaging than anything I write.

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 5 months ago

De Ja Vu all over again. Steve this is a reinactment of SB700 tactics. Produce all the negatives to arouse the community. If these concerns were satisfied you would find more to take their place. Your goal, and that of your leadership, you are only a footsoldier here, is to stop fossil fuels which are really the only game that we have. You pretend to act only locally but the NIMBY effect is everywhere by plan.

My question to you, is what happens to us if you are successful in taking us cold turkey off fossils? Your leadership in Washington refuses to produce a budget in order to hide the obvious from the hopefully duped electorate. Your engineering background should allow you to decipher this plan and convince a redneck like me of the wisdom here.

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 5 months ago

Steve, We are basically insolvent and need to get our economy moving in order to stave off a calamity. Unfortunately fossil fuel is our lifeblood and without it I don't want to think of the consequences. We do not have the money to test Einsteins theory of repeating the same mistakes hoping for a better outcome. We cannot make it up on volume. Everyone wants alternatives but ideologues are no match for capitalism when finding an answer. The rewards are in the trillions for finding a solution to energy problems and our treasury is being milked to provide rewards to the cronies. Show me the wisdom here without using talking points. We are married to Fossil fuel for the forseeable future and now is not the time to change horses, unless untold havoc is considered collateral damage.

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mark hartless 2 years, 5 months ago

I doubt this makes any difference to the annointed.

It's a map that shows where the pollution particulates really come from, and it ain't us.

It also clearly shows a lot of the particulates originate from areas of the globe where nobody lives.

China is the worst area on earth, hands down.

Some members of the Church of the Holy Environment might want to consider evangelizing in China. Getting them to reduce their pollution by 5% would have far greater impact than cutting ours by half.

www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/health-sapping.html

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maynard short 2 years, 5 months ago

"When you remember, That we are all mad, The mysteries disappear And life stands explained"

               Mark Twain
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Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

Maynard, I enjoyed the Mark Twain. Philosophy is a worthy entry, and its often productive to step back and view the whole. Whatever the coming O&G experience, mine will not be much different than yours.

Fred, Your post is unclear. Today's "cronies" are obviously Big Oil. "Cold turkey" is your fiction that makes no sense on its face.

Wisdom would consider the larger picture - "solving" our energy problems cannot seriously be equated with taking a huge chunk of a finite fossil resource with no thought for tomorrow. Following generations of Americans will need these dwindling carbon barrels far more than we do today. Far, far more. Air travel without combustion?

Capitalism is beautiful. But beyond the counting of profit and loss, it is also deaf dumb and blind. Capitalism, with its self destructive fixation on the short-term, will happily ship the our most precious and finite resources abroad to a higher bidder, shortchanging the future security of Americans. And unfortunately, it will do so in the dirtiest manner allowed.

Consider that today's blogging is forever. Future online readers, our great-great grandchildren, will read about our generation's wisdom. We don't look anything like the greatest generation, at this point.

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mark hartless 2 years, 5 months ago

Profit and loss do not exist in a vacuum. To suggest they are merely the results of speculation is patently absurd. Furthermore, to suggest capitalism is deaf, dumb and blind is to admit a complete lack of understanding of it; for it is the exact opposite.

Unfortunately, this is not really suprising. How an incredibly complex economy operates without any central direction is baffling to many; especially statists. Mikhail Gorbachev once asked Margaret Thatcher: "How do you see to it that people get food?" The answer was that she didn't. Prices and profit did. Furthermore, the British were fed better than the Soviets even though Britian has not produced enough food to feed itself for over a century.

For eternal busybodies the capitalist system offers little excitement, little opportunity for manipulation, favoritism, and bureaucratic fiat. Nevertheless, the opprtunity to earn profit moves more food and medicine toward the hungry and dying much faster than all the bureaucrats could ever hope to.

Capitalisms fixation on the immediate situation is economic triage, and no more immoral than triage on the battlefield. No body goes out on a field after a battle and expects every wounded soldier to be cared for simultaneously or with the same urgency. The most pressing needs get met first.

To suggest that resources are somehow more precious than todays market price is also incorrect. The market is a forward-looking mechanism. If you think todays market price is inaccurate you should buy or short accordingly.

There are a limited number of dollars available today. There are certain needs which must be met today. If one hoards oil he must do so at the expense of foregoing food, clothing, or shelter. So too would people overseas. They only purchase the oil they must, after that their limited resources are re-directed to more pressing needs. This is a basic economic reality. To suggest that, apart from bureaucratic intervention, some foreign power will swoop down and buy all our oil at todays bargain prices leaving us with none for tomorrow indicates an almost complete detachmant from basic economic reality.

Moreover, if future supplies wain then alternatives become comparatively more economically feasible. I thought higher future energy prices were a reality?

Fresh water, for example, is not abundant in Saudi Arabia. But they are not going thirsty, they make fresh water from sea-water. They trade oil for dollars and dollars for electricity and electricity for fresh water conversion.This is their economic reality but one could hardly say they are robbing future generations. They are providing a basic necessity of life for those alive today.

Moral pronunciatons about capitalism no more qualifies as sound economics than a poetic discussion of the weather counts as meteorology.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

Mark, Please respond to something, anything, I actually said.

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mark hartless 2 years, 5 months ago

Steve, Please respond to something, anything, I actually said. I'll give you a little more to go on...

You are a statist who has no philosophical moorings apart from wanting government to control all situatons. If that means advocating more resoponsibility for oil drillers while advocating less responsibility for home buyers you see no conflict there whatsoever.

You hide behind what you think is some clever, intellectual argument of holding a so-called conversation captive to specific, isolated points so nobody notices that your overall philosophy meanders incongruently from wall to wall like a sailor on shore leave.

As others have correctly pointed out, you have been a cheerleader to some of this community's most regrettable, (and indefensible) decisions.

Here above, you indict capitalism but show no evidence whatsoever that you have ever understood it; and then, when you are challenged on that, your iltellictual elitism offers up only a veiled accusation that, basically, my contentions are beneath you.

I submit that my contentions are above you and that you don't understand capitalism, nor do you understand the majority of Americans who disagree with you on oil production, the keystone pipeline, etc.

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 5 months ago

Mark, Steve seems to subscribe to Steve Aigner's observation that we are totally ignorant.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

Mark, The problem is so many of your contentions are fiction and insult. Rephrasing my comments into something you can ridicule, paragraphs on my inferior character, lecturing my cluelessness on economics, making stuff up - imagine my attraction to such a conversation with Mark Hartless.

I have many flaws. Misunderstanding capitalism is not one of them. Partly explained by my degree in business.

My misunderstanding Americans on oil production might be one of them, but apparently it is not: “More than three times as many Americans say there should be more regulation of fracturing, known as fracking, than less…. The findings coincide with recent surveys in Ohio and New York where people who believe fracking will cause environmental damage outnumber those who say the process is safe.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-15/tighter-fracking-regulations-favored-by-65-of-u-s-in-poll.html

Why this consistent desire to establish that I am inferior and you are superior? I don't get it. You inflate a Fred Duckels comment as coming from "others"? It came from Fred. It seems you need to "win", and are a little desperate about it.

My intellectual elitism... Huh. Mark how long ago did I tell you about my epic losing streaks? 6 days ago? Now I'm an elitist poser. I'm making the incongruent remarks?

At this point I could address the 1/3 of your posting that was not made up or insulting. Continuing a conversation amidst a childish food fight? No thanks.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 5 months ago

Translation: The Truth Hurts.

I wear Steve's derision like a badge, Mark. You should too.

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mark hartless 2 years, 5 months ago

Steve, Barack Obama has a law degree from Harvard and has even taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. I suppose this means he does indeed understand the consititution. In that case I would have to conclude he has deliberately set about to destroy it out of malice, not ignorance.

I have to apologize to you. Your degree in business suggests you probably do posses at least a fundamental knowledge of capitalism. So I was wrong. You have my sincere apology. I should not have assumed you to be ignorant when other explainations for your disdain for capitalism are indeed plausible.

Again, please accept my apology. I will try to do better at staying on my medication.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 5 months ago

Mark, Thanks. As I said above, capitalism is beautiful. I've posted to Rob Douglas that the free market is hands down the most efficient organizing principle on the planet. It has limits, I expect you will agree, in some areas. Going forward, I will maintain that it presents serious problems. Disdain is a contempt for someone or something unworthy or inferior. That is not my position.

I only mention the business degree as the simplest defense. Even at a quality school known for its business degree, I left convinced the material could have been taught in half the time. Its just not rocket science. Business law and economics were the exception, and very worthwhile.

I'm no saint. I gave an apology to Cari Hermacinski early in 2008 for an ad I ran during her CC campaign. I don't expect this blog to resemble a gathering of neighbors. But that is how I approach it now.

I had a nice conversation with Britta Horn last night. I've been across the table from Chris Diamond and Brent Pearson in city code negotiations. I'll see them all at similar occasions in the future. It simply doesn't work, overtly or in my thinking, for me to question their character. Disagreeing with Diamond's policy is fine. Disagreeing with his character is a mistake that will foul my weighing of his policies. Chris is a great guy, btw. I also consider my inevitable encounters with Britta, Chris and Brent on our sidewalks and single tracks. Those encounters can be highlights or bummers. Its a choice we each made earlier.

So much first person writing is poor style. But better to write about myself, than to write about you. That's just how I see it now. Time to get back to work, I hope we create a good conversation going forward.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Fred, Steve Aigner introduced the 2009 ballot petition that ultimately defeated SB700. Days later, Steve paid a huge price through negative and personal treatment by the Pilot. The Pilot later strongly supported the annexation in many editorials.

More than any other citizen, Steve prevented that huge mistake. What you fail to acknowledge Fred, is he did it by asking the people to decide. His petition came only after our City Council chose NOT to let the people decide, and voted against putting SB700 on the ballot.

Which of those two paths best served this community? Your criticism Fred, has been proven false in the most fundamental way possible.

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Rob Douglas 2 years, 4 months ago

EPA Backpedals on Fracking Contamination

"The Environmental Protection Agency has dropped its claim that an energy company contaminated drinking water in Texas, the third time in recent months that the agency has backtracked on high-profile local allegations linking natural-gas drilling and water pollution."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303404704577313741463447670.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Fracking Our Way to a Toxic Planet

"When corporations roll back environmental protections to exploit our natural resources, they're also exploiting us."

"The formula for making Canada and the US the "Saudi Arabia" of the twenty-first century is grim but relatively simple: environmental protections will have to be eviscerated."

http://motherjones.com/environment/2012/04/fracking-environmental-regulations-toxic-planet

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 4 months ago

Steve, The SB700 that you continue to refer as a victory shows what a no growth agenda can do to blind folks. First let's go back to your glory days of affordable housing hoopla. That whole fiasco inploded when the market corrected leaving your visionary friends in damage control mode, with you posing as "Bagdad Bob" for the cause.

Now back to SB700. This group came at the invitation of our leaders to meet future needs. They bent over backwards and promised more than they could probably deliver to assure approval. Once the market changed your micromanaging friends used hindsight to save the community from these rascals. If they had received approval the economy would have rendered the same result, but the stipulations would remain with the property. In the future we will not likely realize the cooperation that your friends destroyed on this parcel. For your info I am not big on growth but I would not treat you or these capitalist pigs with such disrespect.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Fred, Are you kidding? Disrespect is the foundation of every Duckels post. Read your own history:

http://www.steamboattoday.com/users/fredduckels/comments/

"Bagdad Bob" was Saddam Hussein's propaganda minister. I could throw some filth back at you, but fail to see the value in this posting behavior. You look so desperate with such writing. Why join you?

No growth? You alone seem stuck on the term and its conspiracy. Majority decisions by your community or your city councils are somehow a corrupt conspiracy too. Glory days of affordable housing? Again a Steamboat majority approved that path, both in polls and on councils.

The crash made many fiascos. Many previous efforts are still in trouble and some caused real harm. You use a very narrow view in your finger pointing to claim a wrong. Look around Fred. Easily the biggest harm and waste would have to be the River Walk project. That was the eviction and removal of 40 mobile homes to create the now vacant lot downtown and downstream from the Rabbit Ears Motel.

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

Steve, What a majority has to do with something being right is beyond me. Isn't a lynch mob a majority? You keep justifying certain things by standing behind "majority" while opposing other things that the "majority" clearly wants?

I truly don't know the details but wasn't River Walk a private sale to a private buyer?

"Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? Matthew 20:15

Do you know what the seller of river walk did with that money? Perhaps he donated a large portion of it to the poor; perhaps to science? Perhaps the proceeds from that sale will fund the research that cures cancer? What business is it of any third party's?
Again, I admit I don't know the details but...

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Mark, But you probably agree "majority" support is the simplest rebuttal to Fred's belief that "my friends" and a "no-growth agenda" are controlling anything. In your comparison with a lynch mob, you should consider the vast difference between a choice studied for years and one made by a mob. One is valid. One is not.

There are other tests and constraints on poor majority decisions. A far, far bigger worry is $$ in elections and D.C., in my view.

Its a false choice you propose for me, again, on consistency. Who could endorse every majority? Since majority is not always right, of course I will oppose it in plenty of cases. You too. Where it agrees with me, why ignore the reinforcement of my position? You've quoted majority support for your own arguments, so apparently it does make sense to you.

As I said, the crash created many fiascos. Its Fred, not me, who has interest in seeing local villains in the fiascos. RiverWalk is again the simplest rebuttal to Fred's complaints. BTW, I voted "yes" to RiverWalk as a planning commissioner, so I'm hardly able to point to further villains. And there are none. But yes, it is our business to look at impacts, regardless if privately or publicly done. Iron Horse Inn deserves scrutiny. RiverWalk also offers useful history.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

We digress from my point of interest. This thread was about oil and gas?

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

We agree on the broader point, I think. "Majority" is a well used rebuttal. However, a majority is often used as a substitute for knowledge. Pardon the title but for example: www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/80786... This is a great example of a majority which DOES NOT know the issues.

I would submit that the mojority of SB700 voters (both pro and con) DID NOT have a sufficient command of the details of the issue to cast an informed vote. Not to mention that whether it passes of failed they had no business voting on it in the first place. They were essentially voting for that issue (or aginst) "because it was black".

"Majority" is also incorrectly assumed to be a knowledgeable "watchdog", even on issues where the community has no business; ie private transactions. The ridiculous assumption by the steamboat community that it somehow had any business giving input on the Walgreens is an example. This is why there should be concise and clearly defined zoning laws with very little input from planners, etc. Otherwise every attempt a developer makes gets politicized and the pavlovian response, especially from a community as programmed as steamboat, is to jump in to the discussion as if they're entitled to have a say. There was a time when, if you wanted to control a peice of real estate, you bought it. Now you just whip up a "majority" and the power brokers do what they must to stay in power. I have been across the table from more than a few planning commissions in my time.

It sounds ironic that you would have voted "yes" for a project that was, in your own words, "[ a fiasco that caused] the biggest harm and waste". Did you vote for it anyway because you genuinely believed in the developer's and seller's rights to do what they wish with their own property?

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

How the Planning process affected Riverwalk is a lesson on how Planning's rules and the property owner's expectation of the planning process causes detrimental changes outside of Planning's control.

In order to limit Planning's options when reviewing a proposed project, the hardball game played by developers is to not allow Planning come up with alternatives retaining some aspects of the previous use. So Riverwalk evicts the mobile home tenants to turn the property into a vacant lot so Planning has the choice of either accepting the proposed Riverwalk development or the vacant lot. Same reasons why Thunderhead Lodge and the base area was demolished.

So if Planning could have been trusted to process the application as if the lot was vacant then the developer would not have had the substantial incentive to make the lot vacant instead of continuing the old use until ready to start construction. So it is because of how Planning deals with issues that caused the mobile homes to be evicted from Riverwalk.

This is relevant to oil and gas because it is all too easy for regulations to have unintended consequences. Fracking with benzene instead of water might have more environmental risks, but it might become the preferred method in Routt County since it requires fewer truck trips. And so on.

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

There is no doubt the butane/ benzene was a result o f the county trying to show Quicksilver who was the boss.

If what you say about Riverwalk is true then theserious defect in the planning department is basically that it presumes to control too much detail of peoples property.

If I understand you correctly you are saying planning might want something stupid like leaving some of the mobile homes beside the new development or something similar so, rather than allow that to be an option the developer/ seller just wipes the lot clean.

The solution, in my opinion, is to simply proclaim what uses are allowed on property and back off. Let the owners do whatever is on the list of approved uses under the zoning designation attached to that land. Where it gets tricky, and borders on corrupt, is that notihng is zoned as it should be. Tracts of land that would clearly meet the common-sense description of "commercial" might still be zoned residential or even ag. This forces all land sales into the planning process and it is by design. The shakedown for goodies is an integral part of the process nowadays. Probably not going to change much in this environment. When 10,000 locals from miles away feel like they have a right to dictate the use of someones property you can bet planning, cut from the same cloth certainly thinks they do as well. That's why my rental property is safely in another state where you actually own what you own.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

Mark, A simpler solution would be if applicant could check a box saying consider proposal as if lot were vacant. And so prohibit Planning from considering the current use when evaluating the proposed use.

The mobile homes on the Riverwalk parcel were nothing great or special so the Riverwalk development would certainly have been better for downtown business. It just would have been better if they could have stayed there until ready to start construction instead of being removed so the developer was more confident of getting Riverwalk through Planning.

Another joke of the planning process is that Planning has limited resources and so can only subject a few projects to the complete review at a time. So a city like Denver routinely reviews and approves projects that would be a big deal in SB. And so, to me, explains why Oak Creek is making it a 10 week process to close my laundromat to the public. Planning in Oak Creek has little enough else to do so they can make closing a laundromat to the public into something that needs extensive review.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

RiverWalk phase 1, was a vote to create a vacant lot.

Via a new and specific ordinance, written just for evicting mobile homes. It came from the earlier, messy eviction of mobile homes to create that small parking lot N.E. of the post office downtown. For phase 1 RiverWalk, planning commission had that eviction question alone to consider with no other consideration. We knew, quite precisely, we were creating a vacant lot.

So a yes vote made strictly according to the owner's property rights. That doesn't change that it also had a harmful downside, 40 evictions (well before the crash). The fact that it will remain a vacant lot for a decade makes no one a villain, but it does make what we did tremendous waste.

"Fiasco" was Fred's label. Whatever. The point being that many plans and pro formas turned sour after the crash. Fred's speaking of the crash as a "market correction", as if he or anyone expected what happened, is patently disingenuous. Ignoring that economic reversal to criticize prior plans and is a self serving exercise in his ideology if he can't also acknowledge the adjacent examples of capitalist pro formas gone equally wrong.

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 4 months ago

Steve, In your case the end seems to justify the means. You use representative government when the outcome is in line with your thinking, but you will do an about face in a heartbeat when you think a referendum will overturn a result that you disdain. Where do you stand here or do you have a stance?

Riverwalk and the other large projects that were to be built at the same time were foolhardy in my mind. Time has been on my side, however this was private money and they had their shot. I am not obligated to contribute to this misfortune. One project might make sense to test the market, but many bring into question if they had two IQ"s to rub together.

AH had it's misjudgers and you were probably in front of the line, I constantly railed against this folly, speculating with borrowed money at the top of the market was insane, and I am waiting for my bill on the Iron Horse and West SB fiascos.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Fred. It is our city charter you have to blame. It gives the right of referendum to overturn some decisions, and to create others. We have similar rights as citizens of Routt County.

You disagree with the citizens' right of referendum?

You paint my voting as poor character. But you voted too. You will need to explain the difference.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Quicksilver's choice of butane/propane vs. water based fracking has nothing to do with the County. The County has zero say in how or if they frack. Number of trucks is also beyond County purview. Quicksilver has pushed back on plenty of items and this would be one they cared about, but its not even close to a concern for them.

Quicksilver will have its own reason for butane. Acquiring the water and disposal of its toxin volumes after use, would be a reason. Shell says it can recycle 95% of the butane used. Possibly more relevant, some folks are saying our branch of the Niobrara is not suited to water based fracking, because the H2O dissolves the deep local formations into goo. Whatever their choice, its not our doing.

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

My first question would be: I'm glad planning saw fit to approve the owners desire to vacate it but why was it something the owner had to ask them permission for? Why not ask the Forest Service, or Apple computer company or the local bakery for their permission? To my thinking they have the same right as planning to control private property... ZERO.

My family owns a mobile home park, and as far as I can imagine, rendering the lot vacant requires only a reasonable notice to all tennants, assuming I have no leases in place (contracts between 2 private parties) that contradict my plans.

My next comment would be: Fred has consolidated what I have been saying to Steve for some time now; that there is no consistency in his methodology. Use government when it provides your desired outcome; go around it when it does not. But I'm afraid it goes even deeper than that. To a degree many of us do that. What I am fussing at Steve for is not the "means" but the "ends". For instance: Wanting energy prices at the pump to reflect the whole costs of production on the "commons" meanwhile, the dust has not even settled from an activity (affordable housing) that sets out to protect, shield and prevent the whole costs of housing from showing up in the price of a house by putting those costs onto others.

Third, What Steve says about the butane might be factual. I can not claim any detailed knowledge. The reoprts sure led me to believe that the County was surprised that the butane came into play. From all accounts it seemed like the operation was cornered and all of a sudden Quicksilver began fracking when many were expecting them to show up at the county, hat-in-hand. Just doesn't seem "planned" to me, but maybe so.

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 4 months ago

Hi Steve,

For my part I will live with the decision of our elected representatives and not use sour grapes to go the referendum route. In the SB700 redo I would stand with a decision, right or wrong, as a deal is a deal and to renege is not in my DNA. It makes my skin crawl to see the classless way that we treated those folks. I would like to see the referendum gig abandoned, how else could anyone make a deal with the city when it has no authority. A deal of the SB700 magnitude will never happen again after this lynching.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Mark and Fred, Every piece of your complaint amounts to rejecting majority interest and majority rule. You seem unable to understand yours' is the marginal position -i.e. your continued insistance that my character is the problem when most of the people you know disagree with your position.

My above positions were also the majority position. My positions agree with standing law.

When you change the use of your property from mobile homes to something else, Steamboat code requires the change be approved. The law.

When you annex a property to the City of Steamboat Springs, the City Charter allows the right of citizens to reject that decision. The law, and a majority.

When Steamboat adopted affordable housing policies, it came after 3 unique city councils studied what they acknowledged was a problem. The whole intent of affordable housing discussion is shifting the costs away from, not onto, the buyer. Polling indicated strong community support for this concept. Majority and majority.

When you regulate pollution control by an industry, you do it via regulation. Tighter Fracking Regulations Favored by 65% of U.S. in Poll. A majority.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-15/tighter-fracking-regulations-favored-by-65-of-u-s-in-poll.html

Its fine and even courageous to publicly disagree with the majority. It is another matter when, given standing law and majority after majority place your positions at the fringe, you perceive the real issue to be my poor character.

Sour grapes and lack of class? When your position has value, you'll manage just fine without characterizing those who disagree with you.

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

Abraham Lincoln once asked an audience how many legs a dog has if you count the tail as a leg? When the audience said "five," Lincoln corrected them, saying that the answer was four. "The fact that you call a tail a leg does not make it a leg."

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 4 months ago

Steve,

You are the only member of the "vast" majority willing to stand up and be counted, consequently you are the face of this movement. My comments are nothing personal and I appreciate the chance to banter and give an alternative viewpoint.

Enough of the sugar, lets talk about affordable housing. Yes the majority decided, but this is akin to Lemmings marching into the sea. It was a rite of passage for anyone seeking office or wanting to be accepted to validate this feel good program. So far my warnings have withstood the test of time.

SB700 is similar and it is hurtful to see our community turn of folks that meant well. In the future we may have desired projects and find that no one will be willing to risk under this scenario.

Yes I hear your majority lecture but we have you and your friends gaming the system to convert minds. My observance shows that you are willing to feverishly campaign and play loose with the facts, as the end justifies the means.

My views make commom sense to me, and your explaining the ways of the world seem okay but remember that a million Lemmings can be wrong.

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

Steve, I have pondered what you said: "when your (mine and Fred's) position has value you will manage just fine without..."

I have to admit there might be some degree of truth to that.

I pondered, also, how that same logic might be applied to your bent for cleaner energy. It would go something like this: "When 'green' energy has value it will manage to compete just fine without subsidies from taxpayers..."

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Mark, The world, national and state markets are full of government subsidies and tariffs. Hard to point to an industry without them. Some do make sense to our economic strategy, some only make sense for shareholders. I expect I would disagree with D.C. on many of them.

Re: green energy. The U.S. put a $2.4 billion loan program in place for our solar industries. China responded with a $30 billion grant program for theirs.

Quicksilver will argue that Routt cannot make them operate by the stricter emission standards of the North Front Range. Their argument is that we have a carrying capacity for pollution that the Front Range does not. To me that is saying we should subsidize Quicksilver profits by accepting extra pollution of our air quality.

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

And China didn't have to borrow from China to put their grants in place. By being a debtor nation Americans give China the money to do such things while we can not afford to do them. Just another way the welfare/ warefare state is killing us, no?

So are we off water and on air pollution now? In that case take a look at this NASA photo showing where pollution really comes from... www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/he...

as you can see China is the neighborhood polluter here in Earth Estates, NOT the USA. This evidence coupled with the fact that they can afford it and we can not might explain why China should "go green" and we should not.

I'll wager that if NASA had photos of Earth Estates water quality, China would be the culprit there too, while America would likely have some of the cleanest water anywhere in the developed world.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

Mark, We are talking about well pad pollution, air and water. The air pollutants we speak of are invisible gases, you understand?

Do you agree with well pad pollution? Are these your arguments that well pad pollution is o.k. with you?

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

Steve, Well pad pollution is not OK with me. But that is not the question. Well pad pollution does not take place in a vacuum; if it happens at all it takes place in this REAL world where other concerns must be weighed SIMULTANEOUSLY.

As someone who claims to have a degree in economics you must know that there are no solutions, only choices and trade-offs. It is not a simple matter of chosing pollution or no pollution; not at all.

Franlky, this is one of the main gripes I have with the environmental crowd. They act as if pollution is all that matters. It is not all that matters. The inspectors you want on these oil rigs cost money. That's money which will not exist for schools, for roads and bridges, for reservoirs, for water treatment plants. What do you accomplish with inspectors on oil rigs if they come at the expense of the waste-water treatment plant not getting funded or the school not getting built? If you have clean air and water around the oil rig but sewage pouring into the river two miles away is that really such a victory?

Considering Americas air and water is cleaner than most of the developed world and getting cleaner every year how do you think pollution should rank on someones list who has no job? who's kids have no job? Where do you think it ranks among those who can't afford to fill up their cars gas tank, or buy groceries, or get their kids educated, or pay their property taxes?

Shall we keep throwing billions of dollars at the ever smaller tid-bits of pullution or shall we do something that actually helps people combat real, urgent and pressing needs? Comming from someone who claims to care about resources, I find that to be a horrible use of SCARCE (not plentiful and certainly not infinite) resources.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

http://www.denverpost.com/commented/c...

EPA says oil spills in Colorado's North Park hurting creek - 4/26/12

"Oil stains extend from Lone Pine Gas facilities for about 1.25 miles along shorelines of Spring Gulch Creek. Besides oil, Englewood-based Lone Pine — with state permission — has been releasing 200,000 to 400,000 gallons a day of treated drilling wastewater directly into creek waters, raising landowner concerns."

http://trib.com/news/state-and-region...

Wyoming well blowout rattles residents; company hopes to cap it today -4/26/12

"DOUGLAS — The cloud of natural gas looked like a dust storm, rolling in from the tall drilling rig northwest of her home near Douglas, Pat Miller thought."

"Chesapeake said the drilling mud from the well was “largely being contained” at the site, where the company was drilling into the Niobrara Shale formation, and the gas was dissipating into the air."

And the Earthworks report referenced in the Pilot editorial, Motion not the same as action,

http://www.earthworksaction.org/files...

"In 2010 and 2011, Noble Energy had more spills than any other operator (126 spills – 81 affected ground water, 6 sur- face water),5 yet in 2011 it received an Outstanding Operator Award for environmental protection from the COGCC.6 Congratulating the worst spill offender for its efforts at pre- venting pollution sends the message to both the public and other operators that spills don’t matter and there are no real consequences for breaking the rules."

Well pad pollution is the question. Your political philosophy, never expand government, has no answer for the question.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 4 months ago

How do we see the "real costs"?

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/04/26/471840/poll-75-of-americans-support-co2-regulation-60-support-revenue-neutral-carbon-tax/

63 percent of Americans support “signing an international treaty that requires the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by the year 2050“

By a margin of 3 to 1 — 61 percent to 20 percent — Americans say they would be more likely to vote for a political candidate who supports a “revenue neutral” tax shift, increasing taxes on fossil fuels, and reducing the federal income tax by an equal amount.

61 percent said they support holding the fossil fuel industry responsible for “hidden costs we pay for citizens who get sick from polluted air and water, military costs to maintain access to foreign oil, and the environmental costs of spills and accidents.”

By 3 to 1 — 58 percent to 17 percent — Americans say “protecting the environment … improves economic growth and provides new jobs” vs those who say it “reduces economic growth and costs jobs.”

Asked “When there is a conflict between environmental protection and economic growth, which do you think is more important?” an amazing 62 percent supported “protecting the environment, even if it reduces economic growth” vs. 38 percent who backed “Economic growth, even if it leads to environmental problems.”

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

Yes, a lot of folks share your opinion when it comes to economic growth vs environmental "protection", Steve.

But how hard is it for people to not care about economics when most of that 62% is recieving some amount of handout from the government, fully half pay zero income taxes, none of them will need health insurance starting next year, and people like you lobby to get them free housing in world-class ski towns and artificially high wages?

With a kickback scheme like that I would expect you should get much higher numbers. Narrow the "focus group" to those who contribute meaningfully to that economy and the numbers might show a bit more sensibility.

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