Chuck McConnell: Get the other side

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In this age of controversy and divisiveness, getting people to reach an agreement on an issue long enough to move a problem or issue positively forward seems impossible. In our community, the oil and gas exploration issue falls in this area. I believe information on all sides of any issue is essential to establish a basis for good decisions.

Feelings about oil and gas exploration run high on both sides here in Routt County, as has been demonstrated in testimonies at Board of County Commissioner and Planning Commission meetings over the past three years. A Steamboat Pilot opinion poll in August 2012 indicated that nearly 58 percent of residents support oil and gas exploration in Routt County, with 33 percent opposed. The feelings on both sides are polarized and intractable.

I have taken part in many of these meetings and listened to and spoken with those opposed to oil and gas exploration and production. Much of their information, especially on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” comes from the widely distributed documentary “Gasland.” It is easy to see how strong negative feelings could evolve from this video. The problem is that much of the information in “Gasland” has been proven to be wrong and misleading.

This past Wednesday, the documentary “Frack Nation” was shown at The Ranch at Steamboat, sponsored by Citizens Supporting Property Rights. This video was produced to inform people about the fracking process (which has been going on since 1947) and to debunk much of the misinformation provided in “Gasland.” Whether you accept the information presented in “Frack Nation” or not, I believe those opposed to oil and gas exploration owe it to themselves to be informed about both sides of the issue.

Energy, including coal and hydrocarbons, is critically important to our local economy. Colorado is in the midst of an oil and natural gas revolution right now that can, along with coal, help keep energy and electricity costs from exploding and can revitalize our economy. The energy industry provides high paying and long term employment which is essential to maintaining a robust economy in our state.

I urge our county leadership and appropriate staff, and anyone interested in the facts about oil and gas exploration, to watch “Frack Nation” to see this side of the issue.

Chuck McConnell

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Neil O'Keeffe 10 months, 2 weeks ago

SHILL, SHELL, TOMATOE, TOMATO lets call the whole thing off!

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Stuart Orzach 10 months, 2 weeks ago

It behooves those who desire to dig deeper into the drilling dilemma than this duo of dueling documentaries allows, to read "Under The Surface: Fracking, Fortunes and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale", by Tom Wilber. Mr. Wilber is a journalist who covered oil and gas matters in Western New York State and Northern Pennsylvania for 10 years for Gannett Newspapers. He then took 3 years to research the book. It is investigative journalism and does not advocate a position on any issue. The book was published in 2012 and is available at our local library. It is the first, and, to my knowledge, only book length treatment of this subject to date. I read it, and I found it to be objective. I spoke with a citizen in Michigan who is familiar with Mr. Wilber's work. She said that, if anything, he is perceived to be pro-industry. Michigan citizens are in the process of collecting signatures to bring an anti-fracking initiative to the Statewide ballot in 2014. I am opposed to allowing an industry with a terrible environmental track record to self monitor. I am also opposed to relying on a State agency to protect us when that agency has 17 inspectors for over 50,000 wells. The COGCC's personnel have a revolving door with the industry and there is little concern for the unethical conflict of interest that results. I am also concerned that the COGCC is hesitant to levy any significant fines because that would discourage firms from reporting problems. This is according to it's former director who came to Routt County and addressed the Commissioners for several hours. I am not against oil and gas production per se. I am opposed to unsafe practices and lack of accountability or responsibility on the part of operators. Oil and gas exploration and production using hydraulic fracturing is not critical to our local economy, will not prevent energy costs from exploding, if they explode at all, will not revitalize our State economy, and does not provide good paying long term jobs for our residents. Our public officials already know this. References to 1947 bear no relevance in today's world, nor does a newspaper poll. This is about facts, not feelings. I have watched both documentaries. "Gasland" is by no means the main source of information for people who have concerns about oil and gas exploration. By stating that it is, and then attacking it, the author merely sets up a straw man only to knock it down. By all means, watch "Frack Nation". I, for one, found it to be a transparent piece of factually inaccurate propaganda.

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Chris Hadlock 10 months, 2 weeks ago

"I am not against oil and gas production per se. I am opposed to unsafe practices and lack of accountability or responsibility on the part of operators."

Well said Stuart.

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mark hartless 10 months, 2 weeks ago

"I am not against government and regulation per se. I am opposed to unconstitutional practices and the lack of accountability or responsibility on the part of the regulators."

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