A show-down of epic proportions is taking shape. An unsuspecting public believing that government officials would look out for them is pitted against a dirty industry hiding behind legal loop-holes and propaganda. The public, slowly realizing they have been left to swing in the wind by the government they pay to protect them, is starting to mount a campaign against the assault. This clash has all the trappings of death match; either the industry dies, or we do.
In 2005 the executive branch of the Federal government and the Congress passed the Federal Energy Appropriations Bill. This bill specifically stripped out all safeguards for the benefit of the natural gas industry, specific to clean air and clean water provided by the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. (This push for drilling natural gas was spearheaded by then Vice President Cheney under the Bush administration and has expanded exponentially under the Obama administration). The natural gas industry was made immune to these laws (commonly referred to as the “Halliburton Loop-hole“), making them the only industry in existence that can dump toxic waste into fresh water without fines. The failure of our government to protect the people is monumental in this case.
On the Western Slope of Colorado a medical professional by the name of Dr. Theo Colborn has been researching the impacts of fracking on Colorado communities. She is the Founder and President of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange in Paonia, CO, and her full resume and credentials can be found by clicking this link. Dr. Colborn has found significant evidence regarding the health impacts to Colorado communities from fracking activities. The community that Dr. Colborn studied is the same community I wrote about in Part I of this series – Garfield County Colorado where I lived and worked.
What Dr. Colborn has found is nothing short of staggering – benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene are being released into our environment at rates that exceed all thresholds for safety. These chemicals are classified as hazardous waste, and can occupy the air, water, and soil. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, when ground water contaminated with these chemicals is brought into the home it is additionally converted to toxic air pollution, being breathed in by every member of the household. (How the chemicals get into ground water is covered in Part III of this series). Everything discovered through Dr. Colborn’s work, along with many other scientists looking into this issue, now applies to the Front Range and Colorado Springs because fracking has arrived in our communities. There are many, many additional health concerns and hazards related to fracking – too many to name here. For an eye-opening experience I encourage you to take the time and watch Dr. Colborn’s 45 minute video on the results of her research. Our air, water, and soil are in serious jeopardy, and our personal health is no longer secure.
The logical solution to protect our health and the health of our loved ones is to disallow fracking in our communities. Due to Colorado being a mineral state, meaning mineral rights are sold separately and most property owners don’t hold them, this is not likely. There is little to be done through conventional means of protest; writing a letter to your Senator will not help your case, appealing to El Paso County Health will have no impact, and putting up a “No Trespassing” sign to keep frackers off of your property is laughable. We have little recourse to keep frackers at bay – they are holding all the cards and they know it. Speaking of property, if our health is up for grabs surely our property is secure, right? Unfortunately, wrong again.
Property values are driven down when fracking comes to an area. It is reported that property values in La Plata County, here in Colorado, have dropped by nearly 22% from fracking activities. Duke University and the Resources for the Future group released a study showing impacts to property values from fracking. A great summary of the article can be found here, or the complete paper to order ($5) can be found here. In fact, property values are considered so jeopardized by fracking that Wells Fargo, City Bank, and Bank of America have all stopped offering mortgage loans on properties that have been fracked. And if that’s not enough, Nationwide Insurance will no longer offer home owners insurance to home owners whose property has been fracked, and other insurance companies are expected to follow suit. This is a huge issue for Colorado residents because we cannot legally tell the frackers they cannot drill. Natural gas companies can frack your property and leave you with devalued land, no ability to sell it with a mortgage, and difficulty obtaining home owners insurance. The companies have purchased the mineral rights for your property, in some cases over 100 years ago, and they own the right to frack. And you, the home owner, what is your right? You own the right to do nothing.
If fracking in your state and community has not made you angry yet we should check you for a pulse. The fracking situation in the United States, and specifically Colorado, is unchecked, unregulated, and unbelievable. The Colorado Springs city council has approved fracking for our community, including residential areas, areas near schools, and parks inside the city. No area is considered off-limits as the State of Colorado has declared that it is illegal to impede the drilling of natural gas in any way. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission have been accused of being the fox guarding the hen house, and the federal government has already demonstrated where their loyalties lie. The public has been abandoned by those entrusted to protect us in the name of national energy independence and strengthening the economy; these are false promises. We have also been told by the industry that natural gas drilling is safe; it is not. For proof that we are being lied to, knowingly, stay tuned for Part III of this series.
Interviews from a community in Arkansas impacted by fracking.
Feature Image – Copyright WV Frack
Do you have a story or observation to share about fracking? Leave a comment below – we as the community need to make our voices heard.