The gas and oil industry wants to drill in different areas surrounding our towns of Hotchkiss, Paonia and Crawford. Barbara Sharrow, field manager for the BLM Uncompahgre Field office, announced early December that 30,000 acres have been nominated to be leased through a competitive auction to be held in August of this year.
The lease parcels, as shown on the maps published by the BLM-UFO, are located literally within yards from our municipal water supplies, irrigation ditches, the Paonia reservoir, schools, recreational areas, and ranches and farms producing some of Colorado's best produce, meats, fruits and other products being sold around the country.
Hundreds of local residents are now working hard trying to meet BLM's Jan. 9 unreasonable deadline (during holiday season) to submit comments and observations to alert this federal agency of the foreseeable perils, now proven, associated with gas and oil exploration. The Resource Management Plan (RMP) that informs the selection of these, and all other leasable parcels within the Uncompahgre BLM region, was published in 1989 and has not been renewed. The fact that many of these parcels are located on top or next to our critical water sources and in such proximity to our schools and homes is a clear reflection of the inadequacy of this RMP to address the potentially serious impacts to our health, our environment and our economy from oil and gas operations, particularly fracking, which at the time of the RMP publication was barely understood by the BLM or any other public agencies, including the EPA.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, which in simple terms means injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with toxic chemicals such as benzene, toluene and xylene into the ground to release natural gas, is being fought by communities around this country due to repeated contamination of air and water. Health effects associated with the chemicals being used by the gas and oil industry include neurological problems, birth defects and cancer.
The industry continues to deny any responsibility regarding air and water contamination, while at the same time they fight any attempts from the public demanding more transparency from oil and gas operations. Traceability, and not proprietary rights, come to mind to explain their refusal to full disclosure of fracking chemicals. If nobody knows what is in the water they pump into the ground, then nobody knows what to look for when water goes foul.
This is not, and should not be, a political issue, instead it is about the rights of communities like ours to live in a healthy and sustainable environment. The job creation and more tax revenue argument usually wielded by those in favor of the oil and gas industry tend to forget the negative economic impacts to other sectors of the local economy already in existence here, such as tourism, agriculture, real estate values and the ability to attract new investments in these and other areas. It is true that we all need and use gas and oil products to live more comfortable lives, but this does not mean having to live with gas and oil wells surrounding our towns, water supplies and schools, which would transform our lives and communities forever. In addition, until the industry admits to their negative impacts, implements safe practices, and deals with communities transparently, they will continue to face opposition. Write to BLM and our public officials requesting the withdrawal of these parcels and demand a moratorium on gas and oil exploration in our area until the BLM-UFO renews its RMP with full public participation.
Property owner in Paonia and Crawfordblog comments powered by Disqus