In his Dec. 5 DCI letter to the editor, Jans Lange asks the BLM to refrain from "rolling over to attempts to halt the February BLM lease sale of 15 parcels in Delta County's North Fork Valley." Mr. Lange further states that "we as Americans need to promote the safe and environmentally sound recovery of our nationally resources."
Those who are involved in the effort to remove the North Fork parcels from the February lease sale agree with Mr. Lange that promoting the environmentally safe extraction of mineral resources is a sound energy policy. However, leasing the nominated North Fork parcels under the current BLM Resource Management Plan is neither environmentally safe nor a sound energy policy.
Spills of fracking fluids and recovered drilling fluids occurred at 17 percent of all gas wells drilled in Colorado in 2010. That doesn't include the many spills that were not reported. These fluids are highly toxic and pose a health danger to humans and a risk to domestic and irrigation water sources. Of equal concern, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has determined that 6.2 percent of 2011 producing gas wells were leaking, and as of November 2012, 7.2 percent of new wells were already leaking. Is this level of risk acceptable to North Fork families, ranchers, wineries, and fruit and vegetable growers?
The gas industry has little data regarding how much methane gas leaks during the drilling process and from pipelines. Research by Cornell University scientists has determined that the impact is significant. Is this level of leakage of methane gas acceptable to those who live and work in the North Fork Valley? (Methane gas is more than 20 times as potent as mined coal regarding its impact on climate change.)
Many of us who oppose the inclusion of the North Fork parcels in the February lease sale are not opposed to the environmentally safe extraction of gas in the North Fork Valley. We simply believe that the BLM nomination of North Fork parcels is not environmentally safe nor is it part of a sound energy policy.
The BLM is basing the inclusion of the proposed leases on a 23-year-old Resource Management Plan that never considered the risks associated with fracking and fails to take into account significant changes in our economy, particularly with regard to our vibrant and growing wine, fruit and vegetable sector that relies on clean water and pristine air quality.
In mid-2013, the BLM will release its draft Resource Management Plan revision, a three volume document that does take into account the significant population and economic growth in the North Fork since 1989 and the impacts of gas drilling. Waiting until the revised plan is adopted is a sound energy policy that will more effectively protect the North Fork Valley and its thriving agricultural economy. Based on the evidence, Mr. Lange should support, not oppose, removing the North Fork parcels from the February lease sale.