I have written previously to public officials in regards to my objections to the August BLM gas leases in the North Fork Valley and listed the parcels I felt particularly offensive. This time I wish to state my fears in regards to personal economic interests and to the economic interests of other valley residents.
I have grave concerns regarding the effect gas development will have on real estate values here in the North Fork Valley and on the personal wealth of myself and other valley residents. My personal real estate, and I assume that of others, has been devalued 25 percent due to the 2008 collapse of the real estate market caused by derivative trading on Wall Street by large banks. Now there is another challenge to those values from another group of corporations, the natural gas industry. I have in my mind the aerial view of the Garfield County landscape along the I-70 corridor in the vicinity of Rifle and of the Roan Plateau, both with their endless miles of crisscrossing dirt roads and forests of well heads and well pads. In my mind's eye, I superimpose that scene over the topography of the North Fork Valley and I see the industrial view changing the beauty of the landscape here. I know, too, the change is not going to help already depressed real estate.
Googling "fracking problems" or "fracking contamination," I have found numerous instances of fracking gone wrong. The EPA found 11 of 39 drinking wells in Pavilion, Wyo., contaminated by toxins used in natural gas production. In Wise County, Texas, drinking water has contained boron, strontium and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTB) in the vicinity of fracking activities. Leaking methane gas has contaminated wells and caused bubbling in the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. I was alerted to the potential dangers of fracking contamination when I read "in 2005 Congress exempted fracking from requirements of the Safe Water Drinking Act, a move health advocates labeled the 'Halliburton loophole.' " I read, too, gas industry comments as to the safety of the fracking process. Since I have much to lose, I cannot help smelling a rat, and I worry about the water quality of my Fire Mountain Canal shares and of my two domestic water taps in the midst of fracking activity and the loss of legislative protection.
In spite of industry assurances, some unforeseen event could occur that pollutes those sources. Should that happen, I suspect my already reduced investment here, my life savings, will be worth very little. There is no comfort knowing other residents share the same fate. So I ask myself, why must I put so much at risk and for what great cause? For whom?
Is it too much to ask the gas industry to back off from our water and our towns? Is it too much to ask politicians, the BLM or the Forest Service to choose from the millions of acres under their management or custodial care other sites that are not located near schools, do not abut domestic water supplies, do not ring irrigation reservoirs and do not put noxious fumes in the air near our cities and towns? Surely, room exists in the forest and on BLM lands where the gas industry can make its millions and billions without destroying the North Fork and the modest wealth of the people who have chosen to live here.
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