Category: Environment

What is the Mesa County Federal Mineral Lease District, and Why Should We Care About it?

A guest post by Janet Johnson

Mesa County’s Federal Mineral Lease District is a huge slush fund that’s supposed to go towards helping areas of the county negatively affected by the oil and gas industry. But instead, most of the money has been getting funneled to Colorado Mesa University and projects that benefit the oil and gas industry itself.

On February 6, Colorado House Representative Yeulin Willett introduced HB-1152 in the Colorado legislature, a bill titled “Federal Mineral Lease District (FMLD) Investment Authority.” The bill certainly does “open an important conversation,” as the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel suggested in its February 2, 2017 op-ed on the subject.

Willett’s bill seeks to give counties “investment authority,” which would allow them to withhold some of the money the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) gives to Federal Mineral Lease Districts and invest it in a permanent fund. This request for and composition of the bill originated with the Mesa County FMLD. The other counties in Colorado that have Federal Mineral Lease Districts are Garfield and Weld County.

G.J. Area Chamber of Commerce Continues to be Anti-Worker, Anti-Family and Anti-Local Government

Family Unfriendly Chamber – The G.J. Chamber’s ad in the Daily Sentinel 2/20/17 says the chamber opposes a bill to require large employers to offer parents limited unpaid time off to attend kids’ academic activities, like parent-teacher conferences, meetings about dropout prevention, truancy, etc.

 

In its ad in yesterday’s Daily Sentinel, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce announced it opposes HB-1001, “The Parental Involvement in K-12th Grade Education Act,” a family-friendly bill that requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer workers 18 hours of unpaid leave per school year to attend their kids’ academic events, like parent-teacher conferences, meetings related to dropout prevention, attendance, special education services, truancy, discipline issues and the like. HB-1001 allows for exemptions in case a business is having an emergency and needs all of its employees, or if an employee’s absence would leave a business unable to operate. The unpaid leave time could not exceed six hours in any one month, and employees would have to request the leave a minimum of a week before it is needed. The bill passed out of the House Education committee on February 6 on a 7-5 vote, and went to the full House, where is passed on the third reading with a 37-28 vote. Western slope House Representatives Dan Thurlow and Yeulin Willett both sided with the Chamber and voted against the measure, making these two legislators family-unfriendly as well. Every single House member who voted against this act was Republican. Every legislator voting for it was a Democrat.

It’s Time for Grand Junction to Invest in its Residents

“What about us?” A GJ grassroots citizens group called PLACE has been lobbying for a community recreation center since 2015

The Grand Junction City Council announced plans to put a measure on the April, 2017 ballot to increase city sales tax by a quarter of a cent to fund construction of a 5,000-seat event center by Two Rivers Convention Center. The tax would cost every G.J. household about an extra $30 per year.

The only problem is, City residents don’t want an event center. Residents have said over and over that they want a community recreation center where people can gather to meet, recreate, learn and have fun indoors and outdoors year ‘round. They want a place where kids can go to have fun and stay out of trouble.

Lack of Amenities

Grand Junction has long suffered with a lack of community places where kids, teens, seniors and families can congregate, have fun and learn.

Mesa County Commissioner John Justman’s Smug Attitude Toward Constituents

Mesa County Commissioner John Justman’s attitude toward his “subjects,” as demonstrated by Bugs Bunny

Check out this online exchange between Mesa County Commissioner John Justman and one of his constituents:

On December 14, a Mesa County resident posted a link to an online petition titled “Defend the Arctic Refuge from Oil Drilling” on Facebook along with the comment “Tillerman will drill this.”

The person was referring to Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon, who has made drilling for oil his life’s work.

Surprisingly, the first person to chime in in the comment section below the post was none other than Mesa County Commissioner John Justman, who wrote “Good Job Tillerman,” signaling his approval for drilling the Earth to death while repeating the misspelling of Tillerson’s name.

In response, the constituent wrote:

 

“John sometimes I think you say these things to be funny. The truth is this time it is NOT funny. You will be dead before your grandchildren will have to deal with a entire change in the environment you and I have taken for granted. Today the North Pole had a high of over the freezing level and the “heatwave” is suppose to continue. These fragile areas have iconic creatures you and I are familiar, but your grandchildren will watch the last of those animals perish. If you believe that is good, then I question your fitness to serve as a Commissioner. That position takes great analytical and practical thinking about today and the future.”

To this take-down, Justman thundered back:

Cattle Left to Fend for Themselves on Public Lands

Desperately thirsty cattle on BLM land clamber down into the Grand Valley Canal and break the ice on the few remaining puddles to get water.

Western cattle ranchers often rail against federal government control of public lands, but aren’t averse to taking taxpayer-funded handouts whenever they can get them. Indeed, even famously insurgent Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy took help from a taxpayer-funded public defender after being arrested on 16 charges of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States.

City Council to Consider Ban on Open Burning at Tonight’s Meeting

Open burning of fields along roads in Grand Junction's residential areas creates a visibility hazard for drivers, and health hazards for residents, pedestrians, bicyclists and more.

Open burning in Grand Junction’s residential areas creates respiratory problems for residents, pedestrians, bicyclists as well as visibility hazards for motorists.

Does the smoke from open burning make you choke?

The Grand Junction City Council will consider bringing the City a bit further into the 21st century this evening when they consider an ordinance to ban open burning at their regular meeting.
Below is a summary of what the ordinance will do, taken from page 85 of tonight’s agenda. There are plenty of exceptions to the burn ban, but at least is does make it illegal to burn household and yard waste. That’s better than the “no action” alternative City residents been suffering with.
Looking at what else is on tonight’s agenda, council probably won’t get to this item much before about 7:45 p.m., and probably won’t get to the part where they allow public comment on the ordinance until maybe 8:20 or 8:30 p.m. If you’ve suffered from clouds of stinky, suffocating smoke overtaking your neighborhood during the five months of the year when open burning is still allowed, you might want to weigh in in favor of this measure:

Long Ballot? Don’t Worry. Use AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide!

The entire November ballot is in today's Daily Sentinel, and it takes up 6 pages of fine print, like these two.

The entire November ballot is in today’s Daily Sentinel, and it takes up 6 pages of fine print, like these two.

Ballots were mailed today in Mesa County, and it’s a long one. The Daily Sentinel has published the entire November ballot in today’s paper, and it takes up six full pages of the paper, in fine print.

If you are worried about all the time it’s going to take to figure out how to vote on all this stuff, worry no more. We’ve done the research for you! We’ve looked into where the big money and corporate influence are coming from on all the issues, and how wealthy corporations are using ballot initiatives to try to trick you out of your rights, and weaken your influence and your ability to protect yourself and your families from their activities. We’ve looked at the ins and outs of all the issues, what’s fair and what’s not, and figured out how people can cast votes in their own interest.

Just go to AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide 2016 to see the recommended votes on the local, state and federal candidates and ballot issues. The rationale for the votes is toward the bottom of the post.

Happy voting, and remember, after this you can mute all those annoying election TV ads!

Why Western Slope Republicans are Useless Anachronisms

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) continues to promote drilling for methane gas -- the most potent greenhouse gas -- as an "incredibly clean fossil fuel" that "reduces emissions."

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) continues to promote drilling for methane gas — the most potent greenhouse gas — as an “incredibly clean fossil fuel” that “reduces emissions.”

Western slope Republicans constantly point to a “war on coal” or a “war” on drilling and fracking as the cause of massive job loss. They scapegoat western slope residents who are concerned about degradation of the environment and global climate change, while clinging to tired, predictable responses like boosting extractive energy industries that are technologically on the way out.

Republicans’ hand-wringing and finger-pointing reveals their narrow view of what is happening in our world.

Blaming Obama and environmentalists for job loss is like looking at the Grand Canyon through a toilet paper tube and saying you know everything about what’s there.

Hypocritical Establishment of the Day: Cafe Rio on Patterson Road

The sign in Cafe Rio's ladies' room tries to appeal to people's sense of environmental responsibility by suggesting we use the hand blow-dryer to help "save the world one paper towel at a time."

The sign in Cafe Rio’s ladies’ room. How about practicing what you preach, Cafe Rio?

At the Cafe Rio in Grand Junction, the women’s restroom has a sign urging patrons to try their new, super-duper hand blow-drier. The sign tries to appeal to people’s sense of environmental responsibility by saying, “Let’s save our world [by using] one less paper towel at a time.”

But at the same time, Cafe Rio serves every last bit of food in disposable containers. Not one bit of it is recycled. The restaurant generates a truly astounding amount of trash day in and day out, which is greatly disturbing. Given this, their restroom sign is hypocritical to an extreme.

Burn Haze Has TV Weather People Recommending Grand Valley Citizens Close Windows and Doors

A smoky, smelly haze fills the Grand Valley's air as open burning season gets underway

A smoky, smelly haze fills the Grand Valley’s air as open burning (open polluting) season starts

Thinking of moving to Grand Junction?

You might want to think again. It’s spring open burning season — something people moving here rarely hear anything about from the Chamber of Commerce relocation packets, or from their realtors. Thanks to the cultural throwback of open burning, an acrid pall hung across the Grand Valley today as open burning season began. The air smelled as bad as it looked, too, reeking of burnt wood and rubber, and driving people indoors to escape the respiratory effects of the smoke.

Mulder and Edwards Announce Candidacies for Mesa County Commissioner in Districts 1 and 3

Dave Edwards of Palisade (yellow shirt) and Mel Mulder of Fruita (plaid shirt) announce their candidacies for Mesa County Commissioner

Dave Edwards of Palisade (yellow shirt) and Mel Mulder of Fruita (plaid shirt) announce their candidacies for Mesa County Commissioner today at the Mesa County Workforce Center, to draw attention to the high unemployment rate and dire need for economic development in Mesa County

Two intelligent, hard-working and civic-minded citizens, Mel Mulder and Dave Edwards, today announced they are entering the 2016 race for County Commissioner to replace incumbents in District 1 and District 3, respectively. Mulder is challenging District 1 incumbent John Justman and Edwards intends to replace incumbent Rose Pugliese.

Grand Valley Residents Jump the Gun on Open Polluting Season 2016

A Grand Junction resident at

A Grand Junction resident at 720 26 Road openly burns a pile of yard debris on February 28, several days before the official start of Mesa County’s Spring Open Polluting season, which runs from March 1 to May 31.

Spring Open Polluting season is almost here in Mesa County, but many landowners who are eager to burn leaves and trash can’t wait. They’re jumping the gun and polluting their neighbors’ air earlier than the law allows.

Open Polluting Season in the county officially starts on March 1 and runs until the end of May. During this time, area residents can legally burn yard debris and force their neighbors inhale the smoke without concern for the health or welfare of anyone around them. The County also permits open polluting in September and October. During these months citizens are allowed to pour trash into the Grand Valley’s air and suffocate nearby residents with clouds of stinky smoke during the five most beautiful months of spring and fall, ironically at the same time outdoor temperatures become most conducive to enjoying outdoor activities.

Intelligent People Enter 2016 Race for Mesa County Commissioner!

Dave Edwards, Mayor Pro Tempore of Palisade, will enter the race for Mesa County Commissioner on Feb. 29, to replace Rose Pugliese

Dave Edwards, Mayor Pro Tempore of Palisade, will announce on Feb. 29 that he is entering the race for District 3 Mesa County Commissioner, to replace  incumbent Rose Pugliese

Mesa County voters will finally have intelligent candidates to choose from for Mesa County Commissioner!

Dave Edwards, Mayor Pro Tem of Palisade, Colorado will officially announce his entry into to the race for Mesa County Commissioner at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, February 29, 2016 at the Mesa County Workforce Center, 512 29 1/2 Road, Grand Junction. (See map to the Workforce Center at the bottom of this article.)

Edwards is challenging incumbent Rose Pugliese for the District 3 seat, which represents the east valley, between the Gunnison River and I-70, and includes Orchard Mesa eastward to the county line.

Ray Scott for GOVERNOR? Laugh or Cry, Your Choice

House Rep Ray Scott (R) voted on 2/3/15 to kill a bill to provide economic help to rural Colorado communities that get hit with devastating economic events that cause mass layoffs.

House Rep Ray Scott (R) voted on 2/3/15 to kill a bill to provide economic help to rural Colorado communities that get hit with devastating economic events that cause mass layoffs.

The Daily Sentinel reported on January 28, 2016 that our western slope State Senator Ray Scott is considering running for governor of Colorado in two years. He’s considering the governorship in lieu of running for a national office like senator, because, he says, he “feels he can do more if he stays within the state.”

Do more?

The notion is either side-splittingly funny or utterly tragic. Or maybe both.

The tragic part is that by mulling over his lofty ideas to the Sentinel, Scott is putting his narcissism on display for all to see. The funny part is that he’s been the worst legislator imaginable and has consistently acted to the detriment of most of his constituents, if you can call that funny. Maybe it’s the tragic part.

But tragicomedy is nothing new to the western slope Republican political crowd.

Whitewater-Area Residents, Ignored by Mesa County Commissioners, Still Suffer from Frackwater Odors, Illnesses

The Mesa County Comissioners (Cartoon: Douglas J. Monroe)

The Mesa County Commissioners (Original cartoon by Douglas J. Monroe)

On November 23, 2015, residents of Whitewater, Colorado submitted a letter to Mesa County Planning Department and the County Commissioners asking for permanent relief from the odors and health problems they have been suffering from Alanco Energy Services’ Deer Creek frackwater disposal facility.

Residents of the Kannah Creek, Bridgeport Road and the greater Whitewater areas have formed a community advocacy group called the Whitewater Community Alliance. They have complained to the County since 2013 of loss use of their property due to the noxious odors emanating from the Deer Creek facility.

Alanco Energy Services' Deer Creek Frackwater Disposal Facility near Whitewater, Colorado

Alanco Energy Services’ Deer Creek Frackwater Disposal Facility near Whitewater, Colorado

Residents report getting headaches, sore throats, nosebleeds, nausea, asthma attacks and malaise when the odors engulf their properties. The smell and accompanying illnesses are worst at times of high humidity, in the late evening and early morning hours. People who have visited the area surrounding Alanco’s waste pits describe an unbearably strong, metallic-excrement odor and complain of sore throats lasting hours to days after the visit.

Sentinel Highlights Mesa County’s Desperate Economy

Today's Sentinel talks about the desperate state of the local economy

Today’s Sentinel talks about the desperate state of the local economy

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel printed an article about the desperate state of Mesa County’s economy on the front page of its Business section today, written by business writer Greg Ruland.

Titled “Living wage tough to come by,” it describes how financially strained Mesa County families are compared to other families across the state. A study that showed that in Mesa County a family of four would need an annual income of $53,000-$65,000 to fund only the most basic needs of housing, food, health care, transportation, child care, taxes and an emergency fund. Ruland writes that the average wage in Mesa County “falls as much as $20,000 short of what single parents with three children must earn to cover the cost of a family’s basic needs.”

The cost of basic needs in Mesa County has increased over the last decade, but during that time wages in our area have stagnated, leaving Mesa County citizens worse off than ever.

A record number of people in Mesa County now use food stamps, and the number has climbed each year for the last eight years. About 18,500 Mesa County residents now receive government food assistance every month — more than double the number who got food assistance in 2008.

Ruland reports that a single mother working two full-time minimum wage jobs in Mesa County to try and support her family would still have an income low enough to qualify for food stamps.

That’s pretty bad, but not bad enough for the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce to come anywhere close to supporting an increased minimum wage.

Grand Junction Area Chamber: Let Them Eat Cake

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, secure in her $134k/yr job

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, secure in her $134k/yr job

You’d think the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce would be deeply concerned about this state of affairs, but even in the face of the desperate financial straits of thousands of families in Grand Junction, Diane Schwenke, President of the Grand Junction Chamber, scoffed at the notion that raising the minimum wage (currently $8.23/hour) would benefit local families. In the Sentinel article, she dismisses the notion as “contrary to capitalistic principles,” and suggests that instead government needs to find ways to further lower the cost of basic living necessities, like food and housing. Neither Ruland nor Schwenke mentioned that the federal government already subsidizes a long list of agricultural staples like wheat, corn, soybeans and cotton, and even has a dairy subsidy program that pays farmers whenever milk prices fall below a certain level. In addition to promoting further reliance on government for help, Schwenke, who as always sticks to the same failed ideas she’s backed for decades, added that the quickest way to raise low wages in our area would be to increase oil and gas extraction operations. She sticks to this message despite knowing that disastrous economic fluctuations occur constantly in the oil and gas industry, and that our area’s past of embracing extractive industries like uranium, oil shale, coal, fracking and hazardous waste disposal have wreaked economic, health and environmental havoc on our area’s residents for decades. So why does Ms. Schwenke rely on the same tired, old ideas that have long been proven a bane for our area’s desperate economy?

Weak, barely-legible and ineffective signage attempt to address homelessness and poverty in Grand Junction

Weak, barely-legible and ineffective signage attempt to address homelessness and poverty in Grand Junction

Perhaps it’s because Ms. Schwenke doesn’t need to be concerned with coming up with new ideas to boost Grand Junction’s failing economy. She’s been comfortably entrenched in her position at the Chamber since 1989, even though her activities have brought heavy criticism to the chamber’s untoward political dealings and lip-service programs over the course of her career. The Daily Sentinel reported Ms. Schwenke’s compensation package is $133,930 yearly — about 4.8 times the annual per capita income in Mesa County, and twice Mesa County’s average annual total household income. Ms. Schwenke is obviously free of any concerns about being fired. She doesn’t even seem to need to demonstrate the effectiveness or lack thereof of any economic-related programs at the chamber, either. She doesn’t have to worry about working two jobs or putting food on her own table, so she’s free to repeat tired platitudes about the oil and gas industry being the area’s salvation for as long as she likes. 

For its part, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership referred to this latest devastating report about Mesa County’s abysmal economic status as “a call to action” to recruit higher-paying industries to the area. It’s nice that they seem to care, but like the Chamber, GJEP hasn’t offered any few new ideas about how to do this, either.

Obvious Opportunities Completely Ignored

DenverEconomyIn the mean time, Mesa County families continue to scrape by using food stamps, homeless shelters, the Salvation Army, secondhand stores, food banks and charitable organizations that try to alleviate hunger, like KidsAid, while low-cost, practically-guaranteed effective, obvious new opportunities for economic expansion continue to be completely ignored.

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012, the new marijuana economy has generated tens of thousands of new high-paying jobs around the state, mostly in mountain towns and on the front range. But not here, because local leaders have banned marijuana-related activity in our area. New marijuana businesses employ tens of thousands of Coloradans as growers, security system installers, lab techs, scientists, agricultural and nursery experts, trimmers and tenders, compliance and quality inspectors, hydroponic equipment sales and experts, agricultural-related sales, accountants, lawyers, blown glass artists, industrial and retail construction companies to build greenhouses and retail stores and specialized distribution systems. While western slope warehouses sit empty, there isn’t enough commercial warehouse space to handle all the new business from the new marijuana economy on the front range. Denver property values are soaring, new houses, condos and shopping malls are being built, while property values in Mesa County are flat or diminishing. The front range’s growth from the new marijuana economy has been so spectacular, television networks are making TV documentaries out of it, drawing more people and investment into the state

But not in Mesa County.

Opportunities to Put Grand Junction on More Maps Passed up

Western slope elected officials also flushed a wonderful opportunity to add Grand Junction to national park maps several years ago after they ditched a massive effort that gained tremendous public, private and business consensus to change the Colorado National Monument into a national park. Keeping the park listed as a national monument keeps tourists driving around Grand Junction looking for a statue or plaque instead of the stunning 28,000 acre area of canyons and stone monoliths that the Monument really is. How many tourists simply stay on I-70 because they think the “monument” is just another statue somewhere? As a national park, the Colorado National Monument could be a much bigger natural tourist attraction. A change of name would be all it would take to give tourists a better idea of what the Colorado National Monument really is. Similarly, tourists don’t know what a “Mcinnis Canyon” is, or why it might be something special to see, because they don’t know what a “McInnis” is. But they would certainly get a much clearer idea of the spectacular scenery they’d encounter if they saw “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area” on the map instead of “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.” If only the more descriptive name referring to the area’s natural features could be restored to western slope maps as well, it could increase the number of people coming to Grand Junction to enjoy more of our outdoor amenities. Changing the names of these areas would only cost a few bucks, and could bring more notoriety and tourist dollars to the area. A cheap and easy fix if there ever was one.

Add a World Class Outdoor Recreational Amenity in Almost Nothing Flat

The maintenance road banks of the Grand Valley Canal System could be a world-class outdoor recreational amenity if a few gates were opened, a few gravel trailheads installed and a few signs put up

The maintenance road banks of the Grand Valley Canal System could be a world-class outdoor recreational amenity if a few gates were opened, a few gravel trailheads installed and a few signs put up

Opening up the Grand Valley’s stunning irrigation canal maintenance banks to non-motorized public recreation would create some of the most fantastically beautiful and accessible strolling, walking, running and mountain biking paths in the U.S. The irrigation canal system and its banks were built by the U.S. government Bureau of Reclamation in the early 1900s as a massive project to help bring settlers to the area by irrigating what would otherwise be arid desert land in the Grand Valley. The canal system criss-crosses the valley from north to south and east to west, and its maintenance banks are a ready-made system of dirt and gravel roadways paralleling some of the most scenic waterways in the western U.S. They run all the way from the spectacular fruit and wine byways in Palisade and East Orchard Mesa, to the beautiful paved riverfront path along the Colorado, from Palisade to the Loma boat put-in. Open a few gates, put in a few gravel parking areas and signage and bingo! The Grand Valley would have a star attraction that would get bicycles off the streets, provide motorless ways to criss-cross the valley, contribute to outdoor recreation and public health and boost tourism. It would also draw outdoor recreationalists who would come and stay in area hotels, dine at area restaurants and shop at local stores. There are already state laws in place protecting private landowners along the banks from liability. More of an effort needs to be made to create this fantastic amenity that lies literally at our feet.

There is SO much waiting to happen in Mesa County, and it has all been nixed for so long. It’s getting painful to see so many obvious ideas for turning Grand Junction into a destination city shunned, dismissed and ignored as impossible by our same old last-century “leaders.”

Until we overhaul and re-stock the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Grand Junction Economic Partnership, G.J. City Council and Mesa County Commission and other powerful boards and commissions with an entirely new slate of fresh,open-minded, creative and forward-looking thinkers who really have residents best interests at heart, our area will stay in the same economic death spiral we’ve been in for decades. But keep the same old people in the same positions of power with their same comfortable salaries and solid job security, and we won’t see any new ideas around here in our lifetimes. We’ll keep relying on things like uranium, oil and gas, fracking, creation of more hazardous waste dumps, coal mining and other doomed, last-century industries until Mesa County residents finally decide it’s time for that nonsense to end.

Nevertheless, we owe thanks to Greg Ruland for an excellent article about the continuing problem of Mesa County’s stagnant economy, if not for exploring more ideas about how to improve it.

  

Help Whitewater Residents End Their Hazardous Waste Hell

Whitewater residents' petition seeking help to get rid of the sickening stench of Alanco's frackwater pits.

Whitewater residents’ petition seeking help to get rid of the sickening stench of Alanco’s frackwater pits.

Whitewater residents are begging other Mesa County residents to help them, and boy, do they need our help.

Imagine you’ve bought some peaceful acreage in the outskirts of Mesa County. You finally realize your dream of owning your own land. You build a house, move in and start enjoying the beauty, quiet, views and proximity to wildlife that the area offers.

Then one day, a stench akin to metallic excrement wafts over your house. It’s doesn’t just stay for a minute. It’s not there for just an hour. It’s permanent. The stench is so strong it forces your family indoors on nice summer evenings. You have to close all your doors and windows in midsummer to try to escape it. Then your family starts getting sore throats and headaches. Your kids start having nosebleeds and vomiting. You contact local and state authorities for help, to no avail. Whatever you do — no matter how many letters you write, phone calls you make or public hearings you go to — nothing changes.

You’re stuck with it.

Welcome to the world of Whitewater residents living within smelling distance of Alanco Energy’s Deer Creek frackwater evaporation ponds.

In 2012, the County Commissioners approved construction of Alanco’s hazardous waste disposal facility in the Whitewater area. It now accepts contaminated water from fracked wells 24/7 for hundreds of miles around. The facility evaporates the contaminated water into the air to get rid of it, but it’s also Whitewater residents’ air. People who live downwind are forced to breathe everything Alanco’s evaporation pits are pumping into the air, and it’s making them sick.

No Help

Whitewater residents have been struggling to get a stop put to the harmful stench since 2013. They’ve begged Alanco Energy Services, their elected officials and health and environmental agencies from Denver to Grand Junction for help for years, all to no avail. No person and no agency has helped them. They’ve been helpless to fight the problem and continue to breathe the contaminated air around their homes and get sick.

Now they are warning other Mesa County residents that they could be next if the Commissioners keep approving this type of industrial hazardous waste development in Mesa County. They’re also asking their fellow Mesa County residents for help by signing petitions demanding commissioners either end their hell once and for all, or shut down Alanco’s hazardous stink pits.

The petition says:

Background: The Deer Creek Evaporative Waste Facility located at 5180 Highway 50 in Whitewater, began accepting “produced water” from oil and gas operations in August, 2012, despite objections from nearby residents. In September, 2013, residents living in the surrounding area began submitting complaints regarding offensive odors emanating from the facility. Complaints were addressed to the Mesa County Planning Committee, Health Department, County Commissioners, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Alanco Energy Services, owners and operators of the facility. Odors described as “metallic” and “sickening”have often forced residents to inhibit outdoor activities and retreat indoors and close windows. Residents have experienced adverse health conditions such as headaches, dizziness, bloody noses and vomiting, which they believe are associated with the odors. Repeated complaints over a two year period have resulted in only short-term solutions with continued promise of future remedies.

Action petitioned: We, the undersigned, believe area residents have the right to full and healthy enjoyment of their property and have endured Alanco’s incompetent practices for too long. We contend that Alanco, in acting irresponsibly, sets and unhealthy precedent for prospective industrial development in Mesa County and across the entire Western Slope. Viable alternatives for treating produced water exist. Therefore, we urge our elected representatives to require Alanco to utilize proven, safe and effective treatment methodologies, or revoke the company’s Permit

You and Your Family Could Be Next

The Deer Creek frackwater disposal site (Photo credit: Mel Safken, Whitewater)

The Deer Creek frackwater disposal site (Photo credit: Mel Safken, Whitewater)

The Deer Creek frackwater disposal facility and Whitewater residents’ plight is a lesson, and a red flag to all of us. All Mesa County residents (other than the commissioners themselves, of course) currently run the risk of having a hazardous waste facility approved close enough to your homes to impact your health, quality of life and property value. If the county commissioners green light more facilities like Alanco’s hazardous stink pits and then refuse to remedy the problems these facilities cause the way they’ve failed to do in Whitewater, the rest of us run the risk of the same kind of treatment. The way the current Mesa County Commissioners revere oil and gas development, it’s a likely scenario.

It’s time for all Mesa County residents to help our Whitewater neighbors regain their health, environment and property values, and help protect ourselves from getting overrun by dangerous industrial development. You can do it by signing and circulating the petition, and showing the commissioners we all care about this disastrous situation.

To download, print and sign Whitewater residents’ petition to the Mesa County Commissioners, click here.

 

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Mesa County Commissioners Work to Stomp Out Wilderness Areas

Local conservative Marjorie Haun, who promotes the use of firearms and writes in her blog, "ReaganGirl.com," that poverty is a lifestyle choice, white privilege is a myth and marijuana use "turns young men into biological young women."

Mesa County Republican activist Marjorie Haun echoed the sentiments of the county commissioners when she stated her belief that wilderness “is an absurd notion.” Haun also promotes the use of firearms and writes in her blog, “ReaganGirl.com,” that poverty is a lifestyle choice, white privilege is a myth and marijuana use “turns young men into biological young women.”

An article in today’s Daily Sentinel titled “Land of Bewilderment” says the Mesa County Commissioners voted unanimously to oppose a Congressional bill recognizing several new wilderness areas in Mesa County, including 75,000 acres in the Little Bookcliffs and the land surrounding Gateway’s stunning signature rock formation, The Palisade. Commissioner Rose Pugliese said more wilderness “is not in the best interest of Mesa County.”

Mesa County “Reagan Girl” GOP activist Marjorie Haun echoed Pugliese’s sentiment in the article, calling wilderness “an absurd notion.”