Tag: Energy

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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Energy Expo Protesters Shame Organizers over Fringe Speaker, Demand More Focus on Clean Energy

Crowd of protesters at Grand Junction's Energy Forum and Expo 2015

Crowd of protesters at Grand Junction’s Energy Forum and Expo 2015

A crowd of people rallied outside Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction today to protest Energy Expo speaker John L. Casey, who lectures on climate change but does not have any qualifying degrees or peer-reviewed publications on the subject. Casey is known for pandering to the belief popular among the tea party fringe that global warming is a massive scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. government and the United Nations. YouTube videos of Casey speaking before tea party groups in Florida show him to be a fear monger whose talks devolve into race-baiting and instilling fear in ILoveSciencehis audiences. He warns people to lay in a year’s supply of food to deal with food shortages he predicts will occur in a coming ice age, and tells them to be ready to defend their stored food supplies from urban minorities whom, he says, will try to beat them up and kill them to get it.

Colorado Mountain College on Energy Expo: “We are not hosts of the event”

CMCRachel Pokrandt, Dean of the Rifle Campus of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), says she didn’t know anything about the Energy Expo’s speaker program and the school is not a host of the event, despite being listed as a host on the event’s promotional materials.

“We never agreed to be a host” of the event, Pokrandt said. She says the event organizers “Really did represent us quite horribly.”

Pokrandt says CMC just has a small booth at the event, which they have rented annually for the past 10 years, to educate people about their solar, biofuels and other programs.

“We don’t want to be connected with that type of speaker,” Pokrandt said, referring to Energy Expo speaker John L. Casey, who speaks on the topic of climate science despite having no degrees in climatology and never having published any peer-reviewed research on the subject. His talks typically start out with charts, statistics and scientific claims, but by the end of his talks, he devolves into fearmongering and racist statements.

Videos posted online of Casey’s talks show him speaking before tea party groups. He says anthropogenic climate change is a scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. government and the United Nations. He says global warming is over, that sun entered a period of “hibernation” in 2007 and the earth is now entering a prolonged period of cooling that will lead to an increase in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Casey further says this cold phase will cause the world’s food supply to diminish and people will need to lay in a year’s supply of food and be ready to flee to the countryside and defend their food stores from urban minorities who, he says, will start beating and murdering people to get their food supplies — after government food stamp programs can no longer sustain them.

Pokrandt said that in the past, the Energy Expo and Forum has been “fairly level” in regard to balance in the types of speakers they’ve had, and between renewable and non-renewable types of energy, but that unfortunately due to the circumstances this year, CMC may have to withdraw its involvement from the event in the future.

 

Protest Planned at Energy Expo

W.Slope stupidty signGrand Junction residents concerned about integrity in science, environment and education are planning to protest at this year’s Energy Expo and Forum at 1:00 p.m. Friday on the south side of Two Rivers Convention Center, and are inviting others from around the west slope to join in.

The reason for the protest — the first ever at the Energy Expo — is this year’s speaker, John L. Casey, who claims anthropogenic global climate change is a scientific fraud and government conspiracy. Casey writes and speaks about climate change, yet has no degrees in climate science, nor has he ever published any peer-reviewed information on the subject. He appears almost exclusively before tea party groups.

Online videos of Casey’s prior talks reveal him to be a fear monger and a racist. He starts out with a dry talk using charts and statistics and says global climate change is a fraud perpetrated by the United Nations and the U.S. government. He then tells his audiences that the sun has gone into a “hibernation” phase and the earth is entering a cold era that will devastate crops and lead to food shortages. He then tells audiences they need to store away one year’s worth of food, and get ready to defend their food stores from starving, inner-city minority groups, who will rise up in mass and try to assault and kill people to steal their food.

The Energy Expo is a privately-owned event that is free and open to the public. The event owners are former Club 20 Executive Director Bonnie Peterson and former Mesa County Commissioner and oil and gas lobbyist Kathy Hall. Peterson was responsible for choosing Casey as a speaker this year. Neither event owner informed the event’s supposed “hosts” or sponsors, including Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University and the John McConnell Math and Science Center, about the choice of speakers until event materials had already gone into production. When “hosts” then complained about Mr. Casey being a speaker, they were told it was too late to change the lineup, because event materials had already been printed.

Two Rivers Convention Center, where the Expo and protest will be held, is owned by the City of Grand Junction.

The public is invited to join the protest at the Energy Expo and the organizers’ shocking choice of John L. Casey as a speaker.

Area Educational Institutions Blindsided by Choice of Expo Speaker

Bonnie Peterson is said to be the person responsible for inviting Casey to speak, without  informing hosts or sponsors of the Energy Expo.

Bonnie Peterson is said to be the person responsible for inviting Casey to speak, without informing hosts or sponsors of the Energy Expo.

Neither Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster nor Teresa Coons, Executive Director of the John McConnell Math and Science Center, were consulted or informed about the controversial speaker that members of small Expo subcommittee quietly selected to keynote this year’s Club 20 Energy Expo in Grand Junction.

John L. Casey, slated to give the keynote talk at this Friday’s Energy Expo, has alarmed citizens with his extreme fringe views.

In videos of his talks publicly available online, Casey tells audiences that man-made climate change is a scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. Government and the United Nations. He says global warming has ended, that in 2007 the sun entered a “hibernation” phase and now we have to prepare for a coming ice age that will devastate our food supply. In a November, 2014 video, Casey predicts dire food shortages worldwide. He urges people to lay in a full year’s supply of food to cope with it, telling people to ignore the expiration dates printed on food containers. He predicts that the diminished food supply will lead to massive social panic and tells his audiences that they need to get ready to defend their food stores from rioters, murderers and thieves. His mission is to “get the message out” about the purported coming devastation.

George Rossman, one of the three committee members responsible for inviting Casey to speak

George Rossman, one of the three committee members responsible for inviting Casey to speak

The Tea Party News Network bills Casey as a “climatologist,” and though he has made a name for himself speaking and writing about climate science, he has no degrees in climatology, nor has he ever published any peer-reviewed research on the topic. He is a favorite speaker of Florida tea party groups, and available videos invariably show him speaking before far-right conservative audiences and talk show hosts.

Foster and Coons are both quick say that their organizations have not contributed any money to the Energy Expo, but neither has stepped up to condemn the invitation of Casey.

Casey was selected to speak by a three person subset the committee that organized the Energy Expo. Members of this committee reportedly are Bonnie Peterson, former chair of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and now Executive Director of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, Kathy Hall, a former lobbyist for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and George Rossman (who is a woman), a professional event organizer. None of these committee members informed the Expo’s hosts or sponsors about their choices of speakers prior to finalizing the schedule.

There are only two possibilities these women could claim that led to selection of this embarassing speaker: 1) They were fully aware of Casey’s fringe views and lack of credentials, and invited him anyway, or 2) they didn’t properly vet Casey prior to hiring him to keynote the event.

Neither scenario is acceptable.

If the first scenario is true, then these three acting alone pulled the Energy Expo into the tea party political fringe zone without informing the hosts or sponsors whose organizations’ names appear on Expo promotional materials about their choices.

If the second scenario is true, they neglected a duty to vet Mr. Casey by checking out his previous talks, and should be held accountable for this mistake and the shame it has brought to the event.

The event’s biosketch of Casey, whichi says up front that he’s been called a scam artist and a fraud, would seem to indicate scenario #1 is the case, and that Peterson, Hall and Rossman knew exactly what they were doing, and what they were bringing to the Expo by inviting Casey.CaseyEnergyForum

Event hosts Colorado Mountain College, CMU and the Math and Science Center, may not have contributed any money to the event, but they have put their credibility as respected educational institutions on the line. By trusting the Expo organizers, they’ve shot themselves in the foot. In exchange for lending their names to the event, the organizers have dragged them into the mud by purposely choosing a wacky, fringe tea party speaker who trades on generating fear to make a name for himself.

 

 

 

G.J. Energy Expo Keynote Speaker is a Tea Party “Clown Act”

 

John L. Casey, who will be a featured speaker at this year's G.J. Energy Expo, gives a talk titled "Man Made Global Warming: The Biggest Scientific Fraud in History" to a tea party group in Florida

John L. Casey, a featured speaker at this year’s G.J. Energy Expo, gives a talk titled “Man Made Global Warming: The Biggest Scientific Fraud in History” to a tea party group in Florida

Club 20 is outing itself as a tea party group, and in so doing joins the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in shedding any pretense of being politically even-handed. Unfortunately, it looks like the same can now also be said for Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University and the other hosts and sponsors of the Club 20 Energy Expo and Forum.

Club 20’s annual Energy Expo and Forum is scheduled to be held at Grand Junction’s Two Rivers Convention Center February 27, and the keynote speaker at this year’s event is raising lots of eyebrows.

He is global warming conspiracy theorist John L. Casey.

The Energy Expo is dominated by extractive energy pursuits, like drilling and fracking, but that is nothing new. It is hosted by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce (already a well-established arm of the local tea party), Club 20, Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Mountain College and the John McConnell Math and Science Center.

Given the respect for education and level of intelligence the public expects of at least some of the above sponsors (CMC, CMU and the Math and Science Center), members of the public are left scratching their heads about how such a nutty keynote speaker got selected this year.

Silt Blogger Falls Seriously Ill, Finds Glenwood Hot Springs Pool Contaminated with Pseudomonas

Peggy Tibbetts, an author who blogs about life up-valley in Silt, Colorado

Writer Peggy Tibbetts blogs about life up-valley in Silt, Colorado

Last August, Peggy Tibbetts, a blogger in Silt, Colorado fell seriously ill with a bacterial infection after using the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. Tibbetts has been a member of the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool for 18 years and uses the pool 2-3 times per week. She had never had an adverse incident there, but noted recently that a close friend and her husband had also reported falling ill after using the pool.

After an extended period of illness, in October, Tibbetts was diagnosed with an infection of pseudomonas aeroginosa, a bacteria that thrives in wet places, including poorly maintained pools. Externally, it can cause a condition known as “hot tub rash,” The bacteria can survive the elevated temperatures of a hot tub or hot springs. Symptoms of internal infection include inflammation and sepsis. If pseudomonas auruginosa colonizes in major organs like the lungs, liver or kidneys, the resulting infection can be fatal.

On October 24, after receiving her diagnosis, Tibbetts contacted the Garfield County Health Department through their website, told them about her illness and the possible link to the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and asked them to investigate. On October 28, Tibbetts received an email from Garfield County environmental health specialist Morgan Hill, stating: “[W]e received your website inquiry and are following up on your concern related to pseudomonas at the Glenwood hot springs pool. We will contact you soon with more information.”

On November 4 and 5, the pool had an unannounced closure.

By November 12, the county did not contact Tibbetts, so she contacted them and asked for the lab results regarding bacteria in the hot springs pool. She soon received an email response from GarCo Environmental Health Manager Joshua Williams with the lab results from a hydrologic engineering firm called Zancanella & Associates, which showed the Glenwood Springs Hot Therapy Pool had indeed tested positive for pseudomonas aeruginosa on August 6, 2014, and August 13, 2014. Included with the email was a memorandum from Tom and Tony Zancanella to the county dated October 29, 2014, showing the county had been sitting on those rest results for two weeks, and hadn’t notified either Tibbetts or the public. Correspondence from Zancanella showed the pool hadn’t been tested for pseudomonas before that since 2011.

CO Senate District 7: Claudette Konola vs. Ray Scott, the Club 20 Debate in Full

Many Mesa County residents noticed the almost complete lack of local media coverage of the Club 20 debate between the candidates for Colorado’s State Senate District 7, Claudette Konola (D) and Ray Scott (R). The Daily Sentinel offered only one short quote from each candidate, and the local television stations ignored this important debate completely. In the interest of helping western Colorado citizens get adequately informed about the Senate District 7 candidates, we offer a two-part video (credit: Bill Hugenberg) and a transcript of the Senate District 7 candidates’ debate.

Clueless Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott Denies Climate Change

In this 2013 video, Colorado House Representative Ray Scott, a climate change denier who represents Colorado’s western slope, argues against increasing the amount of renewable energy required from rural electric co-ops to 20% within the next 6 years. The bill, SB 252, was ultimately signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Scott says “We have better things to do.” and “We’re going too darn far.” Incredibly, he further states,

“I have people in rural Colorado who say ‘You know, I don’t have a problem with renewable energy. I have solar panels on my house, that’s fine.’ But they’re having a hard time getting their mind around fields of solar panels in a field, or wind generation facilities out in the plains that they’ve never seen before. And if we’re really environmentally conscious, why would we want to look at those things? They don’t even make sense to me. I know I’ve driven through places in Utah and California and said, ‘Oh my gosh. All of this just to say we are changing something that we’re not even really sure we’re changing, based on studies that make no sense and the science is not necessarily true?’ “

According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the last century are very likely due to human activities. Most leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

Some of the current consequences of climate change, according to NASA and a majority of scientists, include loss of sea ice, longer and more severe heat waves, and accelerated sea level rise.

Midwife Sounds Alert Over Spike in Stillbirths in Heavily-Drilled Vernal, Utah

Drilling density in the Uintah Basin, where Vernal is located

Drilling density in the Uintah Basin, where Vernal is located

A midwife in Vernal, Utah, has raised a red flag about a spike in the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the small town in 2013. The statistic has emerged alongside explosive growth in drilling and fracking in the area. Energy companies have flocked to Vernal in the last few years to develop the massive oil and gas fields that underlie Uintah County.

The midwife, Donna Young,  who has worked in the Vernal area for 19 years, reported delivering the first stillborn baby she’s seen in all her years of practice in May, 2013. Doctors could not determine any reason for the baby’s death.

While visiting the local cemetery where the parents of that baby had buried their dead child, Young noticed other fresh graves of babies who were stillborn or died shortly after birth.

Young started researching local sources of data on stillbirths and neonatal deaths, like obituaries and mortuary records, and found a large spike in the number of infant deaths occurring in Vernal in recent years. She found 11 other incidents in 2013 where Vernal mothers had given birth to stillborn babies, or whose babies died within a few days of being born.

Vernal’s full-time population is only about 9,800.

The rate of neonatal deaths in Vernal has climbed from about equivalent to the national average in 2010, to six times the national average in 2013.

Along with the surge in oil and gas drilling in the Vernal area over the last few years, the winter time air in the Uintah basin, where Vernal sits, has become dense with industrial smog generated by drilling rigs, pipelines, wells and increased traffic.

“DrillingAhead.com” Gives Inside Look at Problems, Accidents and Worker Behavior in Oil and Gas Field

DrillingAhead.com is a worldwide networking website for employees of the oil and gas field. Rotating news stories on the the site’s front page have headlines like “Fingertip Amputation Hangs Over Chesapeak Energy,” “2 Dead, 9 Injured After Oilfield Explosion Near Orla, Texas,” and “Texas Newspaper Investigation Questions Oilfield Safety; Says 663 Killed in 6 Years.” The latter story discusses the U.S. federal government’s failure to enforce safety standards on drilling rigs.

DrillingAhead.com also lets oil and gas field workers upload videos of what they see  at their worksites. So far workers have uploaded almost 16,000 videos onto the site, with many showing accidents and workers screwing around. One video titled “Directional Drilling Nightmare” shows a drill bit gone awry and surfacing in a nearby field, spewing mud and fluid around the area. Others show workers sleeping on the job, and another shows a gas plant exploding in fire at an unnamed location in Colorado. Another truly incredible video shows drilling rig workers engaging in a pipe-licking contest (video at left), where two men actually try to outdo each other for the length of time they can hold their tongues against an active, circulating vertical section of pipe.

DrillingAhead.com also links to a fascinating Flickr site featuring still photos of “Oilfield Accidents.” Photos show frightened workers clinging desperately to the railing of a severely listing offshore rig, an offshore rig sinking into the water, a truck impaled by oilfield equipment, rigs that have collapsed or caught fire (or both), and rigs completely encased in ice.

DrillingAhead.com gives a detailed inside look at the actual operation of drilling rigs around the world as seen by the workers themselves, and in so doing does plenty to undermine confidence — if there ever was any — in how drilling operations are carried out worldwide.

In fact, DrillingAhead.com provides ample justification to worry mightily about the safety and integrity of oil and gas drilling operations everywhere.

 

Texas Family Wins $2.95 Million Verdict from Aruba Petroleum for Damaging their Health

Drilling rig outside the Ruggiero's kitchen window. The Ruggieros were neighbors of the Parrs, who won the lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, for damaging their health (Photo by Tim Ruggiero)

Drilling rig outside the Ruggiero’s kitchen window. The Ruggieros were neighbors of the Parrs, who won the lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, for damaging their health (Photo by Tim Ruggiero)

A Texas ranching family won a $2.95 million award in a civil lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, Inc., after a jury found that the company’s drilling and fracking operations near their home caused the entire family to become desperately ill.

It is believed to be the first jury award in the country resulting from a claim of health damages from drilling and fracking operations. Most landowners who bring such suits are pushed to settle and submit to gag orders so drilling companies can keep the terms of the settlements out of the public realm.

Robert and Lisa Parr lived on a ranch about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth, Texas, and had 20 active wells being drilled and fracked within two miles of their home.

In November, 2008, Lisa, a stay-at-home mom, started feeling nauseated and getting extreme headaches. At first she thought she was getting the flu, but the symptoms did not abate. She soon developed muscle spasms, a strange rash all over her body and open sores that would not heal. The sores and rashes got so severe that she went to the emergency room, where doctors packed her body in ice to give her some relief.

Lisa’s daughter, then about six years old, started getting severe nosebleeds in her sleep and would wake up soaked with blood.

Her husband, Robert, began experiencing memory loss. Their house pets died, and their livestock gave birth to deformed offspring.

Untangling Colorado’s Web of Anti-Fracking Ballot Initiatives

NoFrackingColorado voters who try to figure out all the proposed statewide ballot initiatives to regulate drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) are in for a real challenge. So far, fully eleven ballot initiatives have been proposed on the subject, with many of them extremely similar to each other.

It’s tempting to think the oil and gas industry filed some of them to confuse voters and try to pass a watered-down measure, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. So far all of the initiatives filed seem to have been brought by people who truly want more serious regulation of the energy industry, or who are trying to gain an advantage over Colorado’s legal and regulatory regimen, which favors corporate dominance over the desires of residents.

Here’s a rundown on what is known so far about Colorado’s slew of proposed anti-fracking ballot measures.

Over Half of Weld County’s Winter Air Pollution Comes from Drilling Rigs

Weld, County, Colorado

Weld, County, Colorado

A team of atmospheric scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado (CU) found that drilling operations for oil and natural gas in Weld County, Colorado was the “dominant wintertime source” of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air pollution emissions in that area. VOCs contribute to the formation of ozone, a constituent of photochemical smog. The researchers tested the air at a site 2.5 miles east of downtown Erie, Colorado.

In 2011, at the time of the study, Weld County had over 15,000 active gas wells. Two years later, it had 19,000. The study, titled “Source Signature of Volatile Organic Compounds from Oil and Natural Gas Operations in NOrtheastern Colorado,” was published in Environmental Science and Technology in January, 2013.

The study’s lead author, Jessica Gilman, Ph.D., said, “Average levels of propane [in the air in Weld County] were higher than the range of values reported for 28 U.S. cities. For example, they were four to nine times higher than in Houston, Texas, and Pasadena, California.”

The CU-NOAA study also found that air pollution from oil and gas emissions have a “chemical signature” that clearly differentiates them from other air pollution sources, like vehicular exhaust.

The study found that more than half of ozone-forming pollutants in Erie come from drilling activity.

Retail Marijuana Coming to DeBeque

DeBequeThe new marijuana economy crept a bit closer to Grand Junction this week, after the citizens of DeBeque, Colorado, just 25 miles east of Grand Junction, voted to approve the sale of retail pot.

DeBeque’s election is an object lesson for everyone who thinks their vote won’t count.

DeBeque has just over 500 residents. Of the 234 ballots sent out, 165 were cast. Of those, 69 were in favor of retail marijuana and 65 against. The measure won by just four votes.

DeBeque’s Town Clerk, Shirley Nichols, reports the election went smoothly, with no questionable ballots.

So, in DeBeque’s case, just four voters indisputably made Colorado history.

Hey, man, but isn’t retail pot illegal in Mesa County?

Amendment 64 legalized recreational use of marijuana throughout the state, but the law allows cities and counties to opt out of permitting retail marijuana commerce within their borders.

In August, 2013, Mesa County’s three Commissioners — Rose Pugliese, John Justman and Steve Aquafresca — unilaterally passed an ordinance banning retail marijuana commerce (pdf) in the county, but the measure only bans retail pot in unincorporated areas of the county. Incorporated cities and towns can make their own choice, so DeBeque, an incorporated town, can do whatever it wants.

And it did.

Interestingly, DeBeque citizens voted down a medical marijuana question in November, 2012. That measure failed by about 13 or 14 votes. So what’s changed since then?

Colorado Health Department Investigating Spike in Fetal Abnormalities in Heavily-Drilled Garfield County

Cross-posted from DeSmogBlog.com

Garfield County drilling rig (Photo: Garfield County government)

Garfield County drilling rig (Photo: Garfield County government)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has called in an epidemiologist to investigate a recent spike in fetal abnormalities in Garfield County on Colorado’s western slope. Stacey Gavrell, Director of Community Relations for Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said area prenatal care providers reported an increase in fetal abnormalities to the hospital, which then notified CDPHE. So far neither the hospital nor the state have released information about the numbers of cases reported, over what span of time, or the amount of the increase.

Gavrell said it is too early to speculate on the causes of the spike in abnormalities.

The report comes on the heels of the February, 2014 publication in Environmental Health Perspectives of a study that found an association between the density of natural gas wells within a ten mile radius of expectant mothers’ homes and the prevalence of fetal anomalies such as low birth weight and congenital heart defects in their infants.

The study examined a large cohort of babies over an extended period of time in rural Colorado, and specifically controlled for confounding factors that also emit air pollution, including traffic and other heavy industries. The abnormalities in infants in the study are associated with exposure to air pollutants like those emitted from natural gas wells, including volatile organic compounds and nitrogen dioxide.

map of current drilling activity in the Garfield County area shows the number and concentration of active wells along the busy I-70 corridor between Glenwood Springs and Rifle, one of the areas of interest in CDPHE’s investigation.

Colorado Legislators Seek to Punish Cities that Ban Fracking

Cross-posted from DeSmogBlog.com

Colorado Representative Frank McNulty announced  initiative effort to punish cities that ban fracking

Colorado Representative Frank McNulty announced initiative effort to punish cities that ban fracking

Two Colorado legislators announced they are introducing a ballot initiative aimed at punishing cities and towns that vote to ban fracking within their borders.

Rep. Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling, both Republicans, announced they will attempt to get an initiative on the ballot to block local jurisdictions from getting severance tax revenues or grants from Departments of Local Affairs as long as they have fracking bans or moratoria in place.

The state collects severance taxes on income derived from the extraction of non-renewable natural resources, like oil and gas, coal and metallic minerals. Severance taxes also help pay for programs administered by Departments of Local Affairs.

The legislators estimated it will cost about $150,000 to get the initiative on the November, 2014 ballot. According to the Colorado Secretary of State, they  would need to gather approximately 86,000 valid signatures.

The lawmakers did not say why they chose a ballot initiative instead of just introducing legislation to achieve this goal, but it could be because they know chances are slim it would pass in Colorado’s Democratically-controlled legislature.

New Business Coalition Forms in Colorado to Fight Anti-Fracking Movement

Cross-posted from DeSmogBlog.com
Vital for Colorado's full page "Energy Chaos" ad is aimed at derailing a potential ballot initiative to rein in corporate power over citizens

Vital for Colorado’s full page “Energy Chaos” ads, run in rural areas of the state, are aimed at derailing a potential ballot initiative to rein in corporate power over citizens

A new pro-fracking business coalition called “Vital for Colorado” (VfC) has sprung up to fight the growing grassroots anti-fracking movement in Colorado. VfC’s board chairman and registered agent is Peter T. Moore, a senior partner at the Denver law firm of Polsinelli, P.C., which serves the oil and gas industry. Calls and emails to Peter T. Moore and VfC seeking information on the group’s major funders and legal registration information went unanswered.

Most of VfC’s supporters (pdf) are chambers of commerce in more rural areas of the state, cattle and dairy farmers, trade groups like the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association, prominent construction and real estate companies, and oil and gas drilling companies like Encana and Suncor Energy, which is based in Calgary, Alberta, and not in Colorado.
So why has VfC gone to Colorado’s hinterlands to try to drum up support? Because VfC’s best chance to gain support appears to be away from the front range, where so far five front range cities have passed ordinances banning fracking within their limits, a fact that has apparently made a big impression on Colorado businesses.

 

In typical front group fashion, VfC’s website doesn’t list a phone number and only permits email contact through a web form, but the site does give a street address for the group: 4950 S. Yosemite St., F2 #236. Coincidentally this is the same address as the former office of the issue group “No on Measure 2A,” whose registered agent was also Peter T. Moore.