Letters | CU´s fracking study


Corrections: The Oct. 4 article “Turning little thumbs green” mistakenly identified Judy Converse as Judy Spencer. In addition, the story incorrectly stated that Converse conducts classes at her practice.

The Oct. 4 Vote Guide mistakenly identified the District 13 state representative race as a county commissioner race, and misspelled the last name of Colorado State Board of Education candidate Pamela Mazanec as Mazarec.

CU’s fracking study

(Re: “CU fracking study author: No pressure from oil/gas industry,” News, Aug. 30.) President Obama has been a supporter of expanded natural gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Fracking is a toxic, industrialized process that is being brought into our residential neighborhoods without knowing all of the hazards beforehand. This is evidenced by the fact that the National Science Foundation (an agency that the president controls) has just awarded $12 million to a team of scientists, led by CU Professor Joseph Ryan, to study fracking. If the fracking processes were safe and sound, as Gov. Hickenlooper and President Obama want us to believe, then why is it that they see a need to pay $12 million for this study? Why aren’t we, in the United States, following the precautionary principle that European countries follow regarding industrial processes? The precautionary principle states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment then the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.

This is a replay of a bad horror movie. Whenever “our” government and industry decide that they want to put big bucks into the pockets of a few at the expense of the many, such as with GMOs and factory farming, then they proceed with their goal and they totally ignore the precautionary principle. This is apparently because the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution trumps all other parts of the Constitution. The next step is to ignore the citizenry. For fracking, this step is evidenced by the fact that none of the local grassroots groups were quoted in the news coverage about the $12 million study. The next step will be to direct everybody towards this study, which will drag on for years. Then, even if this study concludes that fracking should be banned immediately, our legislative bodies will have to deliberate for years more. All the while, fracking will be allowed in our neighborhoods and beside our schools. In a more realistic scenario, the comments of the lead researcher make it clear that their task is to actually facilitate and justify fracking, rather than to curtail it. Professor Ryan said in a statement, “We all create demand for natural gas, so we have to accept some of the outcomes of its extraction.”

If the $12 million could have gone to solar and wind incentives, then it would have furthered the public interest to a greater extent than a study with a predestined conclusion. Please skip the study and give the money back to the taxpayer as an incentive for wind and solar!

Cliff Smedley/Lafayette

Encana’s ridiculous award

(Re: “And the hypocrisy award goes to…”, In Case You Missed It, Oct. 4.) Unless Charlie Sheen is back in town, Encana “winning” a state environmental award for energy efficiency in Rifle is just wagging the dog.

In 2010 Encana paid $200,000 in fines for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the Piceance Basin, a geologic formation holding large reserves of coal, natural gas and oil shale. The city of Rifle, along with the towns of Silt and Parachute, are all situated in the Piceance Basin. The deaths of some 60 federally protected birds, including waterfowl and owls, occurred at the company’s uncovered gas reserve pits and wastewater storage facilities there and in three Wyoming counties.

Moreover, oil and gas operations have taken a heavy toll throughout Garfield County and the Western Slope region, with negative impacts to both the environment and human health. It’s a cautionary glimpse of what could be in store for the Front Range as drilling operations continue to ramp up production locally.

On Aug. 15, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recognized Encana as one of six “Outstanding Operators of 2011.” That same day, a fatal accident occurred near Fort Lupton when a well head exploded at an Encana drill site, causing the death of one worker and injuring three others.

Rigs, tank batteries, pipelines and truck traffic have become facts of life in Erie. Heavy industry is present near schools, in neighborhoods and public parks, along bike trails and even by the town’s historic cemetery. Without the legal right to determine what’s best for their community, residents are left with growing concerns for the health and safety of their families. What does the future hold for Erie and the 20,000 people who call it home?

Awards are cheap, and so it seems is life, when compared to profit margins.

Diversions aside, the history of hydraulic fracturing and related mining activities in Colorado and elsewhere strongly suggests that more proactive measures now will result in less collateral damage later. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Let’s regulate and legislate accordingly.

Liz Fisher/Erie