The true cost of fracking
The article “Fracking Lessons” by Joel Dyer (cover story, May 31) is a painful, tragic warning for us all. It shows vividly how the theoretical knowledge we call “capitalistic economics” is fatally flawed.
Louis and Donna Meeks, described in the article, live on a small ranch in the Muddy Ridge gas field about six miles from the town of Pavillion, Wyo. Encana drills for gas in the area and injects chemicals into the earth that find their way into the well water of the Meeks. The contaminated air and water cause severe health problems for the Meeks and their animals. Moreover, their property, valued at $239,000 in 2006, is now valueless. The cost to the Meeks’ property and health is probably about $500,000, but this cost, real as it is to the Meeks, does not find its way into the calculation for the price of the gas extracted near their property. The gurus of capitalism, our economists, call this cost an “externality.”
Because the price of many goods does not reflect their true costs, there are enormous, potentially disastrous distortions in our economic system. From 2000 to 2004, cigarette smoking was estimated to be responsible for $193 billion in direct and indirect health-related economic losses in the U.S. (See www.cdc.gov/tobacco). If the price of cigarettes included these true costs, the selling price would be so high no one would buy them. The reality is that smokers slake their appetites, and the producers of cigarettes are among the most profitable of U.S. corporations. This $193 billion externality is paid by us all.
However, the end of this nonsense may be in sight. The kahuna of all externalities is global warming. Assuming that most scientists are correct in that an ever-heating planet is the result of human production of carbon dioxide, and assuming that gas operated vehicles are a prime source of the carbon dioxide, given an iota of sense and economic knowledge, we should expect the price of gas to be skyrocketing. But it is not.
Remember, we are talking externalities here. Yes, our great American economic system, plus the greatest political system in human memory, keeps the price of gas unreflective of the real costs. We all have a hand in this. We must demand that the price of gas reflects every cent of real costs. More civilized European nations are increasing the cost of gas to over double what we now pay. Not us, aren’t we lucky?
Soon our grandchildren may all be like the Meeks — struggling for health and living in a poisoned land. Capitalism to the very end!
Artie Wolfe/Black Hawk
What?! Now the governor and the state of Colorado will sue any entity that dares to try to change, or objects to, current fracking practices?
Threat, threat. Are we supposed to knuckle under like frightened sheep?
Bear in mind, several European countries and several states in the U.S. have banned fracking completely.
What if we sue the state for pandering to gas and oil companies rather than protecting/preserving our air, water, land and human health?
Garry vs. Elise
Boulder Weekly’s recent review of candidates for county commissioner (“Our take on the District 1 commissioner race,” June 7) fell short in its analysis of the Democratic primary race for the only contested race.
Here’s my take on this race between Garry Sanfaçon and Elise Jones. While both are good candidates, Garry stands out because of his solid principles to stand up to power by money interests and short-sighted corporations. It is not clear that Elise would be as strong in confronting these influences, but would likely take a more technical and bureau cratic approach to governance.
I stand for Garry Sanfaçon for county commissioner and urge others to vote for him on their primary ballots. Garry Sanfaçon is principled in defending the right of local citizens and local government to do what is right to protect our environment, and in particular to protect our food supplies and support local organic agriculture. He will vote to ban GMOs on county lands and seek to control corporate-dominated agriculture and their incessant pushing of toxic pesticides and untested genetically engineered crops. He will work to stop the pollution of our water, air and land from hydraulic fracturing by a ban on these practices. He will act to protect our limited water resources in the face of climate change and other pressures.
Garry will serve the underprivileged and disadvantaged in our midst, a disturbingly large part of the population of Boulder County. Garry will assert local control when state and federal government fails to protect and serve the people and our precious natural environment.
He will stand up to corporations when they attempt to run roughshod over individual and community rights by their single-minded focus on instant gratification for profits, instead of being good corporate citizens who should perform for the public good, and protect and enhance our environment.
Garry will reach out and be a good listener to public input and make transparency in government an absolute foundation for local county government. Garry is open to listening and developing a communitywide vision for the long term.
From my many conversations with him, his personal vision matches my vision for Boulder County as a place where we can be proud to live because it is principled, has integrity, is forwardlooking, values the natural world and protects it, and seeks to be a leader for a saner, more equitable world.
Vote for Garry Sanfaçon. Richard Andrews/Boulder
Excellent delineation of the Sanfaçon-Jones race. I’m sure Elise is a fine person, but it’s easy to see the results of her “compromise” position:
1. The Commanche III coal-fired power plant, which the Sierra Club, etc., accepted in trade for cleaning up other plants a bit. This was decades after we all knew what coal burning does. The driest spring in memory, the hottest year on record so far, and the High Park Fire are just the beginning of reaping what compromise has sown.
2. Sen. Mark Udall, who made so many “friends” during his race in 2010 by saying offshore drilling was OK with him if it’s OK with states. He’s since said fracking is safe, that nuclear plants need even more subsidies, and that we should give free CO2 pollution permits to coal plants. What a home run for the fossil industries! Doubt it? See the mainstream media links at http://spryeye.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-senmark-udall-environmmentalist-or.html.
Leaders are supposed to stand up for their communities, like the sheriffs who refuse to foreclose on widows, etc. The people will stand behind leaders who stand up for us.
Erie is not divided
(Re: “A town divided,” News, June 14.) Hadley Vandiver’s interesting and very worthwhile article about social impacts of the current fracking issue in Erie — which aims to get at the big picture by showing different points of view — misses the mark in its portrayal of the local climate.
A town divided, downcast eyes and fists in the air? This is not my perception. I see concern, commitment, resolve and persistence, not angry mili tance or a polarized population. The overwhelming majority of expressed opposition seems to be coming from the industry itself and from parties with corporate connections or vested interests.
Those of us who support the efforts of Erie Rising are fighting for answers from the oil and gas industry that prove their operations are safe. We are fighting for accountability and reform. We’re not fighting with our neighbors. Quite the contrary, in fact. We reach out to them.
In Pandora’s Box, a fable Ms.
Vandiver references at the conclusion of her article, there is one thing left in the box after all the evils in the world have been released. It is Hope. We have confidence that our hope for appropriate regulation and oversight of this industrial activity will come to pass. We’ll continue to stay focused on and work toward that goal.
Onward and upward, Erie Rising!