Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Inadequate enforcement means current Colorado oil and gas development is irresponsible


Promised Land TRAILER (2012) - Matt Damon Fracking Movie

Clean Water Action delivers 1,000 hand-signed postcards to Governor Hickenlooper

For Immediate Release
September 26, 2012
Clean Water Action, Gary Wockner, 970-218-8310

Clean Water Action delivers 1,000 hand-signed postcards from Denver metro residents asking Governor Hickenlooper to increase drilling/fracking setbacks.

Denver, CO – On Wednesday September 26th, Clean Water Action delivered 1,000 postcards to the Office of the Governor that were hand-signed by residents in the Denver metro area urging Governor Hickenlooper to take action and support a significant increase in the distance drilling and fracking sites can be from homes, schools, and hospitals. Clean Water Action’s canvassing program has been knocking on doors throughout the metro area over the last 6 weeks, educating citizens at the door and helping them take action.

“Current setback standards of 350 feet in densely populated areas are not far enough to protect our air, water, and communities,” said Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action.  “The public’s health and property values are increasingly at risk as drilling encroaches on suburban Colorado.”

The Colorado School of Public Health published a study indicating that cancer causing air emissions from drill sites may cause health impacts up to a half mile from a drill site, which is a 7.5 times greater distance than current Colorado setbacks law requires. 

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has convened a “Setback Stakeholder Group” made up of local governments, environmental groups, individuals, and COGCC staff.  

“We want to see some real leadership from Governor Hickenlooper on this issue,” said Gary Wockner. “Coloradans deserve to have their community’s health, property values, quality of life, and safety protected when a new rulemaking process moves forward about setbacks.”


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


September 18, 2012

Sierra Club and coalition demand closing hazardous oil & gas drilling setback loophole

Contacts:             Shane Davis, Sierra Club Oil & Gas Team, 509.570.4422
                              Joshua Ruschhaupt, Sierra Club RMC Director, 303.454.3362

Denver, CO – Friday, Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter and 12 other groups asked the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to immediately address, and close its existing “Setback Loophole.”  In addition the minimum setback standards need to be significantly expanded.  Sign-on letter attached below.

This Setback Loophole allows any “completed” well to be re-entered and re-drilled regardless of proximity to a structure. There are approximately 4,000 active oil and gas wells that are closer to residential structures than the COGCC setback mandate of 350’. There are also approximately 82,000 abandoned wells in Colorado, and early statistics show that approximately 55% of abandoned wells are being re-entered and re-drilled, meaning there could eventually be tens of thousands of wells closer to residential structures than the current setback mandates. The Setback Loophole denies the COGCC the power to prevent and mitigate adverse environmental and human health impacts

In addition, the current minimum drilling setback standards are far short (350’ urban, 150’ rural) of needed protections, and the Sierra Club RMC and coalition signers of this letter to the COGCC request a minimum of 2,000’ plus 100’ for each additional well bore, due to the concentration of on-site emissions from aggregated wellbores.


About The Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and supporters nationwide.  In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying and litigation. For more information, visit

Sierra ClubSierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter
1536 Wynkoop St., 4B-1
Denver, CO 80202

A copy of the letter submitted to the COGCC:

Matthew Lepore
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
1120 Lincoln Street, Suite 801
Denver, Colorado 80203

September 14, 2012

Dear Mr. Lepore,

The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter requests that the State begin a rulemaking process for increasing minimum setbacks for oil and gas drilling to 2,000 feet plus an additional 100 feet per additional onsite wellbore near residences, schools, playgrounds/sports fields/parks, hospitals, nursing homes, and other similar facilities, due to the concentration of on-site emissions from aggregated wellbores. Current state regulations mandate a minimum setback distance of just 350 feet in all urban settings.

The Sierra Club believes that the protection of human life, public welfare, and the environment are essential factors to be considered by all levels of government when making siting decisions. We believe that land use planning should include in the siting decisions the protection of air and water quality, and public welfare. Such facilities should be excluded from certain categories of land zoning, and should proceed only after a need for them has been demonstrated. []

This request for a rulemaking addresses probable adverse impacts to the environment and human health from oil and natural gas development that uses hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). The COGCC setbacks are not based on health impact studies, and no apparent scientific data support the COGCC’s claim that the current setbacks prevent or mitigate adverse impacts.

Setback Loophole
In addition, there is a “Setback Loophole” in the COGCC 600 Series Rules. Rule 603(a) lays out setbacks from various types of development; for example, wells must be sited at least 150 feet from property lines in rural areas, and 350 feet from high density structures. However, Rule 602(d) states: “Existing ‘completed’ wells are exempt from the provisions of these regulations as they relate to the location of the well.”

This Setback Loophole allows any ‘completed’ well to be re-entered and re-drilled regardless of proximity to a structure. There are approximately 4,000 active oil and gas wells that are closer to residential structures than the COGCC setback mandate of 350’. There are also approximately 82,000 abandoned wells in Colorado, and early statistics show that approximately 55% of abandoned wells are being re-entered and re-drilled, meaning there could eventually be tens of thousands of wells closer to residential structures than the current setback mandates. The Setback Loophole denies the COGCC the power to prevent and mitigate adverse environmental and human health impacts.

It is urgent that the COGCC fully address and update the current inadequate setbacks, for oil and gas development near high density residential areas, including, but not limited to: hospitals, public schools, buildings and grounds, parks, playgrounds, and other areas of special concern.   We request that the Setback Loophole allowing for oil & gas activities be closed, and that the COGCC abide by its mission to prevent and mitigate adverse environmental impacts, which also  impact human health and welfare.

Protecting Water Quality
Northern Colorado is in the midst of an unprecedented increase in oil and gas drilling, including fracking, taking place near densely-populated residential areas. A recent analysis by Sierra Club and Clean Water Action found that 44% of all operator spills have caused and are continuing to cause groundwater contamination. 3.1% have caused surface water contamination and 57% of protective berms failed to prevent secondary fluid migrations.

Since the 2008 COGCC Rule change, ground water contaminations have risen by 3.5% and berm failures increased by 3% to 60% of all berms having failed to prevent secondary fluid migration.

The Sierra Club has identified fracking and its associated impacts as the issue of utmost concern in Colorado, and EPA studies are needed to identify a wide range of potential adverse impacts on human health, and until such studies are completed, we should proceed with utmost caution in exposing our communities to unknown and possibly dangerous impacts.

Protecting Air Quality
Both science and experience in Colorado establish that the COGCC should adhere to its statutory mandate of protecting human health in the conduct of oil and gas operations by 1) minimizing fugitive emissions and other toxic chemicals, and 2) maximizing the distance of natural gas facilities from residences and other public places based on the good science of sound health impact assessments.  These two principles should guide state policy on oil and gas activities in populated areas.

We are respectfully requesting that the state of Colorado recognize the continuing weaknesses in “the strongest regulations in the Country,” as is often quoted in the media, and continue to lead the country with improvements that show Coloradans that the COGCC is addressing their concerns swiftly and comprehensively.  This is an industry that appears to know no boundaries when it comes to the average citizen looking out of their home windows.  We need the COGCC to be responsive and pro-active with regard to protecting the environment Coloradans depend upon for our lifestyle, quality of living, health, and welfare.

Studies linking oil and gas development to water contamination can be found at the following links:

For a complete listing of Sierra Club policies as they relate to this industry, see:


Shane Davis
Oil & Gas Team Research & Information Manager
Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

Joshua Ruschhaupt
Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter
1536 Wynkoop St., 4B-1
Denver, CO 80202

Additional signing organizations:

Dr. Gary Wockner
Colorado Program Advisor
Clean Water Action
1536 Wynkoop Street, Suite B-400
Denver, CO 80202

Shane Davis
PO BOX 576
Longmont, CO 80502

Jennifer Palazzolo
Erie Rising
2770 Arapahoe Suite 222
Lafayette, CO 80026

Claudette Konola
Western Colorado Congress Mesa Cnty
Mesa County WCC
PO Box 1931
Grand Junction, CO 81502

Christine Canaly
San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council
P.O. Box 223
Alamosa, CO 81101
(719) 589-1518 (office)
(719) 256-4758 (hm office)

Jodee Brekee
Commerce City Unite NOW
Adams County Unite NOW
106th Ave
Commerce City

Eleanor J. Jefferson
Lakewood Fracktivists
640 S, Vance St,
Lakewood,CO 80226

Rico Moore
Fort Collins Citizens for Health and the Environment
The Cache la Poudre River Foundation
721 West Myrtle Street
Fort Collins, CO 80521

Kim Orr
Loveland Rising

Sloan Shoemaker
Executive Director
Wilderness Workshop
PO Box 1442
Carbondale, CO 81623

Jim Ramey, Director
Citizens for a Healthy Community
P.O. Box 291
Hotchkiss, Colorado 81419
970. 527.7779

Roz McClellan
Rocky Mountain Recreation Initiative
1567 Twin Sisters Rd.
Nederland, CO 80466
303.447.9409, 720.635.7799

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sierra Club Releases New Report Highlighting Attack on Clean Energy

“Clean Energy Under Siege” Study Follows Money Trail Behind Campaign Against Renewable Energy 

WASHINGTON D.C. – Over the past decade, the fossil fuel industry has mounted a coordinated campaign to discredit renewable energy and hinder its growth, according to a new report released today by the Sierra Club.

The report, Clean Energy Under Siege, reveals how the fossil fuel industry is using tactics such as financial contributions to political campaigns, faux “think tanks,” phony intellectuals, and astroturf groups to shift public opinion and discredit renewable energy.

This misinformation campaign is currently evident in the struggle to renew the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy. The PTC helps support the more than 75,000 jobs in the wind industry, but if the tax credit is not renewed before the end of this year, as many as half those jobs could be lost.

"From California to Pennsylvania, clean energy jobs are under attack by fossil fuel interest groups – yet many in Congress are sitting on their hands while tens of thousands of American jobs hang in the balance," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "It seems these members of Congress prefer serving the interests of the big polluters that bankrolled their campaigns over the interests of working families. That needs to end now. Congress must stand up for the tens of thousands of Americans whose jobs are on the line and renew the Production Tax Credit."

The Sierra Club’s report follows the trail of money from big polluters to politicians and non-profit front groups. For example, the oil and gas industry spent more than $146 million on lobbying alone in 2011, while Big Oil tycoons David and Charles Koch gave at least $85 million to 85 right-wing “think tanks” and advocacy groups over the past decade and a half. Meanwhile, organizations like the Manhattan Institute and the Heartland Institute that defend oil subsidies while attacking renewable energy have received upwards of $600,000 each since 1998 from the oil company Exxon.

Wind power is a clean, competitive energy source that has seen strong momentum over the past few years. Already, states like Iowa and South Dakota generate 20 percent of their electricity from wind power, and the wind industry is on track to produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030. More than 400 American manufacturing plants build wind components, keeping jobs close to home.



Click image and docx to enlarge

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tell Governor Hickenlooper: Let Longmont ban fracking!

Hi friends,

Recently, the city of Longmont passed some commonsense regulations to protect its citizens from rapidly expanding natural gas fracking in Colorado.

Fracking is a threat to our communities and our climate—but Governor Hickenlooper is taking the unprecedented step of suing the city of Longmont, claiming that local governments shouldn't be allowed to regulate or ban the dangerous practice.

Tell Governor Hickenlooper: Let Longmont ban fracking!

Then please join us at the following events to stand up for Longmont and local communities throughout the state:

Deliver declaration against fracking and invitation to Governor Hickenlooper

WHEN: Wednesday, September 19, 11:00 AM

WHERE: Governor Hickenlooper’s office, 200 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO
Activists will deliver the “Declaration of Solidarity Against Fracking” signed by more than 4,000 Coloradans, along with an invitation for the Governor to join the “Rally ‘Round Longmont” on Sept 22. We're inviting Hickenlooper to explain why he is suing the citizens of Longmont  and allowing the gas industry to frack next to their homes and schools.

Rally ‘Round Longmont

WHEN: Saturday, September 22, from 11:00 AM-1:00 PM

WHERE: Location: Rogers Grove, 220 Hover Road, Longmont, CO
Hundreds of Longmont residents and concerned Coloradans will gather and speak out for local control and against fracking. We'll have music, family activities, and solidarity. No word yet on whether Governor Hickenlooper will attend!

It's up to us to stand up for our communities. Don't let the Governor stand in our way, and don't let him get away with suing the city of Longmont.


Want to stay in touch locally? Connect with 350 Colorado on the web, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Water shortage pits farmers, drillers against each other

FOX 31 Denver

LONGMONT, Colo. — Just west of I-25, along Highway 119, about 50 protestors lined up outside Encana Oil and Gas in Longmont. 
Organizers say it was a surprise protest by concerned citizens and farmers about water. The protest lasted about two hours.

Continue reading...

Dear Governor Hickenlooper, You are failing your professional responsibility to inform your readers. Period.

Sept. 11, 2012

Editor, The Denver Post
101 West Colfax Ave., Ste.600
Denver, CO  80202


As a professional print journalist (retired) and as a former member of the Iowa House of Repre-
sentatives, with some understanding of how a person just might, possibly, get the attention of an editor or a governor, I let my Sept. 2 letter to you sit for “cooling”.  Today’s published Letter congratulating the Post editorial staff for your thorough research has set me off again. Baloney!

This one gets sent. Because – at least re: fracking - you folks are so negligent in your research as to register as close to incompetent in your charge to inform your readers. Maybe you’re just lazy. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe the increasingly frequent half-page ads from those environmental paragons, the “Oh, Gee” (Oil and Gas) Gals and Guys color your approach. 

Whichever…you are failing your professional responsibility to inform your readers. Period.

Your Sept. 2 editorial supporting fracking in Colorado again stated that groundwater contamination due to fracking has not been established.  Have you ever cast a simple glance, yet alone a study, toward the COGCC reports of spills?  If so, why haven’t you picked up that 43% of surface spills in Colorado have contaminated groundwater?

More so, why haven’t you reported/commented on the confirmed surface water contamina-
tion (same source), given that only 18% of Colorado’s drinking water comes from groundwater?

Did anyone in Editorial read the front page DW section piece on the problem of cleaning up old mining toxins that flow, eventually, into the Dillon Reservoir?  Ah….that was then; we know better now.  Right?  Science eventually will find a way to clean up all the documented radioactive waste and cancer-causing chemicals from fracking residue and emissions.  Right?

For that matter, do you all ever look at your business pages?  Today’s Post has a piece on the extent of fracking in the U.S. and your reporter cites Colorado as being one of the top two states in the nation for fracking activity.  Lifts up Weld County as the premier example.

What about Commerce City? Firestone? Erie? Longmont? Loveland? Ft. Collins? The entire front range which is, not incidentally, a healthy chunk of Colorado’s population and your readership.
Have you ever taken a “Fracking Tour” with the Sierra Club and experienced the burning in your lungs or the tearing in your eyes as you stand in someone’s front yard with a well pad looming next to you? Or sat in a classroom with kids trying to learn over the chunk-a-chunk-a-chunk-a of a drill just beyond your school’s windows?

Have you ever examined the conflict between the State’s “best use” and the Constitution’s Article XX Home Rule provision giving complete authority over to municipal governments? The State is suing Longmont over this provision. Have you considered how citizens feel when they have paid taxes to and testified for their city Planning and Zoning Commission or Long Range Environmental Sustainability Planning or Tourism Bureaus only to have the State (COGCC) come in and tell your City Council, “You can try for anything you want, but we will over-ride you” regarding placement of rigs in backyards or next to hospitals or schools?

I know that I’m old.  Old-fashioned. Not current. I’m a throw-back to the times when the press and political leaders had some responsibility to the people. Ahh.. I do thank you for keeping my blood pressure from tanking. And I’m sending this damn letter anyway.

Sue B. Mullins

c/The Honorable John Hickenlooper

Monday, September 3, 2012

Asthma takes toll on Basin residents - Oil and Gas Development

Mary Bernard, Vernal Express
The just-released Asthma Burden Report for 2012 shows that 9 percent of adults and 7 percent of children have asthma in Utah.

Every day a statewide average of 20 people struggle with asthma attacks potentially so severe that they need treatment at a hospital.

What does this mean for the TriCounty Health Department regional residents of Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties?

Lost work days, lost school days, and lost lives –— the cost of asthma to our communities is cumulative.

On Thursday the TriCounty Asthma Coalition met to look into the report numbers in relation to local asthma treatment numbers.

Findings indicate that Uinta Basin asthma sufferers are twice as likely to be hospitalized; 57 basin residents per 10,000 people in population versus the state average 25 people.

Emergency numbers for children remain protected by law, but among school-aged children 41 percent cite asthma as the cause for missed school days.

Locally, children and adult asthma sufferers who go to the emergency room during an asthma attack are more likely to be admitted.

“The fact that our residents with asthma are going to the emergency department and being hospitalized so often means we need to mobilize our community partners and work together on this issue,” said Jeramie Tubbs, TriCounty spokesperson.

Educating the public about persistent risk factors says Tubbs is way to reduce asthma’s impact.

Risk factors like; adult sufferers are more often obese, while children with asthma are more likely to have parents who smoke.

Often lifetime sufferers are exposed to risk factors that are work-related like chemicals, dust, exhaust emissions, and smoke, according to the report.

The Uintah Basin is home to the largest oil and natural fields in the West and too, the basin Winter Ozone Study: a $5million scientific research analysis of reportedly some of the worst air quality in the U.S.

Preliminary findings of the study indicate a strong link between the extraction industry and air quality citing specific two things: “volatile organic compounds and nitrogen” says Joseph Shaffer, TriCounty director...


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