Dear Boulder County Commissioners,
Cindy Domenico, Deb Gardner, Elise Jones:
What can I say?
What can I say that I haven't already said for the last seven years of my life to you, other commissioners, city councils, senators, governors, and hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, media everywhere and the entire United States? I have even told the fracking industry the facts on their oil and gas state of failures.
I will now re-iterate.
I warned everyone an incident like Firestone would happen. The probability exists that an oil and gas related catastrophe in residential neighborhoods will happen when industry infrastructure and realistic setbacks are not created. There is no doubt a catastrophic tragedy will happen if Boulder County does not act immediately to pass local laws that protect the “civil rights to safety” of Boulder County citizens and that of the environment and not favor the oil and gas industry.
I have probably reviewed more than a half million Colorado Oil and Gas documents, I have seen documents that illustrate explosive levels of methane and other gases seeping into dozens of homes that had to be evacuated by the COGCC. I have seen documents that show how the Laramie Fox-Hills Aquifer was contaminated with methane and toluene (a fracking fluid) by a well casing leak. Private water wells all over the state have been contaminated by oil and gas operations. Methane and fluid migrations can travel over one mile in distance.
I have seen thousands of spill reports that showed 17.5% of all fracking industry spills had already caused ground water contamination in a statewide study. And a staggering 40% of spills contaminated groundwater in Weld County, where Firestone is located. My studies, which are nothing more than the COGCC’s own documents, were confirmed accurate three years later by Matt Lepore, Director of the COGCC. If any company had contaminated groundwater at a 40% rate they would no doubt be shut down.
I have reviewed documents that illustrate numerous homes in Colorado are build right on top of abandoned oil and gas wells and in a few cases, the home exploded due to methane seepage into the basements. One person was taken to the burn center.
In 2011 the COGCC requested emergency funding in Florence, CO for explosive levels of methane seeping into more than a dozen homes from an abandoned well more than 1,000’ away. The homes had to be immediately evacuated. For perspective, the home in Firestone was 170’ away from an abandoned well.
According to a Cornell University Study: 60% of well-bores fail after 20 years. Meaning; the structural integrity of wellbores degrade, corrode, crack and fall apart after twenty years.
There are six abandoned wells in Boulder City proper that are over 80 years old that appear to be in homeowner’s backyards or underneath or near occupied homes. There are nearly one dozen other abandoned wells that exist in the surrounding areas of the City of Boulder.
There is an 80+ year old abandoned well under Valmont reservoir and two abandoned wells the same age on the beaches of the Boulder Reservoir where, >300,000 people visit annually. There is also an abandoned oil and gas well from the 1930’s less than 200’ feet from Creekside Elementary School. Nearly the same distance as the well in Firestone.
On June 12, 2012 I attended a fracking study session in Loveland, Co where I told the Mayor, planning and zoning commission they could create their own setbacks from fracking industry oil and gas wells. I told them they should locate every active and abandoned well in their city and outlining county and develop new homes away from existing wells in order to protect public health, safety and welfare.
In 2012 I discovered a Setback Loophole and introduced a bill to close it – but the unfortunately, the bill died. COGCC Rule 602(d) states: “Existing 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. And home developers are exempt from any state setbacks from oil and gas operations. This appears to be reckless endangerment and must cease and desist immediately.
August 2012 I gave a formal presentation to the COGCC entitled “The Failures of the State of Colorado to Prevent or Mitigate Adverse Impacts to its Citizens and the Environment.” LINK
The grand loophole of all exists in the COGCC Rules and Regulations. The entirety of the COGCC’s regulations are nothing more than worthless words due to a ‘Waiver Loophole’ that allows any operator to not abide by any rule or regulation regarding oil and gas development and operations that causes them ‘undue financial burden.’
With a single sentence from the oil and gas industry that states “abiding by this rule will cause XYZ Operator and its operations undue financial burden” the industry then does not have to abide by the rule or pay its expense to do so, and is then waived by a simple signature of COGCC Director Matt Lepore. This is the 'Comprehensive Waiver Loophole.'
I lived in Firestone. It was not only a horrific inspiration to launch a full state-wide resistance against the unregulated fracking industry and the State agencies that gave them right of way over public health safety and environment, but it forced me to move to a place that did not have any real immediate danger. I could not protect myself from the inherent dangers of the fracking industry.
|FIRESTONE, CO - each red dot = +|- 52 active wells|
Our civil rights to safety have been stripped from us by federal exemptions and enforced by state supremacy that is arbitrary and capricious, which appears to recklessly endanger public health safety and environment.
As I've said for years now, this is not an anti-fracking issue, it's a civil rights issue and every single human has the constitutional right to live without obstruction to safety. Facts don’t lie, the oil and gas industry and the COGCC do. I believe Firestone could have been prevented, and I tried like hell to prevent it.
I don’t want to ever come back here and tell you what needs to be done as far as moral and ethical obligations to the people and environment of Boulder County. You know what to do to protect the people and we are all counting on you to be as courageous as us. Even if you battle the odds and lose, we will still support you for your courage. The best option is to never allow fossil fuel extraction into Boulder County and we are counting on you to protect us.
We are smarter than a fossil fuel and ‘We Are the Energy of Change.’
May 1, 2017
Feel free to email the Boulder County Commissioners your thoughts or simply cut and paste the above information.
ADDITIONALLY: In this anti-fracking/civil-right movement, or any other movement, I do not condone acts of violence, rhetoric or any action that is not peaceful and safe. Any person who speaks of acts of violence or conducts such acts, are not an associate of mine and should be held accountable for their actions under the system of fair and just law.