Sunday, November 16, 2014

Is Fracking Safe?

How can it be?

There are 55,000 wells in Colorado with 22,000 in Weld County alone, and yet there are only 18 state inspectors.

See more oil field accidents here
There are more than
  •  850 Notices of Alleged Violations 
  • 600 Public Complaints
  • 1,200 Spill Incident Reports  

See the database of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)

Learn the facts about Gas and Oil development at this upcoming free presentation by Robert R. Winkler, International Risk Management Professional.

November 19, 2014

from 6:30 - 8:30 PM

Leeper Center, 

3800 Wilson Ave, 

Wellington, CO

Co-Sponsored by

Weld Air and Water.
Food and Water Watch
Women's International for Peace and Freedom
Move To Amend
Frack Free Colorado
Renewable Energy Coalition of Colorado

Monday, October 27, 2014

Declining Air Quality Danger to Children

See why our air is not safe to breathe! I would like to see FLIR footage of all installations in Greeley!

"I have lived in Greeley my entire life. I have been an RN here for twelve years and work with women, infants and children. To reiterate what the respiratory therapist and Doctor Montes said, there are a lot of peer reviewed, scientific articles which are the type of information that we are to consider as factual,.. and so there is evidence that shows a danger from the declining air quality and I know that I am personally going to see the effects of that when I care for the children in town
The American Nurses Association's stance on oil and gas development follow the precautionary principle. The burden of proof that something is safe, is on the industry, not on the citizens...To me, having these setbacks from a school, that seems very reasonable, very doable, and like a baby step to keep our children safe.... 
Yes, the jobs and the economy in Greeley are amazing,...but if we don't have healthy citizens, really what good is that? I personally think the government's number one priority is to protect the health of its citizens..."

 See the recorded testimony to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee below.

Increase in birth defects near oil and gas wells

"Pediatricians with a lot of experience...already describe problems in children within large range, I'm not talking about 1500 feet, I'm talking about the whole city...who's kidding who here?...The implications of this for the short, medium and long term, are so tremendously critical!...I have a lot of women friends who have disabled children, and when you are talking about 30% increases in birth defects and such...I don't know what else to say!"

See the entire recorded testimony to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission below.

Also see this recent article:

Dead babies near oil drilling sites raise questions for researchers

 "..Beau and a dozen other infants died in this oil-booming basin last year. Was this spike a fluke? Bad luck? Or were these babies victims of air pollution fed by the nearly 12,000 oil and gas wells in one of the most energy-rich areas in the country? Some scientists whose research focuses on the effect of certain drilling-related chemicals on fetal development believe there could be a link." 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Few People Choose Clear Conscience over Greed

Alice Zinnes from Pennsylvania is one of disturbingly few mineral rights owners who chose a clear conscience over greed.

 She shares:

"I was offered a lease (I have about 7 acres) but refused it. I love my home, my land, my area, the animals, birds and fish living near me, and all living things on this planet. No matter how much money I would have been offered, I would never accept a lease to frack my land. Instead, I have been actively fighting against the abomination of fracking.

The more I learn about it, the more horrified I am that our government is allowing the destruction of our country, the contamination of our water, air and land, the onslaught of the strangest diseases, the loss of traditional jobs, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the spreading of silica dust... the list goes on and on.

In my opinion, the only reason fracking is being allowed in this country is that a few CEOs of the richest industries in the world are getting richer, and with their wealth, and the wealth of their companies, they are buying off our politicians. It's that simple".
Source: Pennsylvania Fracking: A History Of Shale Gas Drilling, As Told By The People Who Live There

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Coloradoans Affected by Oil and Gas

Almost four years ago, Chris Mobaldi died. In 1995, she and her husband, Steve, moved from California to a 10-acre ranch in Rifle, Colorado. Within a year, they had new neighbors — the oil and gas industry. They began drilling on a property about 3,000 feet to the west, and soon there were about 20 wells within a mile of their home.

The Mobaldis began to experience burning eyes and nosebleeds. Chris’ symptoms soon worsened: fatigue, headaches, hand numbness, bloody stools, and rashes, welts and blisters on her skin. The pain became unbearable. Chris was eventually diagnosed with some sort of chemical exposure, but the doctor could not identify what the chemicals were.

Her joints began swelling and large white bumps started appearing on her elbows and hands. Steve experienced rectal bleeding. Two of their dogs developed tumors, as did a neighbor’s dog. Newly planted trees on their ranch began dying. The drillers invaded.

In congressional testimony in 2007, Steve Mobaldi wrote:

"In 1997 employees from an oil and gas company were on my property when I arrived home. We were informed a natural gas well was being placed across the street and the drilling was to go under our property. The rig operated for months about 300 feet from our house. There was an open unlined pit closer than the rig. Then they began flaring and it shook our house day and night for weeks. The gas well was finished in 1998." 
Their neighbor’s water well soon exploded and fracking fluid spewed everywhere; the neighbors had to evacuate their home. The next day, oil and gas employees told the Mobaldis to stop drinking their water and that fresh water would be provided to them. Four months later, they were told their water had been tested and was safe to drink again.
"Although the water would fizz like soda with smaller bubbles, we were told the water was safe. Sand began to accumulate in our water filter. If we set a glass of water out overnight, a thin oily film would float on top. We stopped drinking it." 

In March 2001, Chris developed a pituitary tumor. Two years later, she had another one. In 2004, the Mobaldis packed up and moved 60 miles west to Grand Junction, abandoning the house after trying to sell it for years. The move slowed the progression of her illnesses, but the damage had been done. In 2005, Chris’ gallbladder had to be removed. It was the size of a small pineapple with excessive adhesions. On November 14, 2010 she died, 45 days after surgery for her third pituitary tumor. Chris Mobaldi was 63.

The Mobaldi’s story is shown in the 2009 documentary Split Estate.

Read more about affected people, HERE.

Source: A Death in Colorado

Also see: Oil-Field Health Studies Continue but Answers  are Still Lacking

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Air Monitoring Not Something We Typically Do

Extraction's Oil and Gas informational neighborhood meeting at Frontier Academy drew about 70 people, and several of those were from the industry itself. The vice president of Mineral Resources, Logan Richardson, and one of his brothers were in the audience too, but they or their company now partnering with Extraction, were not mentioned a single time. See the Tribune's article on this 'strategic' alliance.

Chief Financial Officer Rusty Kelley (left), listens to a parent.
Before the meeting I thought Extraction was a large operator and would use state of the art equipment; a
stationary drilling rig versus the mobile, rickety kind that Mineral resources uses, but when president Matt Owens introduced himself, I realized that Extraction is only a marginally bigger company than Mineral Resources. According to info on Linkedin it has between 11 and 50 employees.
Extraction President Matt Owens

The young age of Owens, barely older than 30, should perhaps raise a red flag. He worked in the industry for three employers for a total of eight years. Is that really long enough to build the expertise necessary to start a company (founded in November, 2012) and, more importantly, taking on the job of drilling inside a city, near a school? 

One of the best questions asked was by a parent who wondered if Extraction would monitor the air quality near the school on a regular basis. Owens said that "Air monitoring is not something we typically do", then handed the microphone to John Tonello for a more in depth answer. See video below.

If an oil and gas installation was to be placed near my child's school I would certainly want to know if the air near the building and playground would be safe enough to breathe on a regular basis. This recent finding by Project Playground: Cleaner Air for Active Kids is of special interest to parents with children in close proximity to wells. For instance:

"Benzene was found at all but one sampling location, and it was found at levels above the TCEQ ESLand the AMCV at three locations. This particularly noteworthy as benzene is a known carcinogen (based on evidence from studies in both people and lab animals), AND because it exceeds both the TCEQ ESL and AMCV. Benzene has been linked largely to leukemia and cancers of other blood cells. Benzene can also cause excessive bleeding and can affect the immune system, increasing the chance for infection.
TCEQ ESL: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Effects Screening Levels 
AMCV:  Air Monitoring Comparison Values
Source: Project Playground Report 

All the more reason to monitor the air. If the company is so sure no emissions of any kind from the pad will reach the school, they should be willing to prove it, and in doing so offer parents much needed peace of mind.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Greeley's Mineral Resources partners with Denver firm

Source: Greeley Tribune article by Sharon Dunn

Greeley’s hometown oil and gas exploration company just got a little less hometown. Officials from Mineral Resources Inc. announced on Monday it had formed a “strategic alliance” with Denver-based Extraction Oil and Gas, a private exploration and drilling firm. Word on the street for the last month has been that the Denver firm put out nine figures to acquire Mineral, but no specific numbers have been confirmed. It’s a move that’s privately getting mixed reviews. Some wonder if the addition of a Denver company will offer new blood to renegotiate proposed Mineral Resources drilling sites that have drawn the ire of some residents. Others wonder how local this new operation could be.

 “I’m glad to hear Extraction has acquired Mineral,” said Trisha Golding, a representative of the Frontier Parent Group, which has resisted Mineral Resources’ efforts to drill more oil and gas wells near the playground of Frontier Elementary in south Greeley. She said the acquisition was confirmed last month to her by officials from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. “We’re looking forward to working with them,” Golding said of Extraction. “I’m thinking it’ll be better. They’re really looking forward to working with Greeley, and they are already fostering a better conversation with Frontier parents than we’ve had in the past.”

Word about a buyout had been circulating in the oil and gas community for the last month, but officials from both companies would not discuss the deal other than through a news release issued late Monday. Officials from the companies refused to comment any further than the release, and did not return calls from The Tribune or answer questions via email. According to the release, what the “alliance” means is a combination of assets that they say will strengthen a commitment to Greeley and “ensures the support and development of positive initiatives like the use of quieter drilling rigs, reduced traffic and continued environmental stewardship.”

 The release stated that Mineral Resources will continue to work on leasing operations, while Extraction will do the rest, maintaining its Greeley field office. “Extraction represents one of the most logical industry partners we could identify to help us further develop our Greeley area assets,” said Mineral Resources President Arlo Richardson in a news release.

“They are Denver-based with a Greeley office, are a well-capitalized, private company that shares our views on prudent oilfield operations and community responsibility. We value their operational expertise and experience developing horizontal wells in the Wattenberg field. The strategic alliance creates a stronger private-company presence in the Basin, and also provides assurance to our royalty owners, surface owners and the local community that they are working with a respected operator that is highly experienced in the Basin. We value strongly our community, and believe that Extraction aligns with our ideals.”

 Extraction Chairman and CEO Mark Erickson said in the release that many of its employees live in Weld County, “and understand the importance of best-practice operations in their communities. … Both companies understand the nuances of urban operations, and we believe our past operations have helped establish our reputation in the Basin as preferred operators.”

Mineral Resources has been one of two companies drilling inside Greeley city limits in the last couple of years, but they’ve met with resistance from residents, who don’t want such an industrial process so close to neighborhoods and schools. Kristina Bain, secretary of Weld Air and Water, a resident group formed to protect the county’s air and water from oil and gas drilling, said she was a mineral leaseholder on some of Mineral Resources’ proposed wells, and didn’t feel representatives of the company cared enough about residential concerns. She said she thinks Mineral officials “flipped” the company for quick profits. “It just doesn’t sound like a good neighbor,” Bain said, noting strange past dealings with the company changing their lease terms, and methods they used to convince residents to sign off on their mineral rights. “I’m looking at their past behavior, and I don’t know if they care enough to sell to a better operator.” Bain said she knew nothing of Extraction, so she couldn’t comment about what Greeley could see under the new ownership. 

Frontier Parent Group members already have reached out to talk with Extraction officials to find better Greeley drilling locations that are currently suggested by Mineral Resources. Some have said privately they feel that Extraction’s presence will be better; others have privately worried the mix of outside players could spell trouble. Golding said she is hopeful the new blood will be good news. With Mineral Resources being local, she said some parents felt inhibited to speak openly about the drilling plans. “Some of the problems we’ve run into with Frontier Parents is they have personal relationships with Mineral ownership which prevented them from speaking out,” Golding said. “We’re hoping people will feel a little more free, and we’re kind a hoping it’s a new day, and new way of doing business and we’ll have a bit better communication.”

 The process of approval of wells at the Mineral Resources site near Frontier has started from scratch, Golding said. With Mineral’s plan to move the wells, they had to reapply to the state. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires companies to demonstrate they’ve tried all options on suitable locations of multi-well pads to comply with a portion of the law that says multi-well pads should be sited as far away as possible from homes and businesses.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


All parents and community members are invited to attend the public meeting regarding an Oil & Gas proposal for 19 Wells, 20 Tanks, 19 Separators and 2 Water Tanks to be located on the property located approximately 1,000 ft from the Frontier Elementary School Playground, and 581 ft from Walmart and in close proximity to neighboring businesses and housing.

5:00 p.m. at Frontier Academy Elementary School 
2560 W. 29th Street

The City staff will explain the review process, and the operator (Extraction Oil & Gas formerly Mineral Resources Inc.) will provide information about the development plan. Citizens may ask questions. If you need further information please email FPG - Frontier Parent Group at

Monday, August 4, 2014

Drilling in Towns is an Unacceptable Risk

Three very knowledgeable advocates have supported residents by coming to Greeley to address the City Council, and now the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as well to urge them to prohibit oil and gas drilling near homes and schools. Below you find their whole, or partial testimonies with a yellow link to the audio of their comments at the COGCC hearing on July 28th, 2014. 

Lauren Swain of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club had this to say:

"We are asking you to make a good faith effort to show other communities who are concerned about drilling and fracking in proximity to their homes and schools to deny the permit for drilling at Frontier Elementary. This is an unacceptable location. You're well aware of the hazards, of toxic emissions, spills, and explosions that have occurred at other sites. It is an unacceptable level of risk that you are imposing on this community, and other communities that are watching this statewide will look to Greeley to see what is coming their way, and if more and more of this happens they will want to stop oil and gas production in their communities, and I don't blame them; they should stop it. 

COGCC members

The oil and gas industry is exempt from seven major provisions of seven federal environmental laws that we depend on for our health and safety. They are exempt from major provisions in the clean air act, clean water act, safe drinking water act, hazardous waste management, super fund bill, nipa and the toxic registry for the community to know. The industry does not have to fully follow those laws.  
We do not have the benefit of EPA enforcement of those laws and the states level of enforcement has been deplorably low. We rely on industry self reporting. This is unacceptable... 
Anybody who stands up for our health and safety will be in trouble because of industry's political cloud, and ...YOU. So, I hope that you will change your policies and protect our communities. If you want oil and gas to be alive an thrive in Colorado you have to make it responsible and it's not responsible right now."

Wes Wilson formerly with the Environmental Protection Agency had this to say:

Wes Wilson

"I want to make a contrast between two risks. You saw Stuart Elsworth speaking eloquently about the commission's response to the earthquake. A 20 day shut in followed by the bottom of the whole thing being cemented to try to address that risk. 
In contrast, when Dr. Lisa McKenzie and Dr. John Agate published their peer reviewed study that the outcome of pregnancies in gas towns in Colorado was adversely affected. Specifically that there was a 30% increase in these in these births associated with women being in a community with gas wells...Now what was the state's CDPHE response against that? 
Was it equivalent to what had happened with the seismic event in Greeley? No! It was belittled, it was follow up!

Phil Doe environmental director of Be The Change had this to say: 

"I invite your attention to two recent symposiums; one the Colorado School of Health where a lot was said about health risk, particularly air from fracking. Its online. You should all look at it....
Hear recordings of speakers at the Symposium here

I want to turn to what you said about water use and deep well injection. That one well, injects and destroys enough water for a city's domestic needs of  3600 people annually. There are over 200 wells,  injection wells in this state, and the capacity is going up. How much of our groundwater, how much of our water ... are you contaminating, and how much are you destroying?.. 
The water in this state constitutionally belongs to us, it doesn’t belong to you, and it doesn’t belong to the gas and oil industry. You have no right to destroy it; we have not given you permission. 
Secondly, how much are you going to destroy if as the oil and gas industry predicts they are going to double the size of their operations by 2019. How much water is that going to take, and how much destruction are you going to do before we say cease. Consider the future.!”

Drilling Mud Used to Grow Crops!

“It’s really clay that is very rich in nutrients,” Korby Bracken (director of health, safety and environment for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in Denver) said. “And it’s very beneficial for farming.”

Anadarko makes some of that drilling mud available to farmers, but the company also has its own fields where the drilling mud is used to enrich the soil. Alfalfa or wheat is planted and grown. See: Energy Pipeline: Oil, gas industry rife with innovation

But, is it really beneficial, or safe? 

That argument reminds me of the aluminum industry getting rid of fluoride (a chemical on the Right To Know Hazardous Substance list) by selling it to municipalities to add it to the drinking water. Now, a Harvard study has found that fluoride does negatively affect intelligence in children.

The idea to dump mud laced with various chemicals and heavy metals on farmland to grow crops is preposterous to begin with, especially without proper oversight. Landowners are therefore advised, 
"to develop a formal contractual agreement with the company or individual responsible for disposal of the drilling fluid... 
The agreement should stipulate testing requirements for drilling fluids and native soils.. 
The costs of sample collections, analyses, soil amendments..can be included in the contractual agreement as the responsibility of the company or individual responsible for the disposal of the drilling fluids".
Landfarming or land application is a process whereby drilling fluids are spread on the land is often preferred to reduce costs of disposal. It may include petroleum hydrocarbons, salts and/or heavy metals.

  • Petroleum hydrocarbons including oil and grease can be toxic to plants in modest concentrations either due to direct contact or through adverse effects on soil properties. 
  • Salts in drilling fluids can affect both plants and the soil. Salts in drilling fluids can affect both plants and the soil. Another element, boron, can be toxic to some plants even at relatively low concentrations. 
  • Heavy metals are elements that may or may not be plant nutrients, but can be harmful to plant and/ or animal health in low to high concentrations depending on the element. Some heavy metals will cause plant death at high concentrations. Others can accumulate in plant tissue (without harm to the plant) to levels which are harmful or toxic to animals and/or humans. 

The heavy metals most commonly found in drilling fluids include arsenic, barium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel and zinc. The amounts present will depend on the formulation of the drilling fluid and the geologic formations encountered during the drilling process.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Commissioner Kirkmeyer: We Need More Injection Wells in Weld

During my own testimony to the COGCC I wondered where the woman on the commission was. "Where is your voice of reason? A woman on your commission, or several, might change this whole thing here." 

In retrospect I was naive to think that women commissioners would make much of a difference in permitting wells near homes and schools. There are many women in the oil and gas industry. Tischa Schuller is one. She is president of their trade group, COGA. She has no qualms about drilling inside city limits, nor does Barb Kirkmeyer, the one woman on our Weld County Commission, who hoped to become the next U.S. Representative for our area. 

In her campaign she claimed to be a "proud and consistent supporter of the Personhood movement, unambiguously defending life from conception." But, apparently she does not give the quality of life of children after they are born in an area inundated with oil and gas drilling much thought!

Barb Kirkmeyer and fellow Weld commissioners happily holding the big bucks check.

And Sarah McQuiddy, president of Greeley's Chamber of Commerce believes,
“It’s safe, affordable, reliable and clean, ...Weld County really is the epicenter for a new generation of energy development, as well as abundant benefits that bring the local community much support in an economic-development way.” 
Of course, she also praised our school district's strategic plan that eliminated play from kindergarten and subjected these kids to 90 minutes of mind numbing scripted literacy lessons each day!

But, I was especially taken aback by a mom with three young children going into Centennial Park Library where a friend was circulating the petition for initiative 88. I asked the woman if she wanted to sign the ballot initiative for greater setbacks from homes and schools and she said no.

"You think it is OK for children to be subjected to the hazards?" I asked and she said: "Yes, because my husband works in oil and gas." And so it is that there are also women without compassion or concerns for the well-being of children, even their own!

But to paint a picture of Weld commissioner Barb Kirkmeyer, below an account by Frontier Parent Trisha Golding who attended the lunch for the COGCC, catered by Dickey's barbecue pit.


First listen to this woman's testimony. She came all the way from Aurora to address the commission. The transcript of her comments are below, but you should really hear her speak! It's only 47 seconds.

"Five years ago Oklahoma had two earthquakes, last year they experienced a hundred, this year there were over two hundred. The petroleum institute in Oklahoma has no idea what might be causing these earthquakes. Not a clue! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that injecting millions of gallons of contaminated water into the earth is going to have a dire consequence, and now Greeley will be receiving Aurora's flowback water...To approve these exemptions would be foolhardy and would put more Greeley residents at risk, and I would suggest "Enough is enough!"

Enough is not enough for Barb Kirkmeyer. She wants more injection wells in Weld county! 

Here's what was discussed during the break.

"A few of us stayed for the lunch session. It was very interesting. The County Staff and COGCC Commissioners chatted for a long time about injection wells. Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer stated that Weld County needs more injection wells and COGCC is taking too long to complete the permitting process. 
COGCC stated there are 39 injection wells with permits in queue for the state, of those 20 are disposal class II injection wells...8 of those wells are in Weld County, 5 of the 8 have yet to be drilled and are waiting for EPA. The other 3 are in the drilling process. 
Kirkmeyer inquired if Weld County were to hire a person and lend him to the state to work on the injection well permits, would the state be able to expedite the backlog of permits at COGCC and start getting the permit time down? COGCC said they would be willing to look into this with Weld County. 
COGCC stated that Aurora is looking into bringing their wastewater to Weld also. Kirkmeyer stated again that more wells are needed. She said that overflow of wastewater is being trucked to WY and that it would be better to avoid them being on the roads. 
Another Weld County Commissioner asked (I’m sorry, I am unsure of who), if COGCC does permitting for storage of temporary waste. Lepore responded that he felt the city would be able to regulate that some. The weld county commission said that waste is being temporary stored in the easements of their well site in trucks and it seemed like there should be a violation assessed for unpermitted storage. 
He said operators are even storing the trucks of waste in other locations not suitable or permitted, but that it is less cost for them than setting up a commercial storage area. It was agreed that this was something to look further into and seek legal counsel."

The Rocky (Mountain) Horror Show Coming to a Home or School near You

Sara Barwinski shared this picture with me that her husband Dan took of the Northridge fracking operation 360 feet from their back yard. She reported that Synergy had completed the fracking process before schedule (it could have taken as long as 10-14 days)  "and all is quiet at last!"

She did an excellent job testifying before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Monday (July 28th), urging the commissioners to deny the placement of 19 wells near Frontier Academy. 

Listen to her testimony here.

If the link does not take you there, you can find it at 1:15:47 on the audio.

In an earlier email to me Sara wrote:
"I'm listening to the beep-beep-beeps as I type this in addition to the constant rumble and frequent banging. ..for me the worst is after dark--during the day you can't see the evidence of what they are spewing--but the first time I saw the cloud over the site at night with the lights illuminating it, I was stunned. I've seen it every night--but some nights are worse--I think it depends on where they are in the process (they are doing 4 wells one after another) and what the weather, wind, etc. conditions are as to how visible it is. Some of it might be steam, but you know it's got stuff in it."

I had tried to get a good photo and video myself, but it was too windy and the wind drowned out the noise from the site, which was audible to me but not always to the microphone on my camera.
Here are my captures. 

View from the Sheep Draw trail of the sound wall around the site.
You can see the fumes being blown away.

As I stood downwind in the parking lot of Northridge's stadium, about one tenth of a mile away, to capture the sound on video, I caught whiffs of petroleum fumes.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Truly Good Neighbors Look Out for Greeley's Liveable Future

Greeley Tribune guest column by Sara Barwinski:

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a good neighbor. The Tribune has suggested (“Compromise offers best bet on drilling”) that Mineral Resources has been “neighborly” when they submitted a new application to move their proposed 19 wells and 20 oil tanks a few hundred feet further away from the Frontier Elementary School playground.

Imagine 20 of these near the school! 
The editorial further suggested that Frontier parents were not being “neighborly” because they did not passively and gratefully accept this supposed solution. But Mineral Resources never bothered to first listen to the parent’s concerns when they moved forward with their plan to frack in the heart of Greeley-Evans. They never took the step to inform all parents and have a public forum to receive input and address issues. [remember too that the initial plan called for 67 wells with 32 oil tanks, and 30 separators!]

Instead, they tried to make the problem disappear and generate some positive “good neighbor” public-relations. I’m not sure that many people think that a neighbor who generates 24/7 noise, creates emissions, increases truck traffic, and stores flammable materials in tanks in the middle of a community is a good neighbor. No other industry is allowed to infringe on a community in this way. Special privileges were granted to the oil and gas industry in the days of vertical drilling in order to allow access to minerals.

However, with horizontal drilling, minerals can now be accessed from drill sites up to two miles away. Operators can choose locations that are truly “neighborly” and that are more appropriate for heavy industry. Yes, the wells would now be 1,000 feet from the playground — but the well blow-out in Windsor last year had an impact area of 1,500 feet and took 30 hours to contain. Is it any wonder parents aren’t satisfied?

In addition to the proximity issue, a problem with the intensity of the site remains. Twenty oil tanks? There have been a number of tank fires in the past four months — do we really think we should be making evacuation plans for kindergarteners? When I think of whom I want for a neighbor, I think of someone who looks out not just for themselves but also for their community.

I have heard the Frontier Parent Group voice concerns beyond protecting their kids. They objected to the operator’s decision to simply move the site back because they knew this meant pushing it closer to apartments and to about 500 feet from the Walmart where many people shop. I’ve heard them voice concerns about what the truck traffic will mean for this part of town, especially in light of recent accidents, spills and fatalities. I’ve heard them express concerns about Synergy’s plan to frack behind Centerplace, (behind Kohl’s and new restaurants), and what that means for this growing commercial area and the 1,500 residents of nearby homes and apartments — many of whom live less than 500 feet away.

 I’ve heard them express concern for friends, neighbors and family members who are torn about this issue because of economic considerations. I’ve heard some who have strong ties to oil and gas and fear speaking out, express gratitude to the courageous parents who do so without demonizing others. I’ve heard them express concern about the direction Greeley is headed, knowing some residents have given up and moved away. I‘ve seen them work to find a better way to have responsible oil and gas development and still maintain a livable, healthy community.

They should not be criticized for taking a positive stand for Greeley’s future — they are some of our finest neighbors.

Sara Barwinski is a retired social worker who lives less than 800 feet from the Northridge drill site in Greeley.

Note: Be sure to  Attend hearing: Support Children of Frontier Elementary.on Monday, July 28th.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Attend Hearing: Support Children of Frontier Elementary

Please attend and invite others to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee hearing on


Monday, July 28 at 9:00am

 Weld County Administration Building Events Center

 1150 “O” Street, Greeley, CO 80631 

Please arrive by 8:45am. Comments will be taken until 11:00am

This hearing is a rare opportunity for Front Range citizens to be heard directly by the COGCC.

It is critical for as many concerned citizens as possible to come tell the COGCC that school children should be protected from hazardous, polluting drilling operations near their schoolyards and homes.
They need to hear what you think of the job they are doing under their mandate to protect public health and safety.

This is your chance to tell them about how this scale of oil and gas development has impacted your, or your loved ones' life and be heard about concerns such as:

 1) Public health and safety concerns - drilling near homes and schools exposes the public to higher levels of benzene and other hazardous chemicals. Recent tank explosions should be reason enough to move these industrial facilities away from where people live!

 2) Pressure tactics put on mineral rights owners to lease their property against their will - Forced pooling allows operators to take away our right to choose whether or not our property should be developed for oil and gas. Oil and gas development hurts property values.

 3) The heavy concentration of wells and tanks they have approved next to homes, schools and commercial districts in Greeley and Weld County – large industrial sites do not belong in residentially-zoned land!

Comments should be short—three minutes or less.

 Please share this message and invite friends, neighbors or family to the hearing as well!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Damage Done by Fracking

“At health clinics, we’re seeing nearby residents experiencing nausea, headaches and other symptoms linked to fracking pollution,” said David Brown, a toxicologist who has reviewed health data from Pennsylvania. “With billions of gallons of toxic waste coming each year, we’re just seeing the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of health risks.” 

 The report measured key indicators of fracking threats across the country, including:

280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated in 2012—enough to flood all of Washington, DC, in a 22-foot deep toxic lagoon
450,000 tons of air pollution produced in one year
250 billion gallons of fresh water used since 2005
360,000 acres of land degraded since 2005
100 million metric tons of global warming pollution since 2005.

Fracking also inflicts other damage not quantified in the report—ranging from contamination of residential wells to ruined roads to earthquakes at disposal sites.

Reviewing the totality of this fracking damage, the report’s authors conclude:

Given the scale and severity of fracking’s myriad impacts, constructing a regulatory regime sufficient to protect the environment and public health from dirty drilling—much less enforcing such safeguards at more than 80,000 wells, plus processing and waste disposal sites across the country—seems implausible. 
In states where fracking is already underway, an immediate moratorium is in order. In all other states, banning fracking is the prudent and necessary course to protect the environment and public health.

Read more: Groundbreaking Report Calculates Damage Done by Fracking

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Governor Vows to Defeat Stricter Fracking Regulations

Have you seen the many pro fracking television ads? The Oil and Gas industry,  industry backed advocacy groups, and even our Greeley Tribune editors (read their editorial!), try to convince you that drilling for oil and gas near your house and/or your child's school is all safe, all good! According to Gov. Hickenlooper ballot initiatives 88 and 89 should be defeated because,

"..Colorado is already a leader, nationally and internationally to protect the environment, and promoting responsible energy development."

He went on to claim,

"We are proving that we can take full advantage of the innovations in oil and gas development while at the same time maintaining the highest ethical, safety, and environmental standards."
Ethical, safety and environmental standards? Take a look at what is jokingly called the measle map of our city. Each dot represents a well and more are slated to be drilled!

Governor: "Coloradoans for Responsible Energy Development, Protect Colorado, and Coloradoans for Responsible Reform are all organized to defeat these measures, and I am proud to stand with them before you all today...we want to make sure we get the information out there and really focus on making sure this doesn't get passed."

Note that CRED (Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development) is not a group set up by regular Colorado residents! On their website it states: 
"Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Noble Energy, two leaders in the Colorado oil and natural gas community, formed CRED to provide scientifically sound information about fracking. CRED is a 501(c) 6 non-profit organization .. 
Unlike a trade association, CRED doesn’t focus on policy, legislative or regulatory matters. CRED’s core mission is to deliver solid facts directly to the people who need it most: you." 

Yet,  they are not willing to do any scientific health studies to ease our concerns! Why not? And, if they don't "focus on policy, legislative or regulatory matters", why are they siding with the governor to defeat the initiatives??

Interesting too is to learn who is involved with Coloradans for Responsible Reform. On their website you find some familiar faces. Our supposedly 'pro' environment champion and former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, and Greeley's current Mayor Tom Norton. 

And then there is, another group with a name that sounds as if it has everyone's interests at heart, but is really only concerned with what's good for their industry's profit margin! Emphasis is mine.

"Unnecessary ballot initiatives supported by extreme groups are a blatant attempt to eliminate oil and gas production in Colorado. Not only do these ballot initiatives give the government the power to dictate what homeowners can and cannot do with their own property, they would also devastate Colorado's environment, economy, and energy independence".

Isn't the enormous scale of drilling and fracking everywhere around us, near and far devastating the environment we all share? And why is it extreme to worry about the polluted air that our children and grandchildren inhale? Why is an attempt to restrict drilling near homes and schools blatant? And who is dictating to residents, who have nothing to gain from drilling, now? Note that many homeowners, especially those in newer subdivisions, do not own the mineral rights below their land; the developer does. He or she gets to reap the benefits of royalties, but the homeowners are left with the fumes and hazards!

Protect Colorado concludes with this statement. 

"We oppose any extreme ballot measures that threaten the existing laws designed to protect Coloradans’ health and safety or that harm our state’s economy, environment, and energy independence.
With drilling near homes and schools the health and safety of Coloradans is not protected, and the environment is harmed!

But, back to Hickenlooper's recent press conference

Reporter: "You said you are going to do whatever it takes to defeat initiatives."

Governor: "Well it was a figure of speech....[outburst of laughter from those standing with him] We are going to make sure to get the information out".

He means information about job, and revenue loss, but omitting information of hazards, and the health impacts on anyone in close proximity to these wells, including the oilfield workers. My brother-in-law who worked for decades checking gas wells is now suddenly suffering from asthma, and nearly died during his very first attack!

Governor: "..If you impose a 2000 ft setback on the state of Colorado,..not only the oil and gas industry, but we're talking about almost any industry in the state, would suffer negative consequences."

Really? Which other heavy, highly dangerous, and toxic industry is allowed to set up shop inside city limits? I cannot think of any. Besides, Initiative 88 spells out Oil and Gas specifically. Not only that, but if you own the land you can waive the requirement. Better would have been "If you own, AND live on, the land". 
 Initiative 88: 2,000-foot Oil and Gas setback requirement  
"Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a statewide setback requirement for new oil and gas wells, and, in connection therewith, changing existing setback requirements to require any new oil or gas well to be located at least 2,000 feet from the nearest occupied structure; and authorizing a landowner to waive the setback requirement for any structure located on the owner's property?" 

In stating that he will do anything to defeat the initiatives the governor is not acting very statesman like. In effect he is flipping the bird to all who have concerns about health impacts on their communities, and on the vulnerable young children living in an oil and gas town. As it stands we all are breathing various petroleum fumes from these installations, and we are subjected more and more to days on which we inhale harmful ozone! Orange day? Do not let your kids be active outside. Red day? You better keep your child inside!

"On November 20, 2007, the Denver-metropolitan and Northern Front Range areas (including portions of Weld County) were designated as “nonattainment” with the 8-hour federal ozone standard (meaning these areas exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone)"  ~  See the ozone nonattainment map for our area hereSign up for ozone alerts at 
Initiative 89: Local Government Regulation of Environment
"Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a public right to Colorado's environment, and, in connection therewith, declaring that Colorado's environment is the common property of all Coloradans; specifying that the environment includes clean air, pure water, and natural and scenic values and that state and local governments are trustees of this resource; requiring state and local governments to conserve the environment; and declaring that if state or local laws conflict the more restrictive law or regulation governs?" 

If you want to sign the petitions to get these initiatives on the November ballot, please stop by at Centennial Park Library this coming week in the morning hours as some people will be there waiting for you to give you that chance! 

Want to help and take action? See Safe, Clean, Colorado

If you want to leave a comment with the COGCC to oppose drilling at Frontier Elementary school, click here: South Greeley Directional File # 400604803 to access it. After a few seconds you will be redirected to the correct page, then click on comment on the right, and then on New Comment to add your own. Be sure to copy the code that appears!

Tribune to Parents: Stop Fighting Mineral Resources

As if having a governor who does not care about health impacts to our children isn't bad enough, and threatens to do anything to defeat ballot Initiatives 88 and 89, our Greeley Tribune editors add insult to injury! One person I shared the editorial with, responded:

"Sad! Very sad for the editorial board to proclaim you must reciprocate. Tell the Tribune editorial board this is known as the Stockholm syndrome. Being cordial to one's captors... We get the point this is not as bad as it was, but it's still unacceptable to be captured by this industrial giant far too close to our schools. We support initiative #88 to make future wells at least farther away."

Of course, all this push back; the pro fracking television ads from the industry, the threats from the governor, and also this Tribune editorial mean only one thing. Those who favor jobs over the health and well-being of residents and children, are clearly concerned that the majority of people in Colorado are prepared to get these initiatives on the ballot and will also vote in favor of them. As you read the editorial, keep in mind what San Juan residents found in air samples they took themselves, after becoming ill and they could not convince government agencies to respond to their concerns. Find their full report here.

Here's the Tribune's editorial of July 18, 2014

Frontier parents must reciprocate neighborly gesture

 from Mineral Resources 

Sometimes knowing when not to fight is as important as deciding to passionately take up a cause. That’s true for the group of Frontier Academy parents who are continuing their efforts to block a drilling project near the school. In April, the group of parents and like-minded supporters fought against a plan to place 19 wells, 19 separators and 24 tanks on a well pad about 500 feet from Frontier’s playground property line and 800 feet from the school building at 2560 29th St.

In face of the opposition, the energy company, Greeley-based Mineral Resources, halted its plans for the development, and vowed to work to find a new solution. While it is true that Mineral Resources could have sought that solution before the plans became controversial, it’s also true that the company had every legal right to go ahead with the original plan, which had already been given approval by state regulators under older, less stringent setback rules.

The new application is for 19 wells and 20 tanks 1,512 feet away from the school and more than 1,000 feet away from the playground. The application, which was filed in June, has a target date for approval and permitting by the state of Sept. 1. It is in the public feedback phase. All comments must be received by the COGCC by July 28 to be considered.

 We were sympathetic to the concerns raised by the group of Frontier Parents in April. The project struck us as too close for comfort, and we were glad to see Mineral Resources seek an alternative drilling site. Now, Mineral Resources has, at its own expense, moved the drilling site to a distance from the school that exceeds the state’s new tougher requirements. We think that makes a decisive difference. So do regulators, which is why they set the standard — the toughest in the nation — at 1,000 feet.

We don’t blame parents at Frontier for worrying about their children’s safety. But no amount of distance will provide absolute security, and we must work with energy companies, especially when they’ve shown a willingness to be good neighbors. If we don’t, we only remove the incentive for the companies to take such measures. If we’re not willing to be good neighbors, too, the only incentive we leave for the drillers is to press for every advantage the law allows, regardless of local concerns. That’s not good for anyone.

 — The Tribune Editorial Board

If you want to leave a comment with the COGCC to oppose drilling at the school, click here: South Greeley Directional File # 400604803 to access it. After a few seconds you will be redirected to the correct page, then click on comment on the right, and then on New Comment to add your own. Be sure to copy the code that appears!

If you want to sign the petitions to get initiatives 88 and 89 on the November ballot, please stop by at Centennial Park Library this coming week in the morning hours as some people will be there waiting for you to give you that chance! Read here what they entail.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Parents Ask Community for Input Against Drilling Near School

A message from the Frontier Parent Group. Receive  their Instruction Letter Action Alert with more information by emailing: 

Please help us to protect our school and our community...

Our children deserve a safe, healthy, noise and pollutant free

 environment to study and learn!

"The new Mineral Resources proposal [to drill near Frontier Academy] is for 19 wells, 20 tanks and 19 separators. Plans show the site to be 1,512 ft from the school building and a little over 1,000 ft from the playground. On 6/16/14 Mineral Resources filed a location assessment permit (form 2a) with the COGCC – Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. This file is being reviewed by COGCC and is currently open for public comment.

We are asking parents, concerned community members, grandparents, local business owners, people who shop at local businesses (the proposed well site is 586 ft away from Walmart), anyone concerned, to VOICE their CONCERNS to COGCC via their online comment form.

The only way we will be able to be effective is if people show their involvement and worries for this location. Please, if you have any concerns with this location, now is the time to voice it! Your comment will become part of the public record of the application. Your name and e-mail address, if entered, will not be visible to other public users.

The deadline for comment is July 28.

Click on South Greeley Directional File # 400604803 to access it. After a few seconds you will be redirected to the correct page, then click on comment on the right, and then New Comment to add your own.

On 7/1/14 Mineral Resources filed for the USR (Use by Special Review) with the City of Greeley. The file is under review and a hearing date will be determined.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Residents Offered $50,000 to Release Company of Liability

From Aggressive Tactic on the Fracking Front

It didn't take long for the residents of Finleyville who lived near the fracking operations to complain – about the noise and air quality, and what they regarded as threats to their health and quality of life. Initially, EQT, one of the largest producers of natural gas in Pennsylvania, tried to allay concerns with promises of noise studies and offers of vouchers so residents could stay in hotels to avoid the noise and fumes.

But then, in what experts say was a rare tactic, the company got more aggressive: it offered all of the households along Cardox Road $50,000 in cash if they would agree to release the company from any legal liability, for current operations as well as those to be carried out in the future. It covered potential health problems and property damage, and gave the company blanket protection from any kind of claim over noise, dust, light, smoke, odors, fumes, soot, air pollution or vibrations. is unlikely that companies will start handing out such agreements en masse, [as]..doing so could decrease landowners' confidence about the safety of the company's operations and their personal health. "People are going to say the gas companies must be concerned about air pollution because they're offering these easements," said Clark. "Everybody's going to get suspicious."

Earlier this year, a couple in Texas was awarded $3 million in a lawsuit against a gas drilling company. The couple alleged that the company's operations had affected their health, decreased their property value and forced them to move away. The case was one of the first successful lawsuits alleging that air pollution from gas drilling activity caused health issues.

..some of the residents have refused to negotiate with the company. "I was insulted," said Gary Baumgardner, who was approached by EQT with the offer in January. "We're being pushed out of our home and they want to insult us with this offer." Baumgardner says his house is like an amphitheater, constantly vibrating from the drilling. At times the noise gets up to 75 decibels, equivalent to a running vacuum cleaner, he said.

Earlier this year, EQT Corp. put up a sound barrier to limit the noise, but Baumgardner says it has made little difference to his quality of life. "We took the pictures down in the bedroom because they still vibrate at night," he said. Baumgardner says he has had to leave his house at least three times so far because the gas fumes from the well site were too much to bear. A local health group has installed air quality monitors in his home and several of his neighbors.

Last year when the one of the monitors began flashing red, his daughter, pregnant at the time, fled the house. She has since moved away after her doctor advised her not to live close to a drilling site. "Our house is most often not livable," said Baumgardner. EQT's response to his complaints, he said, has been "constant dismissals, excuses, delays and broken promises."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fracking Chemicals Disrupt Hormones

June 23, 2014  :"We don't know what the adverse health consequences might be in humans and animals exposed to these chemicals," Kassotis said, "but infants and children would be most vulnerable because they are smaller, and infants lack the ability to break down these chemicals." 

Many chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can disrupt not only the human body's reproductive hormones but also the glucocorticoid and thyroid hormone receptors, which are necessary to maintain good health, a new study finds.

... "Among the chemicals that the fracking industry has reported using most often, all 24 that we have tested block the activity of one or more important hormone receptors," said the study's presenting author, Christopher Kassotis, a PhD student at the University of Missouri, Columbia. "The high levels of hormone disruption by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that we measured, have been associated with many poor health outcomes, such as infertility, cancer and birth defects."

The results were presented Monday at the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society: ICE/ENDO 2014 in Chicago.

 Source: Hormone-disrupting activity of fracking chemicals worse than initially found

See some of the chemicals used on the Haliburton site: Colorado: What's In The Fluids?

Note that each fracturing job uses several million gallons of water! So, that 'measly' 0.5% of actual frack fluid additives still contains thousands of gallons of chemicals!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Smelling Fumes Makes Me Fume!

My grandson's back yard, 1/4 mile from a gas well

I was appalled and quite concerned a week ago when I caught whiffs of petroleum on the breeze that came in my son's open windows in south west Greeley. I smelled it too in his back yard when we stood by my grandson's swing set! They live just 1/4 mile away from one of Noble Energy's big well pads that has a gigantic flare stack which burns off the so-called 'sour'gas, a euphemism for the dangerous Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) which can be lethal. It was quite breezy that early evening so it's all the more surprising that the fumes were even noticeable!

  • "..Many of the substances emitted by flaring, incineration and venting can affect humans, animals, plants and the environment. Effects depend on the magnitude, duration and frequency of exposure, as well as the susceptibility of the individual organism or environment"
  •  "..there is no question that high enough concentrations of petroleum-related emissions could affect the respiratory health, vision and skin of humans and animals. Exposure to some VOC and PAH substances increases the likelihood of cancers." ~ Source: Flaring Questions and Answers

The giant flare stack

Whose brilliant idea was it to put picnic tables near the site?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Did You Feel the Earthquake?

It did not just rattle my house, but my nerves too! When my family lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, we experienced a couple of very noticeable earthquakes that originated in California. One was so strong and long that we woke up the kids and told them to get under the dining room table. Even so, that quake was not nearly as shocking as the one I experienced here in Greeley on May 31st; probably because I did not expect it to happen here! 

When my brain accepted the possibility of a quake, and I saw all my neighbors in the street, I remarked for all to hear, "Probably due to all the fracking!" I certainly hope I am wrong, but learning the following, it seems very likely that there is a connection! 

  •  "..Quake trackers have long noted that injection wells generate temblors. There are more than 150,000 injection wells that hold hundreds of billions of fracking wastewater in the United States. The location of the wells in states like Texas and Oklahoma and Ohio correspond to earthquake activity. The Tribune reported on Sunday that the epicenter of the Greeley quake is located a mile and a half from “two oil and gas wastewater injection wells that have not been inspected by the state since August 2012.” The Tribune reported that the wells are operated by Denver-based High Sierra Water Services." ~ Greeley quake adds ammunition to Colorado fracking war