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.