Friday, May 18, 2018


May 12, 2018 | 
Dr. David Nolan, a member of the Broomfield community, speaks up about the lack of attention given to valuable research on the dangers of residential fracking, and warns about the potential future danger this ignorance poses.
My name is Dr. David Nolan, a gastroenterologist working with Colorado Permanente Physician’s Group (CPMG) and Kaiser Permanente. I completed medical school at Chicago Medical School and post-graduate training at the University of California, Irvine in Internal Medicine. After completing a year as chief resident, I went on to complete a fellowship in Gastroenterology before moving to Colorado to start a life here. I have been a resident of Broomfield for the past 4 years, and I love my neighborhood and the people who live here.
I became aware of the issues with residential fracking about 2 years ago after receiving a letter ‘notifying’ me that my mineral rights were being sold. One of the nurses who works with me who is very involved in this community introduced me to the works of the CDPHE and COGCC (acronyms that were completely foreign to me at the time). Since then, I have become very familiar with the literature associated with fracking, and more so the risks therein. As such, I have been extremely disappointed in the physician involvement and leadership of these organizations and feel that the data has been completely misrepresented as safe. On reading the summary statement from the COGCC as well as the articles cited within, I realized quickly that the process of fracking was not safe, and the very best that could be said was that it did not have enough data to conclude that it was harmful.
Since then, there have been several high-impact articles published from powerhouse academic institutions. All of these articles have been well written and peer reviewed, and unfortunately all show significant medical risk. The most confounding of which are those demonstrating an up to 4 fold increased risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia in people living within 1000 ft of oil and gas operations. More recently this has been backed up by a study from the University of Colorado showing an 8 fold increased lifetime risk of cancer in those closest to oil and gas operations (within 500 ft – the proposed distance set forth by our COGCC). These are obviously the most concerning articles since they deal with life-threatening cancers, but there are also very well written and well powered retrospective studies demonstrating increased risk for low birth weight infants, asthma exacerbations as well as nose bleeds, psychiatric and gastrointestinal illnesses.
The quality of this data is not in question. The value of retrospective studies is in identifying environmental risk factors to raise concern and promote further research. In this situation, the mere idea of conducting randomized trials on unsuspecting people living within range of these operations would be unethical and completely inappropriate (imagine knowingly subjecting a pregnant mother to volatile organic chemicals known to cause cancer). As such, the data is already sound and without a doubt demonstrates risk. This fact has been ignored by the COGCC and dismissed by its physician leadership without any substantial/independent peer reviewed studies to the contrary. For those familiar with medical research, this practice is barbaric. A pharmaceutical company proceeding with a drug with the same level of harmful data would be shut down and taken off the market. Even if significant benefit was found from such a drug, it would require significant INFORMED consent – an ideal that the oil and gas industry has not been held.
My greatest fear is that the harms of fracking are going to be dismissed until people start dying. Much like the tobacco industry in the 60s and 70s, this data is being ignored by a giant industry unwilling to put forth the effort to commit to public safety and continue to put profits above our health. We need to continue to push to BAN residential fracking. There is no safe distance within our neighborhoods. Even 2500 ft puts those at harm within the highest risk (less than 1km which is approximately 3500 ft) of respiratory illness, cancer, birth defects and ultimately death.

Courtesy of our Broomfield neighbors.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Greeley School Board Uses Kid Gloves for Extraction OIl

Just watch for ten minutes to see how the Greeley District Six Board of Education plays nice with Extraction Oil regarding the proposed (and now approved) 24 wells near one of their elementary schools, Bella Romero. Their letter expresses hope that the project is delayed so a traffic study could be done first, but Vice President Steve Hall wanted to scratch that one. And, board member John Haefeli wanted to add some niceties/appreciation to the letter that requested that the Weld County Commissioners ask Extraction Oil for a mitigation, namely of putting a sidewalk in along Cherry Avenue where most of the fracking traffic would pass. 

Of course, we now know it will not happen. According to the article in the Greeley Tribune, Weld County Commissioner Barb Kirkmeyer "said she wouldn't consider it". Click here to jump to the pertinent part in the video. Here is the whole video in case you can stand listening to it all.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

24 Gas Wells Unanimously Approved Near Bella Elementary

Below is the full text of the Greeley Tribune article, with interesting parts emphasized in red and my comments added in orange.

County commissioners approve Extraction Oil and Gas project near Bella Romero Academy

Sidewalk or no sidewalk? Bella Romero Academy’s lack of sidewalks have been a hot-button issue for years. When the school went up in 2003, the city of Greeley, Greeley-Evans School District 6 and Weld County officials all took notice. Each agency believed another one was responsible for building a sidewalk. The school is just outside Greeley city limits. During a meeting last week, school board officials decided to ask the commissioners to require Extraction Oil and Gas to build a sidewalk while building a nearby oil and gas project. That didn’t go through. One county commissioner said she wouldn’t consider it. Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer reminded residents that Weld County attempted to seek a federal grant to build the sidewalk, but no one would pitch in for the funding match. “We were told ‘no’ by the city of Greeley and ‘no’ by the school district,” she sad. “I think they chose to neglect and do nothing for their students.” [What about all that oil revenue for the county and the city? Can some of that not be used to make a sidewalk? What about the oil companies' PR slogan that they want to be a good neighbor? Why would they not volunteer paying for the sidewalk?]

Residents trickled out of the hearing room rolling their eyes and shaking their heads in disappointment as Weld County leaders loudly lauded the oil and gas industry Wednesday. “We don’t have a democracy,” Greeley resident Maydean Worley told the board before she walked out of the ongoing meeting that drew about 100 residents to discuss a planned 24-well oil and gas structure that Extraction Oil and Gas had proposed in east Greeley. Commissioners thanked the industry for lifting its residents out of poverty and providing a brighter economic future for its workers.

Everyone was gathered at the Weld County administration building, 1150 O St., for a hearing on another contested urban oil and gas project. Extraction officials sought a special use permit that would allow the company to build a 24-well pad east of Greeley, near Bella Romero Academy 4-8 Campus, 1400 E. 20th St.  The commissioners unanimously approved it. Extraction will build up to 24 wells on the northeast corner of Cherry Avenue and 24th Street. Because of its access to both oil and natural gas pipeline, electricity and air quality technology, it will be one of the safest sites in the country, said Blane Thingelstad, a petroleum engineer for the company.

Before the public comment session began, Chairman Mike Freeman urged speakers to stay on task, focusing on this specific project. Often, even during this meeting, speakers on both sides got caught up in general energy policy arguments. This is a land use hearing, so instead of enacting new laws, all commissioners do is decide whether the project is appropriate for the area. Nearby resident Barbara Flores pointed to her house on a projected map, showing how close it is to the project site. “I am definitely affected by this monstrosity,” she said.

Residents lamented the project for a multitude of reasons: health risks, especially for nearby school children, pollution and truck traffic. “As a teacher, this bothers me,” said Therese Gilbert, who teaches at Heath Middle School, 2223 16th St. in Greeley. Children’s bodies are still developing, and that makes their lungs and other organs more sensitive to pollution, she said. There are already eight wells in the area, and the project would only bring more. “This would make it 32 within 1,500 feet,” she said. “That is not OK to have that close to kids.”

 Anne Curry-Sanchez, another Greeley resident, pointed out that although the school building is 1,300 feet from the well site, a playground is only about 500 feet away. The state in recent years bolstered its setback requirements, requiring oil and gas activity to be no closer to high-occupancy structures than 1,000 feet; oil and gas structures must be 500 feet away from low-occupancy structures, such as homes.

Wendy Highby is a co-founder of Weld Air and Water, an anti-oil and gas advocacy group for the county. She said weather will affect the levels of pollution near the school, and some days will be worse than others. “Like we have snow days, we would (need to) have high pollution days,” she said. “We are ignoring the public health risks.” It’s tough to pollute areas around here because of the state’s strict environmental regulations, Thingelstad said. “Colorado has some of the best air quality standards in the nation,” he said. 

[I guess Thinglestad is not aware that elevated ozone levels are now the norm here? Access the information at the website of the Colorado Department for Public Health & Environment.It even has this real-time ozone monitoring map

Most residents raised another concern about the location: the streets. They’re worried about having heavy-duty trucks on the roads in the area during constructions and drilling. Not only do they lack sidewalks for Bella Romero students, they’re in bad shape. Alan Herman, who said he worked for the city of Evans in the streets department, lives in the neighborhood. “That road’s not anywhere close to any road standards,” he said. Cars almost have to drive off the pavement to make way for oncoming traffic in some areas.

 Thinglestad touted many of the site’s features he said go above and beyond those regulations: advanced technology that catches any escaping vapors, cell phone apps that let rig operators know in real time if there’s a problem, thicker sound walls and electric access, which cuts the need for loud, diesel-running drilling rigs. “Noise, emissions, diesel traffic … has been mitigated here,” he said. 

Worley was one of the residents who veered into overarching energy policy. “Everyone in Weld County has these chemicals in their body,” she told the board. She called it a case of social and environmental injustice. After many residents showed their anger and disappointment with the board — some with facial expressions, some with snarky remarks — after the public hearing session, the commissioners went off task, as well.

Commissioner Julie Cozad talked about the perceived battle between protection of nature and oil and gas projects. “My degree is in biology and chemistry,” she said. “I study these issues. I think there is a way for industry to coexist.” Many commissioners responded to accusations such as, “You wouldn’t want this in your community.” Three of the five commissioners said they do have oil and gas in their communities. “There’s been no less than 10 rigs in my area,” Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer said.

You can contact the commissioners here: Meet the Commissioners

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Over 600 Spills in Colorado in 2015

DENVER—Oil and gas companies in Colorado were responsible for 615 oil and other chemical spills in 2015, according to the Colorado Toxic Release Tracker released today by the Center for Western Priorities. The new analysis, which summarizes public spills data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, finds that 90 spills—or 15 percent of all spills—resulted in water contamination.

According to publicly available data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission , there were 615 spills in 2015, meaning that nearly two spills occurred every day in the state.

“This is another stark reminder of the risks associated with oil and gas development,” said Greg Zimmerman, deputy director at the Center for Western Priorities. “Even in the face of falling oil prices and virtually no interest in new drilling, companies still managed to spill oil and other chemicals onto Colorado’s land and water nearly two times every day last year.”

The 2015 Toxic Release Tracker finds that produced water was the most common type of spill—companies reported 271 releases of produced water—followed by oil spills, which occurred at least 110 times in 2015. Of those, 51 spills released at least 5 barrels, or 210 gallons, of oil. During 2015, 61 spills occurred within the 500-foot setback of a building.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

In Greeley Protest is Futile!

What is so surprising about city councils, or boards of education for that matter, bowing down to corporations and lawyers, and ignoring the wishes of its residents? The Greeley City Council is once again showing that, no matter how many people protest oil and gas pads near their homes, it is futile. Still, the more elected officials get confronted with concerns and protests, the harder it will prove for their conscience to ignore those, that is...if they have a conscience. Thankfully two city council members have, and they voted to uphold the planning commission's decision!

But, where is the concern by the others for the well-being of children who have to live within close proximity of an industrial site that spews VOC's? Yes, I mention children as they are the ones so easily ignored and overlooked in all matters of policy making. 

As long as we disregard the well-being of the children in our society, we shouldn't be surprised that we end up with a large number of people in governing positions who  have no compassion and/or integrity to do what is right for people and the environment. 

Is it not a farce, let alone a blatant lie, when we read this on the city's website?

Following are excerpts and photos that were published in the
Greeley Tribune

After six hours of testimony on Tuesday, the Greeley Council overturned its planning commission, allowing a 22-well oil and gas facility in west Greeley — a move that aligned with the city’s own development code rather than public sentiment.

Hundreds of people turned out for the hearing, an appeal by Denver-based Extraction Oil and Gas, of the Greeley Planning Commission’s January decision to deny its project, 6-0. The hearing filled the hearing room at the Greeley-Evans School District 6 administration building, as well as its lobby, where almost 300 chairs were brought in to accommodate the crowds, filled with neighbors against the project and hundreds of oil and gas workers wearing stickers that read, “Oil and gas feeds my family and yours!”

Read the whole Tribune article here: Greeley City Council overturns Planning Commission denial of Triple Creek project.

The Greeley-Evans School District 6 administration building.

Mayor Tom Norton holds up more than 1,000 pages of letters
 for and against the Triple Creek project.

Oil and gas industry workers had come from outside of Greeley
 and wore stickers in support of their jobs.

But, does Oil & Gas not also pollute and poison?

Mayor Norton: I sympathize with the neighbors and sympathize with comments, but I think beyond that we have to protect private property rights of the many citizens of Greeley who have mineral rights and have a right to access them.

Sandi Elder: I’ve had experience with wells in my backyard and have no problems, and my neighbors and I asked for no mitigations. They offered to put up bushes and trees, but we wanted to see mountains and still do.

Mike Finn: ..what I would worry about us voting against this .You’re just opening up a lawsuit. If I were sitting as a judge, it’s so clear they have a right for this. It blows me away that people don’t see it.

Rochelle Galindo: We appoint a planning commission for a reason and I have every right to trust in their decision and the information presented to them. As far as what was presented tonight, I find it really hard to support his particular development, mostly because it does have a huge impact on traffic flow in that area.
Also the raptor breeding season will definitely prolong the project for several months. For those reasons, I’m going to vote to uphold decision.

Randy Sleight: This has been one of the toughest things I’ve had to grapple with and deal with...I’m a firm supporter of oil and gas development, I work in the industry. I deal with compounds, facilities like this on a daily basis. So in this area, I don’t happen to believe this facility is suitable for the area. It is too intense, too large, there’s too much going on. Too much storage. That’s the emotional side.

On the practical and legal side, the applicant has in fact followed everything they’ve been asked to do. Unemotionally, this is a use by special review issue. I don’t consider it too much of a mineral rights owner issue. If extraction was not going to do what they’re doing, what would they do about their mineral rights? So that’s a moot point. [emphasis mine]

What matters is the fact that the state compels us to apply certain standards to oil and gas development within any zoning area. ... Legally, as a council ... we have the obligation to go ahead and overturn what the planning commission did. That’s not to say they were wrong, but when take emotion out of it and you look at the facts and evidence, the applicant has done everything they’ve been required to do. I’m going to have to support overturning of the decision.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why Even Let Citizens Speak?

It is so sad that it all falls on, clearly willfully, deaf ears! I would hope that a thousand Debra Figueroas, and other concerned and impassioned residents, could make a difference in the decision making process regarding fracking, but I think the game is rigged (pun intended) against the common people. But, at least none of the commissioners can wash their hands in innocence, although they'd like to!

They can not say, like many German people in WWII did, when questioned about the concentration camps, "Wir haben es nicht gewusst", which means "We didn't know". Well, many surely had an uneasy feeling about it, but willfully pushed that thought away, willfully chose to stay ignorant, but that did not change the reality and the facts. Nor can the commissioners (and all others who ignore concerns and pleas of the people they are supposed to serve) claim they didn't know of the dangers and health risks of fracking! They have been informed over and over again, but it falls on willfully deaf ears! 

 I commend all the residents who go to these meetings to speak out, even if it has no immediate effect. All they will ever hear is an insincere "Thank you very much", and then get to witness the authoritarian, unanimous vote against what they seek. There's nothing democratic about unanimity

But, the more elected officials get confronted with concerns, the harder it will prove for their conscience to ignore those, that is...if they have a conscience. After all, is it not unconscionable to allow oil and gas pads near home and schools?


Watch Debra Figueroa address Adams County commissioners about a fracking moratorium:

Click on the video below and go to 5:41:30

"Your real investment are your children. If you do not have an educated, healthy society, you can't have the other things. So you can't have economic development if your people are sick and stupid."

"I have been listening to it all, but it is greed what I hear. We talk about, "Let's demand real science! Where is it? We have it, but you don't want to listen to it!"

Hear Phil Doe speak at 5:52:00

"If you look at the bill of rights, it says all government is derived from the people, is instituted wholly for the good of all."

Sadly, the reality is this, and it plays out over and over again to the frustration of all who come before boards or councils to 'petition', or share their grievances.

“[N]othing in the First Amendment or in this Court’s case law interpreting it suggests that the rights to speak, associate, and petition require government policymakers to listen or respond to individuals’ communications on public issues."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Planning Commission rejects oil wells in west Greeley!

Tribune opinion: 
Denying project in west Greeley smacks of favoritism

The Triple Creek Directional project was the first multi-well oil and gas project denied by the Greeley Planning Commission in recent memory. We have no idea why. What was it about this project that made it so offensive to those on the planning commission? Well, we have a pretty good idea, and it’s an idea that leaves us disturbed.

But let’s take another look at the project first. The facility would be on a 69-acre piece of property surrounded by nine existing well sites. The setbacks would be 1,000 feet, twice the minimum distance required by the state. The company planned to use electric drilling rigs, which eliminate the loud noises that come from the diesel engines of other drilling rigs. The company hoped to put up berms and a sound wall while the wells were drilled and employ a new tool that would help suck up emissions.

We see nothing wrong with the project there. Maybe it’s the fact the project would be near a residential neighborhood. 

Oil and gas facilities have no place near residences, right? Well, actually, in 2013, the commission approved up to 18 wells and 20 tanks near Northridge High School. Another one features 40 wells near 35th Avenue and 4th Street, a location in the heart of residential neighborhoods. In 2014, the commission approved 58 wells on an existing pad near U.S. 85 and U.S. 34, even with neighbors complaining about the pad being too close to a new school and a new subdivision.

 OK, so maybe it’s that this is a new thing to Greeley, and we just haven’t grown used to seeing oil and gas wells. We hope you’re laughing at that last argument. Yes, Greeley is an oil and gas town, just like the county where it sits.

There are around 450 wells throughout Greeley. That’s why we have such a problem with the planning commission rejecting this site. 

Extraction Oil and Gas went well beyond what we’d call reasonable measures to appease the residents who were understandably concerned about their homes. And yet the commission rejected it anyway. Why?

 Well, we can’t find a reason, save for two speculations that leave us troubled. The first is the fact

100 people showed up to squawk about it

and the second is the fact this facility is in an area full of middle-to-upper-class homes. It’s a much nicer area, or at least a richer one, than the site off 11th Avenue near Island Grove Regional Park, where 22 wells were approved in 2011, or the 58 wells near U.S. 85 and U.S. 34. Check out the comments of Planning Commissioner Eddie Mirick, who seems to be making our argument for us, even while he rejected the site.

 “It would be very detrimental to the community in and around the area, who have lived there a long time, enjoy their homes and environment, and contribute greatly to the city and have for years in many ways.” 

 So these people apparently don’t deserve to have wells near their homes because they contribute greatly to the city. So apparently people who contribute greatly to the city, financially or otherwise, should get more of a say about what goes near their homes.

We disagree. Greeley is an oil and gas town. We’ve enjoyed millions in tax dollars from the boom. There’s already several precedents. Therefore, if a company turns in a good proposal for oil wells, one that goes well beyond the state’s requirements to make life easier on the residents,

the commission should approve it, regardless of the influential people who live nearby. 

Otherwise we’re inconsistent, and that’s dangerous.

Inconsistencies encourage homeowners to file lawsuits and inspire hard feelings, and they tend to hurt people with lower incomes the most, because they don’t have the financial resources or the back-slapping connections to shoo away things they don’t want near their home.

The planning commissioners seem to be playing favorites here. We almost hope Extraction will appeal the decision to the Greeley City Council, where the constant threat of being voted out of office helps keep them focused on the whole city, not just those who want special treatment.

 — The Tribune Editorial Board