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The Honeymoon is over for Frackers and Protestors

topher, 2012-12-10

Hey Frackers and Anti-Frackers, the honeymoon is over! Both sides of the fracking debate have taken hardline stances, with the oil and gas companies lobbying for development in as many locations as possible with the least amount of regulation, and the Anti-Frackers say fracking should be banned outright. Neither approach is a recipe for progress or good decision-making.

The harsh truth is that fracking is not going away and that oil and gas companies, as well as the governments that manage the resources, need to proceed with extreme caution realizing that we are playing with fire. We don't need a war over energy right here in Colorado; we need residential and utility scale energy solutions.

Colorado citizens are upset, and for good reason. Just yesterday it was reported in the Denver Post that hundreds of fracking-related "spill and leaks", mostly less than 30 feet underground, have reached groundwater over the last 5 years in Colorado, while the proponents of fracking are telling us that fracking occurs too deep in the aquifer to ever reach ground water. And these are just the spills that were reported...

To make matter worse, the Colorado State Government has been essentially a tool to help oil and gas companies to proceed with little regulation. The result is that controversial fracking sites, like the one next to two Erie elementary schools have proceeded despite public protest. This kind of irresponsible fracking, supported by our own government, has people justifiably angry.

Last week, two areas in Colorado - Boulder, the progressive University town, and the North Fork area around Paonia, a haven of organic farming on Colorado’s Western Slope - opened public discussions around fracking in their respective areas.

In Boulder, the City Council was stunned when the crowd got unruly over hearings on the future of fracking in Boulder. The video below is from the Boulder City Council meeting last week, and shows that the fracking discussion has reached the boiling point:

Boulder County Commissioners Fracking hearing MIC CHECK from 23rd Studios on Vimeo.

Across the Continental Divide, the rich soils of the North Fork Valley around Paonia create some of the most pristine farmland in the state, and with the Roan Plateau and many other Western Slope gas fields already leased, bulldozed, drilled, and fracked, the insatiable fossil fuel profit machine is moving on to the organic farmlands of the North Fork valley.

This community reaction from Paonia shows another version of protest. Their “Community Protest” petition, reads as follows:

These public lands, administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Uncompahgre Field Office, cannot be leased for oil and gas development:

  • Until such a time as the BLM can show it has complied with agency regulation and federal law; and,
  • Until the BLM has in place an updated Resource Management Plan that accounts for, protects, and provides 
adequate management for the North Fork’s public lands and affected resources.

The Paonia petition is hardly a war cry, yet, but rather a plea for better management of oil and gas development. Sounds to me like a perfectly healthy request, but their North Fork Action website is still couched as a “protest” and "fight" which fans the fires of our already polarized society. Instead, it should be called what it is: a request for regulation of oil and gas development.

Boulder citizens need to do the same. Organize, not just vocalize.

Here at Lighthouse Solar, we realize we’re in the energy business too. We wouldn’t be where we are without oil and gas, but we also see a potential future where our energy production and consumption are not damaging to our world.  Fossil fuel investment, research, and development needs to support clean energy investment, research and development. Without clean energy, we’re doomed to ruin our health, our environment and our way of life; without fossil fuels in the interim, we’ll never achieve a clean energy future.

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