Thursday, February 28, 2013

State's Rights? What about Townspeoples' Rights?

     Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told KCNC radio that Colorado has an obligation to sue Fort Collins for banning oil and gas development within its city limits, calling an oil drilling ban a “taking” of mineral rights.
     “The governor takes no joy in suing local government,” Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown told the Coloradoan Wednesday. “As a former mayor he respects local planning and control. He also has an obligation to uphold the law. The governor wants to be honest with local communities about the state’s legal obligations. Bans like the one under consideration in Fort Collins violate state law.”
     Brown said Hickenlooper was unavailable to talk to local reporters Wednesday.
Hickenlooper told CBS4 that banning oil and gas exploration and production within Fort Collins’ city limits is a “taking” of the mineral rights of the city’s own citizens.
He said the state has “no choice” but to sue every city, town or county that chooses to ban oil and gas development and fracking.
     “That’s not a happy statement for a community to receive that the state wants to sue the municipality,” Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat said Wednesday. “Certainly, the city respects the authority of the state and the governor. He has a job to do and we have a job to do.”
     Weitkunat said regulation of oil and gas has been delegated to the state government, but she’d like to see more local government control over where drilling can occur.
“It’s not about defiance; it’s about what’s good for our residents and what’s the beset way to achieve that,” she said.
     “I personally don’t like the idea of getting sued,” she said. “My responsibility as a public official is to protect the city as well. ... I have back-and-forth feelings on that, but I don’t want to have the wrath of the governor by any means.”

     Needless to say, this will set a bad precedent if Ft. Collins caves in on this. It is much easier for Big Oil interests to buy one governor than have to bribe dozens of municipalities individually. If Ft. Collins backs down, governors of other states will seize on this and tell citizens of their states that they also lack the right to decide what will be done in their own towns. There will be no way to defend the contamination and exploitation of their own environs.
     Please take the time to write a letter to Gov. Hickenlooper that he is wrong on this.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Play's the Thing -

  "The Play's the thing, to set the message before the King". To paraphrase Shakespeare, sometimes the best way to speak to Power and get one's message to the people is to utilize the drama inherent upon the stage.
      A performance group from New York City has been working with students at Bucknell University to put on a play called “Same River”.
     The performance group is called “Strike Anywhere.” It travels to states impacted by natural gas drilling. Director Leese Walker and her crew spent three weeks in parts of Northeastern Pennsylvania, interviewing people affected by fracking.
     “Being in the place really influenced the show. All the little details you don’t think about. The jewelry shop, the banners in the town, give you the sense of how the towns have changed,” said Walker.
After their shows the group organizes town hall discussions, so people can talk about what they saw on stage.
     “In this case we want the audience talking to each other. The whole point of this show is to incite dialogue about pertinent issues,” said Walker. Bucknell students taking part in the performance hope the play gets people talking about fracking.
     “No matter what you feel about this, you go home and say you need to go further and figure out more about this. Getting informed is the first step in whatever direction you’re taking with this,” said Evan Turissini, a student.
     ... This author certainly agrees, and applauds this creative effort to reach out and educate the community. Congrats and kudos to Strike Anywhere and the students of Bucknell U.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fracking Industry Admits to Carcinogen Use

Those alarmed by the widespread adoption of fracking in recent years have tried desperately to expose the water-chemical cocktail that gas companies inject into the ground to access gas deposits. Unfortunately, the industry does not require disclosure of this fluid’s ingredients, even though it’s very likely to end up in the public water supply.
Up until now it’s been deny, deny, deny, but a recent industry report has exposed fracking for the deadly practice that it is.
It is not easy to pry information from the close-mouthed fracking industry, but sometimes they put their own feet in their mouths and disclose things to fracking-friendly websites. At one such site, "", the industry self-reported the liberal use of the carcinogens naphthalene, benzyl chloride, and formaldehyde in wells that connect to the drinking water supply.

Did you catch that? The use of carcinocens was voluntarily reported, by gas companies themselves, to a fracking-friendly website. That means no twisting of facts or empty accusations by environmentalists (not that that happens anyway). This is straight from the horse’s mouth, if you will, and it’s BAD NEWS for communities across the country.

A group calling itself "SkyTruth" has painstakingly compiled a database of the chemicals being used and dumped into the environment by the fracking industry. It is available here:

 Big Gas is allowed to pump these chemicals into the Earth with impunity. Sure, everyone from the EPA down claims to be “looking into” the potential hazards of fracking, meanwhile the gas companies are charging full steam ahead, using their financial and political clout to bully communities into submission.
It’s wrong, it’s dangerous and it’s time we did something about it.