Comment by Aug. 14 on Whitewater drilling proposal

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Comment by Aug. 14 on Whitewater drilling proposal

Look out, Grand Junction, Whitewater, East Orchard Mesa and Palisade!  Oil & gas interests are back with a new plan to drill up to 108 oil wells along Grand Mesa – from Kannah Creek to nearly the Colorado River.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has drafted a Preliminary Environmental Assessment for the Fram Whitewater Master Development Plan, covering 26,000 acres of your public land.  Comment is accepted, but you only have until August 14 to submit your thoughts.  Join Western Colorado Congress and its friends at WCC of Mesa County to ask BLM for more time!

Send BLM Your Letter Today!
BLM Grand Junction Field Office
2815 H Road
Grand Junction, CO 81506
email: BLM_CO_GJ_Public_Comments@blm.gov

A few points to Consider:

  • What’s the Rush?  BLM’s creating new national rules on fracking, and the Grand Junction Field Office is in the middle of updating its Resource Management Plan (RMP).  If the agency waited for the new fracking rules and RMP before making its decision, resource managers would be better informed and industry would be held to a higher standard.  Plus, interested citizens and communities would have more time to review (and respond to) the proposal. Although there have been some amendments along the way, BLM is basing its forthcoming decision on a Resource Management Plan that was written in 1987.
  • Water. For better or worse, BLM can allow oil & gas drilling (and fracking) close to water supplies.  This proposal includes industrial facilities close to Kannah Creek and the City of Grand Junction’s watershed.  Hallenbeck and Juniata Reservoirs would have wells nearby, as would Whitewater Creek, Sink Creek, and Long Mesa Ditch.  The City of Grand Junction may have standards for drilling in its watershed, but BLM needs to ensure those rules are honored.  Also, Grand Junction could be selling public water to the oil & gas company!
  • Air Quality in the Grand Valley and western Colorado is getting strained.  Every oil & gas well emits vapors, each truck kicks-up dust, and other ancillary facilities add to the problem (ie pipelines, compressor stations or waste fluid holding cells).  Diesel trucks and generators, little by little, contribute to growing air quality issues in our region.  When it’s all added-up, Mesa County could see worse winter time inversions, higher ozone levels and more breathing problems for sensitive people.  Also known as smog, ozone forms when two oil & gas pollutants—volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)—react with sunlight. Levels above 75 parts per billion are considered a health hazard. The Grand Valley has hovered in the 60’s at times.
  • Local Orchards & Vineyards could be negatively impacted.  It’s important that BLM seriously consider the negative impact oil & gas may have on Mesa County orchards, wineries and associated tourism.  Increased truck traffic on rural roads may hinder a farm’s ability to get its produce to market, and compromised water supplies could really spell disaster.  Imagine sampling some Palisade wine or peaches while seeing oil & gas rigs on the horizon.  Would you come back to tour or taste, if this was your experience?
  • More info needed!  Previously, Fram proposed to drill up to 492 wells across its leased Whitewater Unit in both Mesa and Delta Counties.  Today’s plan, however, is a scaled-back version for 108 wells in only Mesa County.  BLM should get more info from Fram about their future plans for the area, including Delta County.  Appropriate cummulative impact analyses are necessary for sensitive plants like the Colorado Hookless Cactus, and for the nearby Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area.

A Few Numbers:

  • In Colorado, there are over 50,000 active oil & gas wells and more than 2000 wells have been approved already for 2013.
  • According to Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission staff reports, there were about 400 spills last year across the state–and we’ve already had nearly 200 spills this year.  Mistakes can, and do, happen–so let’s be especially careful as we consider oil & gas wells, haul routes, pipelines and “ancillary” facilities close to water supplies.
  • The Fort Collins Coloradan reported that nearly 75% of all air quality violations recognized by Colorado authorities during the first quarter of 2013 were attributed to oil & gas.

Read WCC’s full fact sheet on the FRAM Proposal here.

For more information contact Frank Smith at (970) 256-7650 or frank@wccongress.org

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