In late June, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its long-awaited revised Environmental Assessment on a proposal to drill 108 oil wells in the Grand Junction watershed outside of Whitewater. WCC staff and leaders have finished our analysis of the new document and our concerns about threats to drinking water, air quality and overall quality of life for residents of the Grand Valley remain.
The revised assessment does have a lot of new text, but fundamentally the project has changed very little from when we challenged it in 2014. Although no drilling will be occurring directly in the hydrologic watershed that feeds Grand Junction’s reservoirs, drilling pads and access roads are proposed in areas with springs and streams that supply critical water to local ranchers as well as supplemental drinking water to the city.
As WCC has learned over decades of working with landowners impacted by oil and gas development, there is no 100% safe drilling project. Accidents happen, spills and leaks occur, trucks overturn and toxic chemicals can end up in water supplies. We believe the risks of this proposal are too great to our most precious resource in the valley: Water.
Here is a quick summary of our concerns. If approved in its current state, this project could:
It is also clear that BLM is working from outdated information. The E.A. is based on scoping information from 2011 and fails to offer the public a full range of alternatives to consider. BLM should re-analyze this proposal with an Environmental Impact Statement.
This project must be held to the highest standards possible, if allowed to happen at all. For more detailed suggestions for comments, click here. And don’t forget to send your comments to BLM before August 28 to ensure your voice is heard.
Also, the Mesa County Commissioners will be discussing their comments at a public meeting on Monday, August 21 at 9 a.m. at the Mesa Old County Court House if you would like to share your thoughts on this project with your elected officials.
Please get in touch with Emily Hornback at WCC if you have any other questions or need more information.