How Colorado became ground zero in America's energy wars

How Colorado became ground zero in America's energy wars
Hadley Hooper

At the Denver premiere of the film Dear Governor Hickenlooper last month, there were no stretch limos, no red-carpet divas, no paparazzi or moguls in tuxedos. What you got instead, squeezed into the spartan confines of the Oriental Theater, were auteurs in old jeans and ball caps, a modest concession in anti-fracking T-shirts, and people hovering with clipboards, offering petitions or volunteer sign-up sheets.

A compilation of eleven shorts by Colorado filmmakers, Dear Governor Hickenlooper is a polemical, what-the-hell-are-they-doing-to-us savaging of the state's booming fossil-fuel industry and its use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the process of pumping vast amounts of water and sand mixed with toxic chemicals into tight shale formations to extract oil and gas. In the tradition of Gasland, the 2010 documentary that galvanized the anti-fracking movement nationwide, the film is by turns clinical and alarmist, instructive and emotional, earnest and inflamed.

And clever. The opening animated sequence, a kind of primer in the hydromechanics of fracking and the disposal of the contaminated wastewater underground, manages to present the whole process as a kind of loony science experiment. Another segment looks back ruefully at Project Rulison, a 1969 effort to blast natural gas out of the Western Slope with the aid of a forty-kiloton nuclear bomb. The project failed — the gas produced was too radioactive to market — and the clear implication of this history lesson is that current shale-extraction methods aren't all that foolproof, either.

Fractivist Shane Davis logged 70,000 miles on his car traveling the region with his PowerPoint data on well-pad spills and other violations.
Steve Glass, All Rights Reserved, www.GlassPhotography.com
Fractivist Shane Davis logged 70,000 miles on his car traveling the region with his PowerPoint data on well-pad spills and other violations.
Last September’s floods in Weld County swamped drilling operations and storage tanks, but state health officials said the damage posed no risk to water supplies.
fractivist.org
Last September’s floods in Weld County swamped drilling operations and storage tanks, but state health officials said the damage posed no risk to water supplies.

Another segment visits a Weld County family who's living in the basement of their home — because, the father explains, they can no longer endure the noise and harsh chemical odors emanating from nearby well pads. "You should be able to choose to not live next to an oil well," he tearfully declares. A sly coda to the film features a smooth-talking man trying to persuade a woman to engage in some unnamed intimate act with him, insisting that he "needs this," but she won't yield.

"It's a trust thing," she responds. "There are no guarantees. Fracking is just too risky."

The partisan crowd at the Oriental hooted and applauded at all the right moments. When it was over, the film's producers and leaders of fractivist groups took the stage to exhort and field questions. Director Stash Wislocki described the film as not simply an effort to entertain, but as a recruiting tool to get people to "sign up and knock on doors."

"We're hoping this is the beginning of a movement," declared Allison Wolff, one of the film's producers and a founder of Frack Free Colorado, a nonprofit that coordinates events with several local, statewide and national anti-fracking groups.

Other speakers held forth on the mounting evidence of groundwater contamination from well-pad spills and recent studies that found links between proximity to drilling and health problems, ranging from endocrine disruption to birth defects. Some wondered whether the injection wells used to store fracking fluids deep underground after their use, described as "oceans of toxic waste under your feet in Colorado," could have caused two recent earthquakes in Greeley. Mostly, though, they urged the audience to get involved in the ongoing, multi-front effort to gain more local control over the regulation of oil and gas drilling in Colorado.

Dear Governor Hickenlooper will be headed for film festivals this summer. It will also be showing up at community screenings all over the state, put together by a loose-knit but well-organized cadre of more than a dozen anti-fracking groups. "We're providing it to every nonprofit group that wants it," Wolff says.

The film may not be ready for Cannes, but it does represent a potent new weapon for local fractivists — a group that, over the past year or so, has grown increasingly savvy and resolute in its efforts to put the brakes on Colorado's far-flung frack zones. Bolstered by emerging research that suggests that the adverse impacts of oil and gas development are more extensive than previously reported, as well as last fall's floods — which exposed the vulnerability of wastewater storage sites — fractivists were able to achieve a clean sweep in local-control campaigns last November, as voters in four Front Range communities passed ballot measures imposing a moratorium on new drilling. Some of the same players are now racing to get a slew of citizen initiatives on the statewide ballot this year, calling for greater setbacks from residential areas and more local control; one measure even seeks to assert the primacy of community rights over "state pre-emption" and "corporate power."

The staggering array of proposals is a good indication of how the anti-fracking movement has expanded across the state, with increasingly ambitious and divergent aims. But that growth hasn't come without considerable pushback from the industry and its allies. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association and national lobbying groups have poured millions of dollars into pro-fracking educational and political campaigns, leading to a proliferation of issue committees or advocacy groups with nifty acronyms such as CRED (Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development) and LEAP (Loveland Energy Action Project). Two weeks ago, an effort to impose a two-year moratorium on new oil and gas drilling in Loveland was narrowly defeated, after an election campaign in which LEAP reportedly outspent the backers of the measure on a scale of at least forty to one.

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86 comments
jaytoolman92
jaytoolman92

I recently watched a documentary about the oil industry and this was one of the examples that they showed. I'm not exactly sure what to think about the whole controversy. It is pretty cool seeing tap water lit on fire. I don't understand how drilling miles away from their home could cause it though. http://jaschwall.com

WillieStortz
WillieStortz topcommenter

A few brain dead activists spreading lies about fracking doesn't constitute an energy war. 


Hickenlooper won because he is a knowledgeable,educated geologists that knows the arguments of the anti-fracking crowd are based on drug induced delusions.

Schultzy
Schultzy

Storing energy in the form of heat usually seems like an inefficient, expensive and complex approach.  If you want to convert surplus wind and solar energy to some form that is practical for transportation or commercial uses, and can be easily stored for long periods, then why not produce ammonia?  The nitrogen and hydrogen needed to make ammonia are readily available anywhere on earth.  The ammonia becomes liquid at very modest pressures, which makes it easy to store and transport.  Combustion engines can easily be modified to use ammonia fuel.  And burning ammonia fuel in a combustion engine does not produce any CO2 emissions.

Schultzy @  http://www.greatbasinindustrial.com/

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

These oil companies will send American oil to China, and once they suck us dry, they will cash their check and be gone. leaving behind a Superfund Cleanup Site beyond any Superfund corporate wasteland known to date.

On the plus side, for years man has dreamed of using water as fuel.  After fracking, you'll be able to burn your tap water.

scottdaves84
scottdaves84

In the article the author states "In Gasland, the money shot comes when a Weld County man sets the water flowing out of his kitchen faucet on fire, demonstrating that his drinking supply has been contaminated by methane. It's a powerful image that the industry has spent considerable time and expense debunking; a COGCC investigation concluded that the methane in the man's well was biogenic — naturally occurring — and not attributable to drilling operations. (That led to a rebuttal to the rebuttal from director Josh Fox, citing research that suggests fracking could be responsible for the migration of biogenic methane to well water.)"


This is the response from the State of Colorado Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, October 29, 2010. 


COGCC Gasland Correction Document on the website: http://www.cred.org/studies-reports/


Gasland was made for an agenda that starts in Abu Dhabi and Venzuela.  It full of delightful drama, misinformation and outright lies.  Don't take my word for it read the article unless that is you hold a similar agenda of ignorance and control of the ignorant (you).

natemarshall303
natemarshall303

The fracktivists are liars for the climate change propagandists. They are tools being used by the communist left to destroy our country ala Cloward and Piven! And they have been caught.. nobody believes MURSEBOY, SHAMEBOY or CONGRESSMAN FAGGOTBOY anymore. You who support them need to be executed in civic center plaza by ISIS.. you know your buddies.. the islamic terrorists!

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Isn't it cute when industry trolls lie for their rich corporate cultmasters.  They lie that there is no republican global burning.  You should be able to recognize their lies.  They will lie that fracking is safe, warm and fuzzy....it's only warm because it's causing good American's tap water to burn.

What could possibly go wrong with pumping many many tons of poison into our ground water?  When the shit hits the fan, or in this case your water, they will already have cashed the check and left town, leaving the taxpayer to clean up their mess.  Hey, conservatives:  How do you like THAT socialism?

@JCM333 http://youtu.be/4LBjSXWQRV8

JCM333
JCM333

Was Shane Davis car powered by farts?  70,000 miles in driving to speak of the ills of fracking seems rather defeatist to me.  


The article mentioned he lived in Firestone for a stint, if you knowingly move into an area (the greater Wattenburg and DJ Basin area) where there has been oil and gas development since the 1940's then you enter at your own risk.  If you are opposed to these developments don't move into a neighborhood where there is a well head in the middle of it.


Lastly, I noticed the CU Boulder shirt - rewind 100 years and you would be surprised to know that BOULDER was actually the site of vast oil and gas development.  The fracktivists would have you believing that this area is now uninhabitable, nothing but a dump and pollution everywhere.  What an eye sore Boulder must be.

natemarshall303
natemarshall303

We have fracked for over 60 years. Colorado has the strictest regulations for the industry in the country. What has changed? A MURSE and his minions want to spread lies and disinformation so he can feel like he has accomplished something in life other than the photo of him giving the one finger salute. Yeah that's professional MURSEBOY!


Fracking is 100% safe. The flooding may have released some product but only from the valves not from the casings. They can put cameras down the hole and see everything! Bet MURSEBOY didn't know that. 


They complain about water usage. Again, fracking is between golf course watering and snowmaking for the ski industry. The oil companies pay 3 times the rate of what a commercial enterprise pays for water. They buy it from surplus water supplies. 


Sand.. sand acts as a proppant and allows the fracture to stay open. It is 100% safe since it is sand and COMES FROM THE EARTH! Again MURSEBOY and SHAMEBOY it is from the earth. Do they not teach you that in freakheaven aka BOULDER.


But let the bans happen. Can't wait to see the citizens of Boulder have to pay over a billion dollars in lost revenue to the mineral right leaseholders and royalty holders. It's called takings and you do not have a legal right to do it without compensating the people who have invested and the people who have rightfully and legally leased their rights.


MURSEBOY and SHAMEBOY are going to cost the people in Colorado billions. tens of thousands of lost jobs that pay in excess of 50k a year to start. One major fracking company has 230 openings right now. Everyjob pays over 50K to start and 80-100k a year after 3-5 years of experience. Godo jobs are hard to come by but the dems seem to care more about creating minimum wage jobs.


In the end the industry will win! They have the money, the lawyers and the JOBS!

Stevecc14
Stevecc14

This isn't a black and white issue. The process of hydraulic fracturing, from the geology underground and drilling techniques, to the potential environmental hazards and affects to the quality of life around a well are all extremely complex. Our economy in this state, and in this country, is hugely supported by the oil and gas industry; to say that all fracking should be banned just is not going to happen. 


And on the other side, the industry needs to acknowledge the fact that a large portion of the population sees fracking in a negative light, and they need to actively address this. They can't just outspend the opposition and try to disprove compelling evidence. 


And people ON BOTH SIDES certainly have to stop with the disrespectful talk of those who disagree with them. That gets this discussion NOWHERE. Of course their are going to be people who disagree with you. Handle it like an adult. Or we'll be stuck with this "us vs. them" mentality with our neighbors for a long time.

natemarshall303
natemarshall303

There is no danger to fracking whatsoever. As usual the elft wing extremists have it all wrong and use lies and propaganda to keep us dependent on foreign oil so we can fight wars for Israel and other enemy states.


Fracking is completely safe. It does not come anywhere near the water source. In fact the aquifiers stop at 1,000 and they drill down to 8000-10000 feet and then install a special casing with concrete around it. No product even has a chance of contaminating anything.


Shame Davis as I call him is a proven liar and puppet of Cliff MURSE (male nurse) Willmeng a degenerate pig if I ever saw one.


They use less water to frack than they use to water golf courses in the state. The industry pays 3 times what a commercial business pays to get the water.


Frack fluids.. again 100% safe. Most are food grade!


Too bad Westword readers are stoned losers who can't comprehend reality but that's for another letter.



GMKnow
GMKnow

Fracking is dangerous and destructive. The mineral rights owner extracts their profits at the expense of trampling and stealing the surface dweller's rights to clean air, clean water, clean soil and peaceful enjoyment of their homes, and sentences them to a chronic degraded state of ill-health. The toxins and chemical byproducts from fracking and oil-gas production spews into the air continuously. Where do they go? Into everything. A well pad is the equivalent of a huge parking lot...with hundreds or even thousands of idling cars and trucks spewing their exhaust into your neighborhood...and OUR AIR supply.


Fracking is today's slave plantation where the oil masters are telling the slaves: we're going to frack you and there's nothing you can do about it. For me, I do not consent. I will not accept a degraded state of air, water, health and community so other people can profit. No.

Tom Aigeldinger
Tom Aigeldinger

John Pinnick, absolutely! That's the first thing I thought.

Tim Schilling
Tim Schilling

Jodus, it has been occurring in your state for over 40 years, so if it is destroying the environment then it is destroying your state already.

John Pinnick
John Pinnick

If a county/city can choose not to sell MMJ in a state that voted it in then they should also say whether or not to frack in that county/city.

Tim Schilling
Tim Schilling

Kevin Lord, quite intelligent response. Everyone is posting about the terrible things that could happen to Colorado with Fracking, if that is true there should he more evidence, earthquakes etc in Colorado, this has been going on long enough for that to come out. However, as many posted on this post, you still have a great environment in Colorado.

Kevin Lord
Kevin Lord

so that means it's safe, right dumbass?

WillieStortz
WillieStortz topcommenter

@muhutdafuga If only it weren't illegal to export oil from the US, your argument might hold merit.


One thing you can count on from a radical liberal. They will never let the truth get in the way of their arguments.

Sally
Sally

@JCM333


So you are admitting that Weld County is a toxic sacrifice zone? 


You're comment 'if you knowingly move into an area (the greater Wattenburg and DJ Basin area) where there has been oil and gas development since the 1940's then you enter at your own risk'---> infers that oil and gas emissions and spills that contaminate groundwater and our aquifer are a hazard that we should assess before moving into a county/city?


I thought cities were responsible for maintaining a healthy, safe environment. Guess not.  


MOVE INTO THE GASPATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK - says the fracker?



muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@JCM333 Once again, good Americans had to clean up the mess left behind by conservatives.

Sally
Sally

@natemarshall303


You' re the reason abortions are conducted.  10 million sperm and you had to survive?  Jeesh!

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@natemarshall303 And big republican oil has the brain dead little cultists to lie for them.

Stevecc14
Stevecc14

@natemarshall303 No, you can't say "there is no danger whatsoever". And people on the other side can't say "Its completely harmful". This black-or-white talk gets the discussion nowhere. How are you going to persuade or educate people who disagree with you (or who are on the fence about fracking) if you call someone a "male nurse", "degenerate pig", or "a stoned loser"? You do more harm than good. You provide nothing beneficial to this complex issue. You sound like a child.

Galttaggert
Galttaggert

What an ignorant analogy and here's why.  Local, State, and Federal governments have ALREADY collected money for licensing of mineral rights to individuals and companies.  That money has ALREADY been spent on roads, schools, welfare programs, PERA, and yes, even to subsidize alternative energy.....all well and good until the governments reverse their positions and say...."sorry, we took your money but now we don't want the minerals developed".  Are they going to give the mineral concession fees back?  Not a chance!  The only way your MMJ analogy would apply is if the various governments had taken money from people/companies under the agreement that they could sell MMJ in the vicinity and then turn around and, without compensation, say..."Sorry, we didn't really mean it....go away"


You should learn a little about how the world works before posting ignorant points of view.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@WillieStortz @muhutdafuga A cultservative wouldn't know the truth if it kicked their festering doughy ass.  It has been scientifically shown that KKKonservatives lie 3X more often than good Americans.

Why do so many KKKonservacultists sound sooooooo stupid?

Because they are.

What do you call a KKKultservative that isn't lying?  Silent.


http://youtu.be/4LBjSXWQRV8

scottdaves84
scottdaves84

@muhutdafuga @scottdaves84  Yup saw the movie.  Did you read the report from the COGCC?  If not, stay ignorant.  You'd be amazed at all the sources of methane (including you) that can get in ground water.

ScienceRocks99
ScienceRocks99

@GMKnow What a nice photo of the sand dunes. There has never been any agriculture there-- it has nothing to do with oil and gas development.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@scottdaves84 @muhutdafuga Fracking sites, the Superfund Cleanup Sites of the future.....after sending American oil to China, the corporations will cash their checks and be gone, while leaving their mess for good Americans to clean up.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@natemarshall303 @Sally Once again, a foul tempered conservative shows why WOMEN SHOULD NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN.

They campaign as moderates but govern as foul tempered radicals. 

Thank you, gnatty, for your self disclosure....you are EVERY conservative.

Sally
Sally

@ScienceRocks99


stoopid! spelling error intentional.


You appear to know nothing of science contrary to your hairband handle.

scottdaves84
scottdaves84

@muhutdafuga @scottdaves84  didn't read the article, did you?  Keep on being an ignorant (biogenic methane producer).  But do yourself a favor and read the COGCC reply and the sources.  Short of doing that, all you can do is declare your ignorance.


Educate yourself in the physics, geology, chemistry involved by reading the articles.  Then honorable enlightenment and meaningful discussion can and will occur. 


There are so many important aspects to consider and be investigated and understood.  Use your greater parts of your brain and intellect.  Again here is the COGC reply, read it and all of the supporting articles

COGCC Gasland Correction Document

scottdaves84
scottdaves84

@muhutdafuga @scottdaves84  Do you not have an open mind? Perhaps you may learn something. The letters and documentation are from the COGCC.  From an industry standpoint they are a difficult organization to deal with at times when politics and ignorance are abundant.


If you are of the opinion that any point but your own is incomprehensible and a lie, then you will not find any enlightenment and I would think the folks that want you to follow their doctrine will be pleased.


By all means stay ignorant!!



muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@scottdaves84 Open to industry propaganda?

After they see our oil to China and cash their checks, they will leave behind new SUPERFUND CLEANUP SITES TO BE PAID FOR BY THE TAXPAYERS.  

Difficult for the industry to deal with....translate:  THE ENVIRONMENTAL RAPISTS DON'T ALWAYS GET WHAT THEY WANT.  GOOD.

 
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