"Growing Concerns," Kyle Harris, july 17
Excellent article. Tragic. I am afraid all of Denver has fallen victim to gentrification. One man's progress is another man's demise. Sad. Thank God for gardens — they give life, food. We need more gardens.
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"Frack Attack!" Alan Prendergast, July 10
My primary complaint about "Frack Attack!" is that you do not help the reader understand that the fractivists are using fracking as a surrogate issue for oil and gas well operations generally because it is easier to generate fear and misunderstanding. Surface spills, noise, odors, air emissions and flood impacts are either unrelated or indirectly related to fracking. The fractivists would have you believe that the only solution to the unrelated or indirectly related issues is to place a moratorium on fracking. The reality is that these problems, to the extent they are problems, can and are being solved.
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It is obvious that some of the opposition to fracking has more to do with views on climate change. If they cannot win that argument on its merits, they attack fracking as "unsafe." Others really are NIMBYists. They are more than happy to take the conveniences and economic benefits of oil and gas development as long as it occurs somewhere else.
On the issue of groundwater contamination related to fracking, the fractivists offer mostly conjecture and inferences such as non-disclosure agreements being used to cover it up. If this problem occurred often, nothing could keep it out of the press. More likely, an oil company will pay landowners, even if the evidence indicates that impacts due to its operations are unlikely, because of the high cost of litigation. Don't get me wrong: Failures do occur with well drilling and well construction. If the standard for being considered "safe" is zero tolerance for any impacts, no human endeavors would be considered safe — including alternative energy generation.
I often see the mention that fracking is the process of pumping "toxic chemicals" into shale formations. I would point out that the oil and gas present in the formation is also toxic. So the toxic frac chemicals mix with the toxic oil and gas, which flow or are pumped to the surface during the life of the well. The volume of oil and gas present in the formation dwarfs the volume of toxic frac chemicals.
This is not just a case of the fractivists against big oil companies. The farmers, their heirs and other landowners who own the mineral rights receive 15 to 20 percent of the revenue from all oil and gas that comes from the wells. This revenue is comparable to profit realized by the oil company. If the fractivists are successful, the mineral-interest owners would be deprived of this income. Some of these individuals are retired and on a fixed income, and others are simply trying to pay college expenses for their kids. Unfortunately, there is no organization that is forcefully speaking up to represent their interests.