Once again we find ourselves having to protect our North Fork Valley from the gas and oil industry and the BLM as the latter renews efforts to lease thousands of acres for exploration and potential drilling right here where we live. Once more, as taxpayers and property owners, we find ourselves having to spend dozens, if not hundreds of hours, protecting ourselves from our own government.
Over 3,000 valley residents, organizations and businesses opposed BLM's first attempt to lease these parcels a few months ago (August 2012 lease) on the basis of incompatibility with current land uses, high potential for water and air contamination, decrease of real estate values, loss of business opportunities, proximity to our schools, impacts to wildlife, tourism, organic farming, ranching and many other reasons that are closely related to the very unique quality of life we have come to enjoy in the North Fork Valley. It is this quality of life that continues to attract new people, with new ideas and capital to invest here. Organic farming, ranching, wine making and tourism are all playing a vital role in creating a sustainable economy for our communities and each one of these already established activities depend heavily on environmental qualities that the oil and gas industry continues to ruin around the country as a result of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."
Moreover, evidence continues to surface as to the risks to public health associated with proximity to fracking operations and its impact on air and water quality, which poses a much greater risk for our children's health. It has been determined that toxic air pollutants emitted from gas wells can travel thousands of feet, but despite the evidence, the BLM insists in leasing parcels near our schools. Colorado already has about 30,000 producing gas wells throughout the state but this greedy, insatiable industry wants it all. They don't care if they have to drill next to schools, homes, ranches or hospitals, what they want is to make as much money as possible, and as quickly as possible.
As for the argument that we need all this gas to wean ourselves from foreign oil, think again, as the industry works hard on new plans to export as much of this fuel overseas. Currently the Energy Department is evaluating over a dozen export terminal projects, which will allow these companies to access fast growing world markets like India and China. The more they'll export, the higher the price for U.S. consumers and the higher the need for more and more wells, way over the half a million wells that dot the American landscape today. Where, when or how does it stop?
If you care about our valley call or write Helen Hankins, BLM Colorado state director, and ask her to withdraw the February lease of these parcels, all of them based on stipulations identified in a 20-year-old Resource Management Plan that reflects little of what our valley is today.