Beware coal bed methane |

Beware coal bed methane

Bob Utesch

Dear Editor,

The article in Tuesday’s GSPI describing the county’s approval for waste pits between Silt and Rifle should serve as a wake-up call to local residents.

The need for evaporation ponds of this type is clear evidence of coal bed methane development (CBM).

Coal bed methane is a form of natural gas trapped in coal deposits by large quantities of water. Development of coal bed methane fields typically require the pumping of enormous quantities of water, often contaminated with salts, minerals, and sometimes heavy metals.

The water is not usable for irrigation and must be disposed of – thus the need for evaporation ponds. A better method of disposing of the contaminated water is to re-inject it into the ground. Because this method is more costly, industry seldom chooses this option.

In our area, waste water will need to be trucked to the evaporation ponds from wells located more than 10 miles away on narrow county roads not intended for heavy truck traffic. Residents of the area will now contend with this traffic 24/7 and the county (taxpayers) will pick up the tab for increased maintenance.

In addition, after the water evaporates, how will the toxic sludge left behind be disposed of?

Is this the type of development we want to replace agriculture in Western Garfield County?

In Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, the BLM says that in early 2003 it will give final approval for the drilling of 39,000 gas wells on 8 million acres, resulting in the pumping of 3.2 million acre feet of water.

The San Juan Basin of New Mexico is now an industrial wasteland of 30,000 CBM wells, that has resulted in thousands of miles of dusty roads, hundreds of miles of pipelines, and compressor stations powered by 1000 hp engines that run round-the-clock.

CBM is not just an issue for the western part of the county. There are substantial coal deposits near New Castle, Carbondale, Redstone, and many other areas of this county. All of these seams have the potential for CBM development.

Want to see real estate values plummet? Just mention there is CBM in the neighborhood. Is this our future? We can choose.

Currently, there is no protection for the ranch families and rural residents who are living in the bulls-eye of natural gas development. Many historic ranching and agricultural communities throughout the west, including Wyoming, Montana, and New Mexico, have been destroyed by CBM. Third- and fourth-generation ranching families have been forced to sell their land for pennies on the dollar.

Residents of Garfield County who want to protect their quality of life need to stand up and take notice now. Call your county commissioner today and voice your concerns for soon it will be too late.

Bob Utesch

Dry Hollow

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