Silt Mesa resident continues her campaign against gas industry
Post Independent staff
SILT, Colorado – A second gas drilling rig went up on Silt Mesa this week, and some of the residents there are not particularly thrilled about it.
And at least one resident fears that the neighborhood is about to be overrun by gas rigs, with little or no say by those living in the area.
“It went up in the middle of the night,” said Beth Strudley, a Silt Mesa resident who, from her home, can see both the new rig and a well pad built earlier this year, both by the Antero Resources company.
The rig is in the nearby Mesa View subdivision, she said, and residents there have reported that, “Just like us, they weren’t told anything” in advance.
Strudley told the Post Independent in September that, before buying their house four years ago, she had been told by a state official that she would never have to worry about gas drilling.
She said her family grew alarmed when the first rig appeared in September, and she placed signs in her front yard declaring, “Antero is going to poison our water” and other warnings.
As do other critics of the industry, Strudley fears that the industry’s practices will contaminate ground water with toxic chemicals and ruin the area’s air quality with emissions from rigs, compressors and other facilities.
Industry representatives have consistently held that their activities do not pose health hazards to those living nearby, and that drilling for oil and gas is no threat to air quality or water quality in the vicinity.
But Strudley reported that she has had a nagging sore throat for some time, and that the air in the valley is smoggy and dense these days.
Adding to her concern, she said, is the fact that on Oct. 21, at a meeting in Rifle, Antero plans to ask the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to authorize an increase in the well density on Silt Mesa to one well every 10 acres.
Recently, Strudley said, she and her husband, Bill, who is a painting contractor, have been handing out packets of information to their neighbors, intending to arm them with ideas, theories and facts related to the industry and its presence in the region.
“It’s a whole bunch of stuff I’ve been acquiring over the past few weeks,” she said.
Among the contents, she explained, are brochures from the Western Colorado Congress and the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, two grassroots organizations active in the ongoing issues revolving around the gas industry in western Garfield County.
Plus, Strudley said, there are lists of telephone numbers to call with complaints or concerns; and a web address for downloading a free copy of the film, “Gasland” – which offers a critical view of the industry’s impacts on the health and lives of people living near wells; and a website put up by a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [http://scrapper.media.mit.edu/wiki/WellWatch] that shows the location of gas wells in various parts of the country, including Garfield County.
The information in the packet, she said, “Puts us in a real good position as far as what they’re doing to our health,” by bringing the neighbors together to talk about their concerns and fears.
“People need to know the truth,” she declared, referring to the industry and what she feels are its negative impacts on local communities.
“It’s not going away,” she continued. “It’s getting worse. The air is really bad now.”
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