Point: In favor of Proposition 112
Here’s why I support Proposition 112 and the 2,500-foot drilling setbacks.
1. There has been, to my knowledge, no study or statement or information that supports the premise that the affects of oil and gas drilling and residual effects of transportation, water and chemicals, noise, etc. are healthy for humans, animals, communities. There have been some studies that claim that they have not found direct adverse effects within 500 feet of drilling, but no studies showing it is healthy and other studies saying there may be negative health effects. Those living close to drilling pads have had adverse health and living conditions.
2. The opposition and funding against Prop 112 comes primarily from the oil and gas industry. The dire economic effects and the neutral health and livability claims come from the very industry that profits from the 500-foot setback. Should I believe the industry about benign health effects and economic Armageddon? Should we have believed the tobacco industry about the safety of cigarettes, the mining industry about coal dust, the pharma industry about thalidomide, the agra/chemical industry about DDT, the financial industry about mortgage bonds?
3. While Garfield County may be impacted in a negative manner by increased setbacks, much of that impact has already been felt in the past. The oil and gas industry seems to react more to commodity prices than regulation. In recent years, prices have been down and hence drilling and related employment and county revenues have been down, in spite of the current setback rules. While the industry has contributed greatly to our county coffers, it has also been a major cause of unemployment and bankruptcy and unpredictability. The cyclical nature of the business led to the Black Sunday of 1982, as well as other dramatic pull backs and heartbreak in recessions and downturns in oil and gas prices. While we benefit from the industry here in GarCo, we have also paid a high price for that revenue and we need to continue to seek diversity and stability and safety for our residents.
4. According to the reports in September, over $21 million has been spent opposing 112 and about $700,000 for 112. Follow the money. Major donors fighting 112 “include Anadarko, $5.8 million; Noble Energy Inc., $4.5 million; PDC Energy, $3.4 million; and Extraction Oil and Gas, $2.2 million.” I question the motive of profit and revenue over safety and caution. I’ll take David over Goliath.
5. If profitable, the oil and gas industry will find ways to deal with safer setbacks. The technology of directional drilling and horizontal drilling and extraction has continued to improve and will likely continue to do so if prices are right.
6. Garfield County has a large amount of federal land, perhaps one of the largest in the nation, available for extraction. Proposition 112 does not apply to these lands. We are likely to be less affected than Weld County. We also have more opportunity for growth in the outdoor recreation industry and other economic growth and diversity
All in all, I favor the “underdog” of citizens more concerned about safety and livability than corporate profit. I choose not to endorse the scare tactics and dire predictions of the industry. If legislators, COGCC and the industry had been more responsive to requests and concerns of many citizens, a more flexible solution may have emerged.
Sumner Schachter is a Glenwood Springs resident and identifies as an unaffiliated voter.
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