Arapahoe County, Colorado, is facing large scale industrial drilling with the new oil and gas boom.
But current laws don't allow citizens, cities, or counties to enact local ordinances regarding where drilling can occur and in what manner.
Current state regulations do not offer adequate protection to the public and the environment from horizontal hydraulic fracturing's (fracking) harmful impacts.
Residents and localities are denied informed consent and the right of refusal, and some are subjected to "forced pooling". Citizens, HOAs, developers, and municipalities are faced with uncompensated financial burdens and losses with fracking.
There is the potential for:
Loss of quality of life
Adverse health impacts and expenses
Loss of property values
Possible threats to mortgage and insurance coverage guarantees
Possible water, air, and ground pollution
Threat to water security in a water scarce state
Legal costs to prove harm and loss
Cost to taxpayer for remediation of contaminated land or water, damaged roads, etc.
Such coerced contracts, denial of rights, and uncompensated harms are contrary to our U.S. Constitution, our State Constitution, human rights, and common law.
This petition asks for relief from harm, from unlawful denial of rights, and from uncompensated loss, related to oil and gas drilling, by asking for a moritorium on drilling in Arapahoe County until such harms or insults are cured.
We the undersigned,
PETITION FOR RELIEF FROM HARM, FROM UNLAWFUL DENIAL OF RIGHTS, AND FROM UNCOMPENSATED LOSS, RELATED TO OIL AND GAS DRILLING IN ARAPAHOE COUNTY
Whereas residents of Arapahoe County are facing an unprecedented number of applications for industrial operations for oil and gas drilling in Arapahoe County, and in many cases in highly populated residential areas, and
Whereas these operations for oil and gas extraction, commonly including the 7-10 year old technique of horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, are known to result in the following documented harms:
- 24/7 large scale industrial operations (with extremely heavy volume tanker truck traffic, lights, loud noise, tremors, smells, emissions of toxic chemicals and gases), which greatly diminish quality of life and in some areas have led to dramatic decrease in property values and difficulty obtaining mortgages /new mortgages and/or homeowners insurance,
- Frequent spills and accidents, with an estimated average 30% rate of contamination of ground or surface water with highly toxic and not fully disclosed chemicals in Colorado, including contamination of underground springs and aquifers and hazards to public health that are intensified by lack of advance disclosure of chemicals used (thus precluding appropriate advance emergency preparations)
- Coincident methane migration, resulting in toxified wells, groundwater, and or surface water, with incidents of flammable water in homes and explosive conditions in homes, and ozone release higher than that associated with coal burning
- Operating protocols including: common usage of open pits to store toxic fracking wastewater, resulting in emissions of highly toxic VOC chemicals and thermogenic materials (radioactive nucleotides) and produced gases (hydrogen sulfide) directly into the air and over surface water (and into land and ground water when there is pit leakage); acknowledged dumping of toxified water in rivers or spraying on roadsides ; failure to treat toxic materials per regulations pertaining to hazardous waste
-Risk of serious harm to public health, associated with open pits, flaring and leaky condensate tanks, as well as with coincident methane release, including: increased rates of permanent neurological debilitation (chronic pain, muscle weakness, memory and other cognitive impairments), endocrine disruption associated with reproductive impairments and genetic defects, severe respiratory syndromes, dermatological rashes and pustules) , especially in pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those with existing medical conditions
- Use of an extraordinary volume of water (2-5 million gallons or more per frack and each well fracked up to 20 or more times) to extinction, meaning that water cannot be sufficiently cleaned and reused for other applications, (since it contains a mixture of highly toxic chemicals as well as thermogenic toxins) and is essentially removed from our hydrologic cycle ; moreover, the results of usage of such extraordinary amounts of water to extinction, in our semi arid state that is predicted to face several decades of increasing water scarcity, has not been publicly calculated by any agency of the state of Colorado, in terms of the cost/benefit ratio and risk status of such use to our state's water security
-Since the 1980's, the oil and gas industry has had a unique exemption from key federal statutes protective of public health and safety (including Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, CERCLA Superfund Act, the Community Right to Know Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, and others), which to date has left toxic air emissions unmonitored, toxic chemicals use undisclosed, highly toxified water not disposed of with the care due to hazardous waste, toxic chemical spills less regulated and not subject to full remediation of contamination by the offending company, and denial of full EPA access to spill and accident and contamination data that would inform improved practices and decrease threats to public health and safety
- Many of the above threats to public health and safety could be prevented and cured by use of available green completion technology, closed loop systems, less toxic frack fluid chemicals, methane capture, computerized modeling of the shalebeds, computerized continuous air and water sampling for the chemical signature of the frack fluid that was used with each frack of each well, but industry chooses not to use these techniques and our state agency, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and our legislature does not require them to do so, and
Whereas, neither our representatives in the Colorado state legislature, nor Arapahoe County, nor Tri-County Health, nor Arapahoe County city governments, nor its property owners have been fully advised of the above listed known harms, neither by oil and gas companies or by their trade organization (COGA) or by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), even though the companies, COGA and COGCC are well aware of these harms, these entities have thus denied our elected representatives, Arapahoe County, Arapahoe cities, and Arapahoe property /home owners of due advisement of known hazards and meaningful opportunity for informed consent or protest, and
Whereas COGCC asserts that it not only has full regulatory authority in the state of Colorado over oil and gas drilling applications, oversight, etc., it also purports that state oil and gas statutes and regulations preclude the following rights :
-The rights of counties and towns to enact ordinances regarding the place and manner of oil and gas extraction, which may be more restrictive than those imposed by the state, in order to assert their governmental right and fundamental responsibility to protect resident health and safety and quality of life and property values in their towns and counties , and to fully exercise their rights and responsibilities under the Colorado Constitution (especially sections 1031, 1043)
-The rights of individual property owners (either individually or as HOAs) to informed consent, meaningful protest, the right to refuse oil and gas leases, and to be free from coercive policies such as enforced pooling (which further vacate right of refusal); without the ability to exercise these rights, individual property owners and homeowners have been denied their Constitutional rights to life liberty and happiness, by virtue of denial of their right of peaceful enjoyment of their property and full value of their property, and
Whereas the above mentioned rights (to full advisement of harms, right to be free from harm and especially the right to be free from preventable harm of toxic insult to health, right to meaningful informed consent and right of refusal, and right to enact local ordinances in protection of the health and safety and quality of life and property values of its residents, etc.) are currently unjustly denied by COGCC and by industry, both localities and individuals stand to suffer additional financial harm and loss by currently coerced acquiescence to oil and gas drilling, related to: cost of excessive road use repairs, cost of full remediation of damaged land and water, loss in individual property value, possible inability to secure a new mortgage or homeowners insurance, loss in aggregate current and future value of the neighborhood (to the individual, the HOA, and the developer and secondarily to the city and county, in mill levy taxation collected), cost of legal fees to establish harm and file for damages, cost to diagnose and treat health problems associated with oil and gas drilling (health costs both to individuals and to the county, as documented in the Health Assessment prepared by the the Colorado School of Public Health for Garfield County), and
Whereas such coerced contracts, contracts devoid of critically important information and due notice of public hazards, denial of rights, and uncompensated harms are contrary to our U.S. Constitution, our state constitution, and common law, as well as our human rights (including but not limited to the internationally recognized human right to clean water), and our inalienable rights as human beings that precede and determine all constitutions, laws, and government structures,
Therefore, we petition for relief by asking for a moratorium on oil and gas development in Arapahoe County, until such time as the above harms and insults are cured or the oil and gas industry proves, by independently verified scientific study, that the lifespan oil and gas drilling and extraction techniques that it intends to use do not cause harm to human health and safety, quality of life, property values and mortgage and home insurance guarantees of coverage, water security, nor denial of rights otherwise assured by law to individuals, townships and counties.
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