The proximity of the proposed 30,000-acre lease sale to the North Fork communities’ schools, homes, and sources of drinking water makes it crucial that the public is provided the opportunity to learn from the experts about the threats of fracking so they are able to submit substantive comments on BLM’s Environmental Assessment. The deadline for public comment is April 6.
In the scoping public comment period, residents of the North Fork Valley responded to this proposal by submitting approximately 3,000 letters to BLM. An estimated 63% of the households in the Valley reacted so strongly to this proposal that they felt compelled to express their viewpoint. Practically all of the letters asked BLM to withdraw the entire lease sale.
When BLM denied the community’s request to hold a hearing to provide residents an opportunity to publicly express their concerns, CHC held a hearing for the community. On Saturday, January 28, more than 500 North Fork residents filled 400 seats and every square inch of standing room in Hotchkiss High School to voice their overwhelming opposition to BLM’s proposed lease sale. Their words were well researched, and powerful: the citizens of the North Fork Valley do not want fracking near their water sources, their schools, or their homes. The potential damage to the community’s air, water, produce, vineyards, farms, livestock, deer and elk winter range, and real estate values is not worth the risk.
Despite the unprecedented level of civic involvement and opposition to this proposal, BLM is marching forward with the sale. According to CHC Board member Daniel Feldman, “If BLM fails to respond to such a tremendous outcry of opposition to the proposed lease sale, then our system of government is severely broken.”
Chip Northrup—Former planning manager for Atlantic Richfield Company, co-owner of Northrup Energy, and investor in the acquisition and sale of oil and gas projects for more than 30 years. Chip has served on the Texas Governor’s Energy Advisory Council.
Dr. Theo Colborn—Founder and President of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange and the country’s foremost expert on the health and environmental effects of chemicals used in oil and gas development.
John Fenton—Rancher from Pavillion, Wyoming, where U.S. EPA has confirmed chemicals from oil and gas development have contaminated groundwater. John is on the Board of Directors of the Powder River Basin Resource Council and has written articles published in High Country News.
Calvin Tillman—Former mayor of Dish, Texas, a small town that was transformed into an industrial zone by natural gas development. Calvin works with state legislators on natural gas regulations and is active with the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project.
Deborah Rogers—Financial analyst, former advisor to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and authority on the economics of unconventional shale gas drilling (horizontal hydraulic fracking). Deborah is on the regional steering committee of Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project.
Kyle Tisdel—Staff Attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center where he works in the Climate and Energy Program.
Duke Cox—Longtime activist, former President of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, and member of the Board of Directors of Western Colorado Congress.