I am alarmed by oil and gas company Crestone Peak Resources’ application to drill 151 new oil and gas wells in Adams and Arapahoe Counties, as part of its “Box Elder” plan. The massive size of this plan is perhaps outmatched only by the significant threats it poses to our air quality, the integrity and availability of our water, and our health.
Crestone cannot be allowed to contribute to and worsen our area’s already poor air quality.
Many residents living within or contiguous to the Box Elder boundaries are already overly burdened with noise, light, and air pollution from the Denver Airport, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Air & Space Port, railroad and interstate traffic. The harms suffered by my neighbors and others living in close proximity must not be further perpetuated by the additional siting of oil and gas drilling near their homes.
There are innumerable studies and extensive documentation of the correlation between exposure to/proximity to fossil fuel production sites and increased risk/occurrence of a multitude of health conditions. Nine hazardous air pollutants were identified by Crestone for use in their operations; they even acknowledge their wells “may result in air emissions which could potentially impact public health and the environment.” I don’t want our children breathing these toxins!
Crestone claims jobs and severance taxes will be a boon to the economy, while saying nothing of the irreparable damage to our environment and climate, and the detrimental impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. Crestone downplays the social cost of greenhouse gasses.
Airborne chemicals, including methane, are some of the most potent gasses contributing to climate change. The emissions predicted from Box Elder are expected to exceed 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is mandated to protect human health and welfare, as well as biological resources. Crestone cannot be allowed to ignore climate change, arguably the most significant environmental and societal problem we face.
Many of the Box Elder plan’s proposed locations are near sensitive areas for water resources. Most of the planned well-pads in the Box Elder Comprehensive Area Plan are within a half-mile of a stream or flood plain, and many are actually located within the floodplain. Some proposed well-sites are located less than 2,640 feet from surface waters or wetlands. The chemicals used in oil and gas operations frequently leak and spill, contaminating water sources; there were 6,600 incidents of spills in four states including Colorado over a 10-year period.
Box Elder lies within the Denver basin aquifer. Crestone itself says in its drilling application that “due to the relatively shallow depth to groundwater in some areas, spills and releases not contained by ‘Best Management Practices’ have the ability to infiltrate the ground and potentially reach ground water.” Let’s pray it never rains.
Box Elder’s proposed use of enormous quantities of our water resources flies in the face of our need to conserve this precious resource. Each of its 151 wells is projected to use almost a half million barrels of water – this equals more than three billion gallons of water! Aurora residents are already having to limit watering our yards to three times a week. And just in September, the city passed an ordinance intended to save water that restricts the very kinds of grass we can have in our yards.
The Box Elder plan must be denied; we simply can’t afford worse air pollution, jeopardized health, and further strained water resources.
On Nov. 2, state regulators at the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will be taking public comments about the proposed drilling plan while considering whether to issue or deny the plan’s permit.
Join me and other Aurora residents at this virtual hearing to advocate for our health, children, and community; please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen Ulrich lives in Aurora.
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