According to a story in the Denver newspaper from September 14th, billionaire Republican Phil Anschutz has bought up millions of acre-feet of water in the Denver Basin Aquifer, underneath the Greenland open space between Denver and CO Springs, and is now drilling wells to begin draining it. Is there any resource that the 1%-ers do not feel it is their right to exploit?
Deep wells are being drilled to tap 1.5 million acre-feet of water under the Greenland open space in Douglas County, a potentially game-changing project at a time when south-metro communities are scrambling to reduce their dependence on underground aquifers.
Rights to the water were acquired by billionaire Phil Anschutz last year, and one of his companies, Sun Resources, is building wells that could pump as much as 15,000 acre-feet of water per year from Denver Basin aquifers.
A couple of points to be made here; the first is the absurd irony of the water mining scheme, in which an aquifer – that will take a hundred years or more to recharge once depleted – is to be tapped as “insurance against drought”; so industrialists and oilmen, like Anschutz, in their unrelenting, irresponsible quest to drill and process fossil fuels, add millions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, causing climate change — which in Colorado manifests itself as reduced rainfall and lighter snowpacks, resulting in drought. Then, when they have created a drought, they buy up groundwater and drill, baby, drill for it!
And the rest of us? When Anschutz and other corporations-who-are-people suck the Denver Basin aquifer dry, what are we to do while waiting for the 100-year recharge to take place? Undoubtedly, Anschutz and his GOP friends expect us to come begging for it, hat and wallets in hand.
The fact that this water robbery is to take place in an area designated precisely to protect it from this kind of industrial rape is just adding insult and further injury to inury.
So the second point of issue is why on earth is this being allowed to happen? And if the backward right-wingers on the Douglas County Board of Commissioners are too deep in corporate, er, peoples, pockets, then why isn’t the state government doing something to put an end to this?
The answer, of course, is that as long as the far-right, tea party-infused Republicans retain control of the State House, it can’t.
If this big money, GOP water mining scheme teaches us anything, it is the grave importance of putting progressive, forward-thinking people back into leadership in the State House. As long as that chamber is held hostage by McNulty and Company, any hopes of making progress towards protecting and conserving our resources and the state’s ecological health are tragically on hold.
The good news is that all indications are that Democratic candidates around the state are faring well, and the Democratic Party is poised to regain the House, and cement their lead in the Senate.
The task will then be to hold our government to its promises to the people. A good place to start might be issuing a moratorium on drilling in the Denver Basin. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to simply wait and do nothing until then; in the interim, we need to keep a close eye on what the Romney-Anschutz money men are doing to our state, and urge the Interim Water Resources Review Committee to consider such a moratorium as an emergency measure to ensure that the state’s resources are not placed in the hands of a greedy few at the top of the socio-economic ladder. Start by calling and e-mailing the Democrats on the committee: Representatives Roger Wilson and Ed Vigil, and Senators Gail Schwartz, Angela Giron and Mary Hodge.
You can contact the Republicans too if you wish, but unless you are a corporation reading this with the ability to write checks to them like Anschutz, don’t expect much.