Happy Fracking Graduation, Greeley!

The Governor's office and stakeholders continue to discuss a potential legislative alternative to the fracking issue in order to avoid a handful of ballot measures that could show up this fall (more on this later). We've written before in this space that arguing for local control in fracking decisions is actually tough to oppose Hardliners who have thus far opposed any real efforts to find a legislative compromise are seriously misplaying their hand here, and images like those below certainly don't help their argument.

District 6 Stadium in Greeley is hosting two graduation ceremonies this weekend — Greeley Central High School tonight, and Northridge High School on Saturday — and we're guessing that grandma and Aunt Sally aren't going to be too pleased with the view from the stands. Anyone in Greeley who continues to support drill sites like this…well, we don't even understand what you would say in your defense. There are some locations, like the one below, that just should not be drilled.

Greeley graduation frack

District 6 Stadium in Greeley


Happy Fracking Graduation!

31 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Progressive Promoter says:

    I sometimes get grumpy with Denver Public Schools but at least they'd never turn a high school field into an industrial site. Am thanking my lucky stars right now – and sending my sincere sympathies to families in Greeley. Ugh.

    • robertrwinklerxx says:

      Wait it's coming to your neighborhood soon. If they can drill in Boulder, Larimer, Weld, and many other counties why would Denver be spared. There is black gold under the city.

  2. Half Glass Full says:

    You're right, that drilling rig ruins that otherwise pristine, incredibly beautiful, classically proportioned backdrop for a high school graduation. That stadium looks like a heavenly collaboration between Frank Lloyd Wright and I.M. Pei – or at least it did, before that fracking rig desecrated it.

    Look, there are lots of reasonable arguments against fracking, but arguing that it detracts from the visual splendor of a typically dumpy, nondescript high-school stadium isn't one of 'em…

    • Davie says:

      Um, I think the point of the picture is to remind everyone that it is all about the fumes and chemicals that tend to accompany the rig, and their potential health implications when exposed to young kids. 


      • robertrwinklerxx says:

        It's a reflection of what the majority community of Greeley feels is important. Personally it makes me sick. People might care about their health and property values after they've destroyed the community we call home and leave us with the negative impacts. Frack.files@gmail.com

      • robertrwinklerxx says:

        What about the 21,000 already in Weld county and 627 in Greeley. No one cares because everyone is making money off of the carnage. Eventually the community of Greeley "Sacrifice Zone U.S.A" will receive the full brunt of irresponsible behavior and it will be to late.

      • ajb says:

        I'm thinkin' that a few gallons of paint, a cherry picker, and a high-schooler's fertile imagination could turn that into a thing of beauty. Not that I'd condone vandalism or anything…

        On a more serious note, I recall seeing a map of Colorado O&G sites, and there was a curious hole around Greeley. Is that just my mind playing tricks? Or has Greeley been spared the worst of it?

        • robertrwinklerxx says:

          Just wait. There are 627 in operation with another 200 permitted. So much for your donut hole. Why not take a "Tour of Destruction" to view how many are closer to homes than permitted by state regulations. A Greeley loophole provides for special review by the planning commision which grants anything they feel like regardless of impacts on its residents.

      • Ralphie says:

        @Davie–yeah but it's Greeley.  It already smells bad.

        • langelomisterioso says:

          But generally only when the wind was from the correct direction to blow into town from the feedlots(Monfort at the time).Now I bet it smells bad most of the time.Graduated from UNC early 70s then made another tour through the vicinity about 10 years later.

    • robertrwinklerxx says:

      We may as well live in Gary, Indiana or maybe NE Denver next to the SunCor refinery. I thought at one time people liked to live in a rural community instaed of an industrial wasteland.

  3. ct says:

    From about 1999 until the bust in 2007-08 the activity was focused in Garfield County…with nar a peep from concerned folks on the Front Range.  But some of us outstate have been dealing with the loss of health, clusters of cancers, poisoned water and ruined lands for a long time.  many were forced to move only they cannot tell anyone why, their pay off for ruined land and health was hush money.

    This is a highly industrial, highly impactful, highly damaging activity. Anyone that says otherwise has either bought a bucnh of BS or is peddling it.  It does not belong in our communites, next to our schools, in our irrigation adn drinking water supplies, or in prime wildife habitat.  Colorado is being told it must allow the industry itself to call all the shots–determine where, how, when the activity occurs, and that even a modicum of local empowerment to say–"uhh not next to the high school athletic field please"–means we want to force the world's rishest industry into bakruptcy, doom the state, send our kids off to die in foreign lands, and steal little old ladies' retirement funds.  (These things have all–more or less been said by industry and its boosters, including those we sent to office in the misguided belief that the might represent us).  Rather than sticking up for common sense and communites too many of Colorado's leaders (with a few exceptions–thank you Congressman Polis!) are siding with their well-heeled friends.  But the backlash is coming–had industry actually invited communites to sit at the table as equals rather tha as impediments to profit, pawns, and tools, it might be different. 

    • Craig says:

      You want my guess?  The well being drilled is the re-working of an old oil well which was there before the high school stadium.  You're just simply not recognizing all the issues here.  And, you're certainly not recognizing the property rights of mineral interest owners.  In most of the cases where this is a problem, the city has moved to the oil field, and not the other way around.  How would you like it if the government came in and said you can't live in your house because we want to put a school next to it?  Same thing.

  4. Craig says:

    Well if some sites should simply not be drilled, then I nominate you to open up your pocket book and pay for the condemnation of those mineral owners' property interest.  You know, its a think called the Constitution and you can't ignore it anymore than the right wing nut cases can.

    • ct says:

      You're simply not recognizing all the issues here.  For instance in my post a lot of what is going on are federal minerals being leased; or places where surface was sold without fully informing property owners, or misrepresenting sub-surface rights in split-estate situation.  True story–2002, sitting on a puddle jumper from Houston to GJ, and I happened to sit next to the spouse of a COGCC staff.  I didn't tell her what I did, but she happily told me how stupid the disgruntled property owners were with their little retirement homes since they didn't know the minerals had been sold from under them.  In the case of Battlement Mesa, for instance, the oil and gas companies sold the 'perfect retirement community' after the oil shale bust and kept the minerals.   Finally, a mineral right–hell any right–does not presuppose that any use or extraction method is OK in every place.  I own property but I cannot make it a toxic land fill and my inability to do so doesn't mean I am the victim of a 'taking.'   So it’s not as clear cut as you want to make it. And don't condescend to me.  

  5. ct says:

    Also, the notion that requiringan additional 1/4-mile or half-mile set back, or limiting traffic through town, or putting a higher level of BMPs (via local control) on development in residential areas will drive the industry out of the state and make us send our children off to foreign lands since we won't acheive energy independence (even as we ramp up exports and many indicators point to shale resources being a bubble, a 'retirement party' and not a 'revolution'–yes I can provide links), is nothing but fear-mongering bullshit.  


    • DaftPunk says:

      Re setbacks:  Please correct me if I'm wrong about the following. These wells go vertical miles under the surface, and with directional drilling, the site to be fracked may not be horizontally anywhere  near where the wellhead is on the surface. Multiple wellheads can be on one pad, with the fracking site long distant from where the pad actually is.

      Assuming all this to be true, what difference to the O+G company does 1/4 mile on the surface make?  A small increase in costs?  How significant is it?

      • ct says:

        It’s being told by peon surface dwellers what they can and cannot do.  During the Roan Plateau campaign, an issue oil and gas companies whined and complained about was being told by activists/conservation groups they should drill directionally and leave the public lands atop alone.  "We can't go that far," they moaned.  "It's too hard…" Well, guess what, now they can. (At the time they knew they would soon be able to, it is reasonable to surmise, but have no issue–it would appear–telling untruths).  Technology changes and pretending that disallowing a certain highly impactful technology on a particular land or mineral claim is a 'taking' is a very dubious claim.  (PS, the Roan plaintiffs won on the issue before a federal judge, of course it’s reasonable to require directional drilling, just as its reasonable—and prudent—to require larger setbacks from building and occupied areas).  In the case of the well in the photo it could very well be (although it is not necessarily) a company going in and using a previous bore, however they are going after (if that is the case, in all likelihood) a deeper target.  Thus they could get to that target from a further distance, then, but that would cost more money.  And that is the issue pure and simple.  

        • Tom says:

          Getting to the site from a further distance has the additional problem of encroaching on the increasingly tony McMansions that dot the landscape in that area. Straight down, you're just dealing with the city and the school board- both totally on board. Slanting in, you might disturb some well-to-do banker or builder's horses with your noise.

          • ct says:

            Good point.  Like the ExxonMobil CEO worried about the effects of industrial development on his tony 'rural' neighborhood, horse pastures, and property values.  Kids are expendable, the carriage house not so much.

            • Duke Cox says:

              I certainly can't add much to what you've already said here, ct. When O&G folks, and rich folks in general, think of "property rights", the term has a very specific meaning….

    • DaftPunk says:

      Corollary question/confusion.

      If you're drilling into a pocket of gas miles below the surface and some degree lateral to where the actual well head is, how do you determine who has those rights?  Is it who controls the land directly above the pocket?  How do you know if someone is drinking your milkshake?


      • Duke Cox says:

        Such confusion is generally settled with the practice of "pooling". A large area will be established as a "unit", the partners (mineral owners) will each have a negotiated share. That said..there is no industry I know that attracts more thieves than O&G…except maybe banking.

        • ct says:

          Yes, the mineral ownership is also platted like surface ownership.  As Duke notes pooling helps with the problem, although the situation is differnt with tight plays (like tight sands and shale) than in conventional fields where it is a pool like you describe.  In tight plays the minerals are not in a reserve but sandwiched between layers of shale and sand and limestone and thus need fracked.  So 'drainage' is not the problem it is in conventional plays.  But as Duke points out its not always an honest pursuit.  

          • Duke Cox says:

            I am sure you remember, ct, when the Savage family and Paul Bernclaw , in Garfield County, won a multimillion dollar settlement against Williams for just such thievery… and, as a side note I should mention that when I tapped “thievery” on my little word fill-in gizmo, the next word that popped up was…wait for it…corporation.
            Now how did that happen?

  6. ct says:

    Mineral rights that predated surface development… many also predated the use of multistage horizontal fracking as the technology did not exist until the mid 90s (despite the BS being peddled by CRUD.org and the like about it being used in Colorado for 60 years). But you what kind of 'well stimulation' had been tested prior to those mineral rights? Exploding atomic and hydrogen bombs underground.  Can mineral owners then just decide to let loose a nuke down the well bore?  No, that technology–although it existed at the time of the mineral right sale–is not appropriate, nor is disallowing it a 'taking.'  On the other hand, disallowing a technology in certain places that did not exist at the time the mineral right was acquired we are being told is a 'taking' because of a 'thing called the Constitution.'?  Please show your work on that claim.  

  7. ct says:

    The backlash is coming.

    The Crowders sued over, among other things, the dust, noise, and smell they say came from the site. The trial ended this week, and the jury sided with them, agreeing that Chesapeake Energy – which operates the site – created a nuisance and prevented the Crowders from enjoying their property.

    "It's hard to put into words," Sam said, choking up a bit. "I think now people will pay attention and listen to us, because no one ever listened before."

    The jury awarded the Crowders $20,000, which is much less than the $108,000 they asked for. But overall, the verdict is more than they hoped for.

    "Somebody listened to us, finally," Jane said, "and something was done."

    "We went to the zoning board, we went to city council — it made no difference," Sam added. "I don't think anybody really ever listened. […] Then they make you feel like a trouble maker."

    Chesapeake told the Star-Telegram they would not comment on the verdict, which only applies to past damages.  It does not prevent the well from operating in the future.

    But for the Crowders, "it's a huge relief," said Sam with a laugh. "It's been tense. It was a struggle. But we stuck it out."

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