Because I so deeply appreciate our lives here in beautiful Montezuma County, as Im sure you do, I want to make sure that you all are aware of the fact that the Bureau of Land Management will be offering over 1,800 40-acre leases for natural gas production in the San Juan National Forest. The natural gas play area covers more 1,000 square miles, extending from above Mesa Verde north and west up into Dolores County. It includes the entire watershed for our county.
Production will entail drilling vertically, often over 1000 to 3000 feet, then extending piping with perforations horizontally. The shale layer is cracked in many places by highly pressurized fluid to release the gas. An average of 5 million gallons of water, plus sand, propant and chemicals are used in the fracking of one well. A well may be fracked more than once during its 20-30 year productive span.
Each 40-acre site will have a well pad of 5-15 acres necessary to accommodate the many tanker trucks containing water, propant, sand, chemicals, drilling equipment, mixing equipment and pressurized propelling devices. Tankers must also be available to transport huge amounts of the retrieved toxic waste water. (Each tanker carries approximately 5,460 gallons of fluid. One frack of 2,000,000 gallons of water equals 366 truckloads of water plus 180 trucks for hauling waste water.)
Of course, in addition to the pads, roadways in the forest will be needed for transport as well as pipeline easements and transformers.
So will our forest any longer be there for us to play in or will gas development play out the opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, wildlife, grazing, fresh air, clear skies, serenity, tourism and licensing dollars, and even preclude other mandated uses of our forests? Will concrete and roads replace trees, animal habitat and forage?
Fracking horizontally is a relatively new procedure developed by Halliburton and coincidentally exempt from specific regulations of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The procedure has been banned in France and other parts of the world and moratoriums imposed in parts of the United States. Toxic chemicals used in fracking have been found in water sources. Reports of people getting sick prompted a recent EPA announcement linking groundwater pollution and gas extraction by fracking.
Air-quality monitoring has demonstrated that natural gas production is not as clean as claimed. The emissions linked to combustion include particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxide and carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Another group of emissions into the atmosphere are those associated with natural gas itself, such as methane, ethane and the volatile organic compounds. Health effects of exposure include birth defects, neurological problems and cancer. These chemicals combined with sunlight result in ozone formation. Ozone endangers lung development in children and increases respiratory ailments. Surely more research and regulation is indicated.
Outrageous! More than 1,800 40-acre gas leases anticipated within this decade! Two to 8 million gallons of water needed for each well! Where will this water come from? How will it affect availability for current usage? Huge amounts of chemically and possibly radioactively contaminated residual wastewater will have to be disposed of. Where? A spill from one tanker truck into the Dolores River would be disastrous.
If this Gothic Shale natural gas play area is developed, our lives will be radically impacted. Water availability, potential air and water pollution affecting health and quality of life, tanker truck traffic on our roads and through our towns, noise, hunting, fishing, tourism, ranching and farming, etc.
The total negative, scary impacts of this industry in this important pristine area totally outweigh any benefit. The costs would be too high.
Pat Kantor is a Dolores resident.