East Coast Natural Gas Concerns Nothing New

     New York-based, energy watchdog group, Toxics Targeting, is outraged about how natural gas drilling activity along the Marcellus Formation will threaten water supplies from New York to Tennessee. In a November 10th interview with Amy Goodman,  group president Walter Hang  spoke about gas explosions, flaming water, industry attempts at appeasing communities, the need to protect New York’s pristine reservoirs and so on.

Note to New Yorkers: Welcome to the world of Garfield County.

     The good news is perhaps now that New York is threatened with the toxic impacts of natural gas drilling, something will be done about it. Like, passing the Frac Act, for instance. Maybe elected officials back there will not only sit up and take notice but will also take action. The majority of those in Garfield County are not, as was evident at the County Commissioner’s meeting on Monday, November 9th in Glenwood Springs.

     Members of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance  (GVCA) and others showed up for what they thought would be a discussion of a resolution they presented three weeks ago, calling for Commissioners to support the Frac Act. What happened on the 9th was not even close to a discussion nor was it about GVCA’s resolution. Commissioner Mike Samson had a resolution of his own, which was the topic of a discussion led mainly by Commissioner Tresi Houpt. (Samson had no copies for the audience but I was informed by a county official that it is pretty much the same as a Club 20 document issued on September 11, with the exception of a few words. ) In essence, Samson was against supporting the Frac Act, waving the flag of states’ rights and warning of the dangers of Big Government. John “Wyatt” Martin was right beside him, guns drawn and blazing.

     The outcome of the meeting was predictable: Samson and Martin voted in favor of the resolve. Houpt was the only one to vote in favor of the county’s citizens.   Many were disgusted at Martin’s dogmatic responses to all opinions that did not align with his own, education about the issue and personal experience notwithstanding. His patronizing and immature behavior toward Tresi Houpt was astonishing. Fortunately, Commissioner Houpt was more invested in citizen concerns and the enormity of the issue at hand to fall prey to Mr. Martin’s mean-spirited diversion tactics.

     Even though support of the Frac Act on the county level might not have made a huge difference in Washington, it would have made a world of difference to local citizens suffering from mysterious illnesses probably caused by energy extraction. It would also have sent a message that those of us in the West are just as concerned about our water as those in the East. This is not a states’ rights issue; it is a national issue that demands federal oversight.

Stay tuned…and thanks for listening.

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