tv [untitled] October 11, 2011 9:31pm-10:01pm EDT
just a few minutes ago in r.c. our special report from the rocky mountains and the locals battle against the energy company drilling for natural gas and their backyard. in two thousand and four some residents in garfield county began to complain that they were getting sick as a result of the drilling activities in their neighborhoods. a young woman from silt laura amos was one of the earliest and loudest voices. as everyone in this room probably knows my groundwater has been contaminated with methane. gets a lot of people in this room with contamination and pollution issues so who then is responsible to me for that that loss of my welfare if it's not you the gas commission if a whale is drilled next year rosen's near your residence within the legal setbacks and there's a perceived or real impact on your property value we don't address that in two
thousand and one gas wells were drilled using the fracking technique a mere five hundred feet from the amos home. underground the drilling breached their water well causing their drinking water to fill with gray sediment and fit is like soda pop. the colorado oil and gas conservation commission tested the water well and found methane but said it was safe but they warned the amos's to keep a window open so the methane gas wouldn't build up and cause an explosion in their home they amos's stopped drinking the water but continued to bathe in it she later found out that a chemical that had been used in the two thousand and one fracking has been linked to adrenal gland tumors. when she went to end canada they denied using it on that well or any other months later the oil and gas commission admitted that it had been
used after all. after years of mounting medical bills devalued property and diminishing options laura agreed to a monetary settlement with and can a corpse. the company responsible for her problems. the settlement stipulated she stop telling her story publicly which is why she was not interviewed for this film many family stories like hers will never be told because of company settlements that require silence. let's go around the trampoline in spite of the well explosion and fire. his stage in her house surrounded by her children and grandchildren. this kind of helps me gives me a little more steadiness until i can grab something you know they were doing ok as
long as they were eggs and that weren't there and i was just working a while and you still got smells and that i just couldn't go outside it wasn't in the house but then they brought in the temporary rig because they were having problems with one of the holes i think and then the smells all started up again because they were doing the fracking and it all blows right over here we had one back there behind us we had two on the side here that were all working you know flaring with gas and i have much more after the fire whatever was there or just burned and came right at me you know it was like somebody had just dumped chemicals on me finally i couldn't stand it anymore and monday my husband took me to the emergency room at the hospital. that. yeah they've been pretty sick they've had colds as my girls are.
in fact. limbs as much really bad he's on four different medicines. basically we found that if you were to take all of the chemicals that are used in a particular state always where you see the highest percentage a possible health effects it's always in irritation irritation and blistering sinuses as coauthoring and then this effect called sensitizing it she's good for any skin di still lives on dry hollow road shortly after this interview d's son and daughter in law and their four children moved out of the state when they moved there respiratory problems disappeared. in two thousand and four the bush cheney administration's environmental protection agency asserted that fracturing does not threaten drinking water this was childish
by a thirty year e.p.a. environmental engineer weston wilson acting under protected whistleblower status the former chairman c.e.o. of halliburton dick cheney within a few months of coming into office as vice president he was pressuring the administrators of e.p.a. christie todd whitman to exempt hydraulic fracking from safe drinking water act regulations my own point of view as a technician i just thought it very i'm arming the e.p.a. technically had described how toxic these materials are toxic at the point of injection and still come out with a summary that says they don't need to be reported or regular. and that led me in the fall of zero four to object on technical grounds then the inspector general of e.p.a. began an investigation of my complaints. and. several
months into that congress took the report from e.p.a. saying that fracking did not present a risk. along with other information and exempted hydraulic fracking from regulation under the safe drinking water act that leaves you and i as the american public in this position we cannot know what the industry injects in our land we it is exempt from being reported. down the colorado river about nine miles to the west of silt is the town of rifle.
fully. employed thought through. this is only needed one was. this is before. the right this is in three. hundred years. it's been the worst fifteen years. i'm fifty four fifty nine. years. in one nine hundred ninety three chris and steve decided to leave california to move to colorado we both got laid off from our work because we both volunteered to be laid off because we wanted to get out of california move to colorado where it was beautiful and clean air and clean water
they found themselves in garfield county looking for a new home there's chris. one thousand nine hundred ninety five they bought their dream house a fixer upper in a rural neighborhood outside. we have a love with that place and we plan to stay there for a while it was shortly after chris and steve moved in the drilling rigs began to appear on some of their neighbors land and in the surrounding hills. everything terri. crisp would get in the shower. her skin turned bright red i think. it hurt her skin it was burning fire she was. steve began to develop symptoms as well i feel dizzy. i give. chris's health began to deteriorate rapidly she began losing her sight had severe headaches and
had pain in her hands and feet there were two surgeries to remove a pituitary tumor and she developed a rare neurological speech impairment but i think i think i got to say all this a. place. i've had several patients who have. been . having symptoms since the time were exposed to oil and gas exploration near their homes these are all people in a small cluster around rifle. last year e.p.a. got several citizens requests from garfield county and the citizens were saying gosh my drinking water might be contaminated by this practice or the air we breathe might be affected e.p.a. can you look into it e.p.a. should of. myself and another staff person we had prepared the letters and we were we were ready to write to the colorado oil and gas commission that we felt that
this practice cause him in a substantial risk to public drinking water source and that e.p.a. was going to take over the investigation however soon as we got that to our political appointee supervisors they canceled that investigation so e.p.a. did not investigate legitimate complaints from citizens in garfield county. if you lived in or in a rural residential area and you were in a low lying area your house was in a low lying area that could accumulate these gases when they come off the tank battery and so forth you may be breathing those for twelve hours a day one of the concerns of the agency with respect to the oil and gas industry is how much volatile organic carbon how much volatile gases come from the industry especially from storage of oil or storage of gas. last
summer in an effort to track down how much volatile organic carbon was coming from the oil and gas industry a unique study was undertaken by u.p.a. and e.p.a. brought in some infrared cameras. and turned them towards these oil and gas facilities under infrared light. the volatile organic commissions were visible. they looked like a. mirage. and so one could see in this in for a good read cameron the amount of old organic carbon coming off these storage tanks . every well is drilled into a strait and it has organic chemicals. oil is a mixture of these very heavy organics but it's a range from these kind of greasy very heavy oily stuff to stuff which is quite good all of those materials evaporate very quickly all of those are potentially
toxic but we don't know to what extent. many of them are dangerous ethylene for instance is converted to humans to ethylene oxide and ethylene outside is a carcinogen. besides the drilling in their immediate neighborhood christene stever directly down window what was becoming a major drilling field exposing them to even higher levels of airborne toxins. another source of possible exposure was a waste water treatment facility located across the river from their home. in one nine hundred ninety seven as chris's symptoms were getting worse a water well near them of baldy's was blown out and contaminated by drilling. according to state records on september fifteenth one thousand nine hundred ninety seven barrett resources lost well control while drilling the burned clogged gas well the gas companies came out and told everybody not to drink the water and they
actually started delivering water to us then they came back and told us that your water safe to drink so we started drinking the water. when the exposure is through a water pathway people are usually given an alternate drinking water supply you don't think of it but there are a lot of sources of water vapor in the house your dishwasher every time you flush the toilet and you breathe it in. through your skin your dose of the volatile organic compounds from the shower water will be several times the dose you would have gotten from drinking water after we started thinking. the water. there was like a little oil. in desperation chris and steve moved to grand junction colorado abandoning their home and a place that had been there during. you know.
four hundred forty thousand dollars and we just walked away from. there are no official statistics tracking people who have moved away. because of the effects of gas on oil development. in the two colorado communities profiled in this film the impact has been profound. there is a record of at least nine dry hollow families who formally complained about the drilling and they have moved away. some were afraid some were sick all were exhausted by their fight with the industry. chris and steve have seen the same thing in their neighborhood in rifle i think almost all of our neighbors. and all the people that occupy the house are all people that work for the world.
there's a growing resistance on the part of people who live in the path of drilling. say that living with this development has affected our lives in nearly every way imaginable with their recourse some landowners have become activists. i think there's no question that people are getting sick from the environmental effects of gas exploration and production throughout the united states and what's striking is when you ask them what their symptoms are it's the same one area. that
is in another area. states like new mexico and colorado are caught between intense pressure from. the federal government to lease more land for drilling and the desire to protect the land and their citizens. in june of two thousand and seven newly elected colorado governor bill ritter was faced with a critical confrontation with the bureau of land management an agency of the interior parts they had authorized more than fifteen hundred new gas wells on the road plateau one of the last pristine areas in garfield county we just started with a very modest request one hundred twenty days for a new administration and we were turned down and we don't think twenty four days is enough for us to be able to really have a thoughtful improved response so there's too much that we don't know for us to be
able to really respond in a very short amount of time so that's why i'm going to push very hard with secretary kept asking grant the governor the request the governor has made of him. in the summer of two thousand and eight in spite of protests from governor ritter and colorado legislators the bureau of land management went ahead with the federal auction of leases on the rhone plateau. the entire top of the plateau fifty five thousand acres was leased nearly fifteen thousand citizens sent protest letters but the bureau found the protests to be without merit and issued the leases anyway our goal is to incidents and zero impact on the environment and. we're not there obviously. we do have injuries we do have. but we try and prevent them and we do the best that we can sign a more dangerous lock across the road anywhere i mean you know it's not oh it's not
any more dangerous as natural gas we're not out in a while or all spills the natural gas wells on them are dangerous. today's hearing will examine loopholes in federal health and environmental protect. that are exploited by the oil and gas industry as children we all learned a basic fairness and we know that it's not just not fair when someone gets to play by different rules than the rest of us. as we learned today there is one set of environmental rules for the oil and gas industry and a different set of rules for the rest of the federal government's got to be involved in that this isn't something that the states can do definitely because chemical testing is expensive states don't have the money would you think it would be hard to find these chemicals if you waited for years to sample them definitely yes why does it do you know why take so long to do the testing. because this isn't
what you traditionally test for are we not doing enough basic research into this we are not there slipping through our safety net truly. there have been many attempts to create more balance between the interests of industry and those of surface owners. due in part to the activism of landowners in colorado and new mexico new legislation was passed in both states giving landowners some new rights but for industry it is still essentially business as usual the pace of new drilling continues to accelerate unabated attempts at regulatory change at the federal level have not been as successful the energy bill that was passed by the house of representatives in two thousand and seven did include additional protections for surface owners when the oil and gas is owned by
the federal government. that those provisions unfortunately did not make it into law. in the spring of two thousand and seven governor bill ritter signed one of the new colorado bills in change the makeup of the state commission that regulates the industry the ceremony was attended by some of the residents of garfield county island boy. these may have. to offer their. house bill thirty forty one maybe one of the most significant things that we accomplished in this legislative session to reorganize the current oil and gas cuts of fish commission we believe it brings a better balance to the commission so that's not dominated by any one interest group but we're every responsible as we move forward going to be mindful of the impact is the number of drilling applications climb as the number of effect plates
climb as well. half of the state of colorado or more. sits above the gas bearing zone. and so. this is an issue that will be with us for many many years to come in the decisions that we make today are going to define. how this will all. transpire over the next twenty years. the fact that today we have close to five thousand wells have been drilled in the northwestern area and if you down the road fifteen years and you see the plating sixty thousand wells sixty thousand wells. williams is going to have kerry actually declined to participate in your project.
you know that. video and radio. to them at this particular point i don't know if you went to the best in your endeavor and thank you for your consideration. as in the rocky mountains the growth of domestic drilling is beginning to impact people and places across america in ways never imagined oil companies are seeking new leases in thirty two states since nineteen ninety hundreds of thousands of new wells have been drilled and the pace of development is excel or. incredibly drilling is now planned in the new york city watershed which provides
drinking water to millions. but some feel it doesn't have to be this way. technology is available for industry to comply with all these laws and to conduct their business in a much cleaner way it's often affordable and it's often profitable we can make them do it better the profits now in the industry are so high that there's no reason why they can't start using some new technology develop the new technology to capture the escaping gases the b.o.c. but also to do something with that water. when they capture these has to substances they can also capture more of their saleable product we need data. we need data on humans we need a population. that requires again money
a plan you know doing. this for alternatives in this does serve the country through alternative energy we all use energy we all know we need energy there was better ways we could do energy and i'd like to see us move towards a clean energy future what's most important is for. congress to close these loopholes and to haul the oil and gas industry in the same standards as other industries if the industry waits fifteen years down the road there anyway answering some very hard questions to a jury and to a number of plaintiffs saying you know when it was so inexpensive to put some of these pollution control equipment and practices on your operation why when you knew that there were sicknesses you know why didn't you do it.
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