Saturday, December 8, 2012

Colorado Springs: Latest Front in Fracking War

In an earlier blog, I warned that in the new energy environment nationally assorted communities and localities were going nuts by handing out fracking permits like candy. I noted this ought to worry any sensible citizen given the risk of spewing carcinogenic chemicals into the water supply. ("Fracking" or hydraulic fracturing involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground to free up oil and natural gas. In the process, the millions of gallons of water used are irretrievably contaminated).

Like prostate, pancreatic, breast and liver cancers? Then you will LOVE fracking! Love the thought of spending tens of thousands for cancer treatments - see my own documentation of my cancer issues - then you will embrace fracking as the be all and energy end all.

Among the choice chemicals injected into the water supply are the following:

*Benzene,, a powerful bone-marrow poison (aplastic anemia) associated with leukemia, breast and uterine cancer. It may also cause fatigue, skin and mucous membrane irritation, and narcotic behavior including lightheadedness, disorientation, loss of consciousness and coma.

• Styrene, which may cause eye and mucous membrane irritation, neurotoxic effects in the central and peripheral nervous systems, loss of consciousness and death.

• Toluene, which may cause muscular incoordination, tremors, hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo, emotional instability and delusions, liver and kidney damage, and anemia — besides potential harm to developing fetuses.

• Xylene, with cancer-causing (mainly in the kidneys, liver) and neurotoxic effects, which can cause reproductive abnormalities and death through respiratory or cardiac arrest. More toxic than benzene and toluene!

• Methylene chloride, which may cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, central nervous system disorders and worse.

Now, barely a week ago, it turns out that the Colorado Springs City Council, by a 6-3 vote,approved of plans for a Houston-based energy company to start fracking in the Springs. Good bye water supply! Hello cancers! (The fundie screwballs must be salivating at the chance to send all of us 'heathen' to 'hell'.)  The vote has set off frantic protests, with local activists seeking a citizen referendum to outright ban fracking as Longmont, CO already has. After all, the citizens ought to have the last say -not the paid off politicos.

Many citizens are infuriated too that in some locations no outright bans are possible only regulation towards what is called "mitigation", i.e. mitigating the potential massive contamination of the water supply.

In other parts of the nation, meanwhile, oil shale drillers are actually grabbing leases offered and setting up wells in neighborhoods! All it takes (as in Ohio) is a majority of the neighbors to sign onto the deal and then it's done. No matter some soreheads from the olden times still wish to preserve a quality of life - -- and being able to sleep without a drill pumping all night long.

What all this means is that Americans have to understand that they face a tradeoff, in either having cheap energy or expensive health costs down the line, and a degraded quality of life. Here in Colorado Springs, the specter or shadow of contamination and cancer now hangs over the mountain community, but we who are activists hope to at least minimize the damage to our water supply  - which is on precarious grounds as it is thanks to the drought. (The past 3 months have been the driest on record).  

People with sense and intelligence are asking why, when the water supply is dwindling as it is from drought, do we wish to squander ever more precious billions of gallons via fracking? One thing for sure, we can do without the added small amounts of energy, we can't do without drinking water!

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