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Aaron Jerad
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Hotchkiss, Colorado, United States
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Cold Temperate
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Keep gas wells out of Delta County.

Posted by Aaron Jerad about 12 years ago

A letter to the Bureau of Land Management... against natural gas leases near my home.

Aaron Jerad

Hotchkiss, CO 81419

August 2012 Lease Sale

Uncompahgre Field Office

2465 South Townsend Avenue

Montrose, CO 81401


To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing in regards to the proposed August 2012 Oil and Gas Lease Sale: 22 parcels totaling approximately 30,000 acres in Gunnison and Delta Counties; Portions of T11S/R90W, T12S/R89W, T13S/R89-92W, T14S/R90-92W, T15S/R91-92W 6th PM. This proposal affects all who use the public lands in which these leases are located, including: hunting, biking, hiking, fishing, or just sight seeing.

There are several areas of concern for me regarding these leases:

1) Degradation of the public land on which these leases occur.

2) Pollution of ground and surface water sources.

3) Air pollution.

4) Traffic and safety.

First, it is my understanding that your current Resource Management Plan in the Uncompahgre Field Office was approved in 1989, 22 years ago. (It also may have left out consideration for the fracking process that accompanies natural gas development.) I was born and grew up in the North Fork Valley, and I can assure you that a lot has changed here since 1989. Small to medium farms, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and orchards have multiplied, the region has been discovered as a prime grape growing area by viticulturalists and wineries now abound. High-end tourism is growing, in addition to the already established influx of hunters, cyclists, fisherman, hikers, and sight-seers that appreciate the Valley's beauty and access to public land. Families are drawn here by the people, the safety, clean air and good food to raise their children.

I urge you to suspend all leasing in this area until you update your Resource Management Plan to reflect the current conditions here in the North Fork Valley including: new hiking and biking trails, irrigation systems, wells, springs, new housing developments, farms, vinyards and schools. Things can change fast and the old RMP is outdated.

If for some reason you choose to move forward without updating your Resource Management Plan, then a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), not simply an Environmental Assessment (EA) is needed. According to the map provided by the BLM, significant parcels of land are immediately adjacent to the communities of Hotchkiss, Crawford and Paonia, including the Hotchkiss High School (lease 6202). This demands a comprehensive environmental review.

In addition, the date for public comments on these leases should be extended from January 9 to February 9. Many people are engaged in the holidays and we need more time to comment. Also a public hearing, not just an open house, must be held to accept public comment for the record. This affects all the community’s citizens and we deserve to be heard. (NOTE: THEY EXTENDED THE DEADLINE FOR COMMENT!!!)

For me personally, parcels 6191, 6195 and 6196 are directly above my families property and span the water shed including Jay Creek which feeds our irrigation sources: the Farmers' Ditch and Fire Mountain Canal. Any pollution of these water sources and the Paonia Reservoir, or North Fork of the Gunnison River would threaten our ability to farm, not to mention all our neighbors and friends.

The small road which passes by our property is used not only for transportation, but for biking, horses, jogging, and walking with children and dogs. If multiple large trucks begin using this road to access the drilling sites the rural atmosphere will be shattered and become more dangerous and polluted.

A friend (who requested to stay ananymous) who works with the Fire Department, reported that once a week around the Rifle natural gas wells there is some kind of trucking accident or spill that requires the HazMat team to be called for cleanup.

Here is a news report from one such incident on Dec 11, 2011:


According to the Grand Junction Fire Department, whose hazmat team originally responded to the site, the fluid being carried by the tanker was Glutaraldehyde. That is a biocide used in metalworking fluids and in oil and gas pipelines, according to the Centers for Disease Control's website.

Colorado Department of Transportation spokesperson Nancy Shanks says it's not clear when the cleanup process will be wrapped up. However, at this point, Shank added, it looks like the cleanup will continue for the remainder of the week” -
by KREX News Room

It seems likely that the public land on which these leases are located will become dusty, unusable areas with less wildlife and suitability for recreation and hunting.

Risk of water contamination is real and there are documented cases that support this:

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/drilling-down-documents-7.html#document/p1/a27935


"The E.P.A. concludes that hydraulic fracturing can lead to pollution of groundwater supplies. Further, the agency cites an example from West Virginia in which fracturing fluid migrated from a natural gas well to a water well owned by James Parsons, making it unfit to drink. " - New York Times

I am doubtfull that the Resource Management Plan or the Natural Gas Company knows the locations of the aquafers and wells, either in use or out of use of this area.

Parcel 6190 is directly adjacent to the town of Paonia and has become a regular hiking and biking area for myself and many others. Parcel 6202 is next to the Hotchkiss High School. These are just a couple examples that demonstrate the issue at hand.

It has also come to my attention that natural gas drilling in Wyoming has led to unprecedented increases in air pollution, this is an issue largely overlooked and under-regulated when it comes to drilling natural gas. Air quality can not be linked to one specific lease or another and as such is difficult to directly protest, however when a rural community such as Pinedale, Wyoming experiences Los Angles caliber air pollution it is reason to take notice and suspend new leases until full Environmental Impact is understood.

I offer several news articles in support of air quality issues, including one in the New York Times:


Pinedale... " has also been the stage set for the worst ozone pollution event here in three years — in one of the places people might least expect." - New York Times.


Gas production already has caused unhealthy air in Wyoming's Sublette County and Utah's Uintah Basin.” -National Public Radio


Folks who live near the gas fields in the western part of this outdoorsy state are complaining of watery eyes, shortness of breath and bloody noses because of ozone levels that have exceeded what people in L.A. and other major cities wheeze through on their worst pollution days. “ - Huffington post.


The public land surrounding these communities is highly valued for its recreational uses, not just by local inhabitants but by visitors, friends and family. It is one of the reasons people choose to live and visit here. If oil and gas wells are opened so close to these communities, property values will plummet, our health will be at risk and the simple, beautiful life that so many people moved to the Western Slope of Colorado will be lost. Having oil and gas drilling in the proposed area is a direct threat to our lifestlye, clean air and water.

Please consider the future of these rural communities and take the actions I have recommended or simply suspend outright all leases and sales of the land in question.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.




Aaron Jerad

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