March 09, 2004 The day the
earth shook.... from a massive gas kick at the 'Arbaney' well that
Three weeks later, a 115 million cubic feet blow out of natural gas followed at the 'Schwartz' well.
During that 2004 seep, EnCana had failed to re-cement a well which lost circulation (dropping thousands of feet of well-bore cement presumably into an underground fault). They failed to re-cement the well then went ahead and fracked it anyway, without telling anyone what they had done.
After the seep was discovered, too late for my father who already drank the water, EnCana was ordered to re-cement the well. Failed cementing is often cited as the sole reason behind instances where ground water appears to have been contaminated by drilling and fracking operations. Unfortunately, these instances are becoming increasingly common across the US and internationally.
EnCana re-cemented the well, and the seep eased off, maybe 80 percent. However, regardless of cementing which was presumed to have sealed the leaking well, the remainder of the seep continues unabated, pumping benzene far in excess of state allowances (and possibly fracking chemicals) into the ground water of West Divide Creek. The COGCC (Colorado Oil and gas Conservation Commission), the EPA, not even EnCana can explain why the seep continues, even as fracking looms as the prime suspect. We cannot know about the fracking chemicals because federal and state laws protect EnCana from disclosing them.
A short moratorium followed the 2004 seep, but was soon lifted under pressure from EnCana and other operators to continue drilling.
In 2008 a second seep emerged. This time, however, the COGCC, under new director, Dave Neslin, and under new Democratic Governor, Ritter, turned away refusing to investigate until years later. Finally, in 2010, upon an initial effort to investigate the 2008 seep (without ever actually acknowledging it) production gas containing methane, propane, butane, ethane and pentane was found to have emerged in new areas of West Divide Creek as well as within a neighbor's water well.
While initially promising, that investigation fell completely silent upon a third party's engineering review of suspect area wells (all of which have been fracked). Finally, almost a year later and after the COGCC subjected the original report to at least four different interpretations for purposes of four different presentations to four different entities (BLM, EPA, COGCC and a handful of landowners), the report was released.
Pushed as a tool of justification, the report (without benefit of a ground and surface water review or an environmental review) formed the basis of the COGCC's decision to allow EnCana to drill directly into the existing and still unexplained 2004 / 2008 hydro-geologic seep structure. Why is this important? Because - like the 2004 "investigation" the 2010 "investigation" was once again inappropriately narrowed in scope excluding incredibly telling components of operational failure including hydrology, surface impacts and the role of the 800 pound gorilla in the room... hydraulic fracturing. The investigation concluded prematurely and it remains incomplete - reflecting the COGCC's habitual pattern of insufficient and narrowly addressed inquiry.
It is this inappropriate analysis coupled with EnCana's aggressive and heedless disregard for consequence which has produced avoidable catastrophe after avoidable catastrophe along West Divide Creek... and impacting all downstream water users.
With the blessing of the COGCC, EnCana is now pillaging the remainder of West Divide Creek by drilling into and exploiting a fragile and sensitive watershed, already hemorrhaging benzene. Click here for the visuals. Drilling began January 9th, 2012... oh, incidentally... less than a month later, as reported by the magazine YellowScene, COGCC's Director, Dave Neslin, left his post to work for a law firm which represents EnCana.
Despite the continuing, unexplained 2004 and 2008 seeps meeting every criteria for the EPA's new hydraulic fracturing study, the region was excluded as an area of interest. It had been scheduled as "Case Study Number 2"... that is, until the study's overly political advisory panel persuaded the EPA to excise it from the study. Why not study the only known case in the US where hydraulic fracturing was directly implicated in a massive blowout that continues unexplained to this day? Perhaps because of what it might reveal which can be neither fixed nor defended and which might actually curtail the heedless, aggressive pursuit of natural gas across the country together with its infrastructural development as the new oil.
This website stands at a testament to truth. Around the world, money can indeed buy a lot of silent studies, skewed science, quieted victims and greased policy. But, here, truth rings as loud and clear as the wailing rivers, mountains and skies of Summerhawk Valley.
My home, Summerhawk Valley, is sacred ground to the Utes who lived and hunted here. It was also recently host and home to an incredibly diverse and robust population of animals native to Western Colorado... animals like, bear, badger, coyote, cougar, elk, deer, bald and golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, wild turkey, cranes, songbirds and leopard frogs. Since the natural gas seep in 2004 and the second one in 2008, these animal populations have taken hit after hit. I've found birds, rabbits, frogs and insects dead, dying and paralyzed. I've seen barren seasons when elk did not calve, and I've seen an aborted deer fetus lying in the ditch.
This land will always be sacred to me.
On August 20, 2010
EnCana put up a rig adjacent to and
above the still uninvestigated and persisting 2008 seep and drilled fifteen
The rig stands near the leftish top third of the photo above... just beneath
the first mesa. It is a long, thin white line, barely visible.
A photo showing relative positioning of the rig and the 2008 seep can be seen
As early as eighty years ago, Utes were still scaffolded upon their transition into the spirit world, here, where I stood on the rim of the canyon to take this photograph, and where I often stand to pray.
While I endeavor to relocate from this now toxic
but still sacred place, I will not abandon it, for it has sustained me
in myriad ways. It is my hope to one day open my home, the home Blackcloud
built himself, to students. So that whether their interest is science,
spirituality, or both, they can stay and study this impacted but incredibly
resilient valley and strengthen themselves from its lessons.
My father, Robert Blackcloud, was an avid outdoorsman and survivalist. He was also a former Recon Marine and Viet Nam veteran. An investigator for the Justice Department. A cowboy and an Indian. An artist, naturopath and spiritual leader. All that and then some.
He loved Summerhawk. It spoke to his heart like it does mine.
He died of pancreatic cancer two years after consuming water from West Divide Creek that was later found to have been tainted with benzene.
He was the sharpest, toughest man I've ever met, and there is no doubt in my mind, death hasn't slowed him down at all. Just changed the nature of the game a little. Like he always said: "Improvise, Adapt and Overcome."
He's the guy you may have seen lighting the creek on fire in the film Gasland. That creek, by the way, West Divide Creek... runs through Summerhawk Valley. It's the creek he drank from before he died.
The COGCC posted a "Gasland correction document" on the state's website wherein they attempted to discredit our reports of impacts to West Divide Creek. Since that time (though it has indeed taken several years to get there) science has shown every claim to be true. Nonetheless, the COGCC has not "corrected" its error. After a decade of our relentless efforts to broaden knowledge regarding the devastation of West Divide Creek, it has become apparent that truth simply doesn't serve the COGCC's apparent priority mission to promote the natural gas industry. It therefore remains denied, ignored, mischaracterized and minimized.
This site is dedicated to
truth as it stands: stark, complete, genuine and telling. It is also
dedicated to my family and all families struggling to preserve their basic
human rights and freedoms in a time when our Constitution is considered
irrelevant, truth is seen as a lie and science is twisted as a
mechanism of manipulation.
He stands with us still....
Meet Frank the Fracked
Fracking's New Poster Dude
Worried about FRACKING?
Earlier in 2011, the natural gas industry unleashed a 'friendly fracasaurus' on East Coast kids in the form of a coloring book explaining the happy, joyful, benign nature of hydraulic fracturing.
I figured, those who suspect differently needed their own poser dude, so here he is.
Frank the Fracked.
Fracked Frank, lives on West Divide Creek, Colorado... and site of one of the biggest, fracked-up blow-outs in North American natural gas drilling history.
Frank has his own ideas about what's up with fracking, and after years of discovery and deduction inclusive of field observations, industry interviews and thorough review of stacks of multi-sourced reports in the fields of geology, hydrology, biology, physics, chemistry and engineering, he's happy to share them with you here.
Regardless of contradictory, skewed and misleading reports and positions from sources with agendas to preserve and advance, only one, cohesive scientific theory emerges... and its pretty hard to ignore or mischaracterize. You can bet I tell it like I see it - well, with Frank's help of course.
Trying to keep from being fracked yourself? Already been fracked?
For less than a dollar, take control with the tools to stand tall. To the point and very thorough, this comprehensive guide to resolving conflict by evolving it is aptly called: You And What Army? How to Neutralize Conflict and Negotiate Justice for the Totally Outgunned, Inwardly Timid, Burnt Out or Socially Defunct
An eight-year project finally completed in 2011 and utilized by universities internationally, it applies to far more than injustice in the gas fields. You can find both the physical book or the e-book (e-book is .99 cents) on Amazon. The physical book can also be ordered through any US bookseller (ISBN: 978-0-9664505-8-3). Here's the Amazon link
Main links within this site
Fracked Frank's Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracing / Fracking) Primer
Divide Creek Seep 2008 - An astonishing and on-going chronology of total regulatory failure and silenced investigation.
Updates Only a year after the 2004 blowout and the resulting moratorium was lifted, EnCana proceeds to drill 80 new wells within a mile of my home. By January 2012, all but 9 are in... and so is a new seep...
Mean Energy - Sure, industry brings a few jobs to impacted regions, but they bring a heck of a lot else. See what can happen to individuals, the environment, communities and economic diversity when the boom hits.
Site Map - The sitemap is strongly recommended since this site has been added to like a poorly planned remodel... which is what -- under the pressure of continuous impact and adaptation -- it has become.
All contents of this site, unless
otherwise noted are copyright © 2007-2012 by Lisa Bracken.