|Week Forty-Seven August 11 - August 17|
|Entry - 08-17-08
Day 50 of the new seep, and the COGCC continues to defy serious public health and safety concerns despite the new seep being discovered June 28, 2008 in the same region as the massive natural gas blowout in 2004.
COGCC refuses to test soils or ground water for BTEX or toxic metals, such as arsenic, despite the detection of oil-related hydrocarbons in seep soils.
COGCC refuses to test gas escaping from soils where oil-related hydrocarbons were detected.
COGCC refuses to test corrosive material decimating sandstone boulders nearby, and feeding into seep area.
COGCC refuses to acknowledge sudden eruption and subsidence of ground water appearing to feed seep area.
COGCC refuses to acknowledge sudden and prolific appearance of iron-reducing bacteria as an indicator of seep despite identical characteristics from the 2004 event and scientifically known reasons for it's appearance which could link it directly to drilling activities.
COGCC refuses to acknowledge presence of or test the fine clay-like mud found inches below the surface of the seep, which may or may not be drilling mud. If it is drilling mud, it will likely contain polymers.
There is a great deal the COGCC could be doing to determine the scope and cause of this new seep and act in haste to mitigate it. However, through delegated primary jurisdiction and memoranda of agreement, there is little to nothing any other agency can do when the COGCC makes a determination to disregard the public's health and safety. At this point, we are asking the COGCC Commissioners and Garfield County to compel the COGCC to act responsibly and in accordance with legislative mandate.
Despite a certified letter sent to both the COGCC and the Garfield County Commissioners, requesting ground water sampling, it looks like I will have to compile a duplicate presentation and officially petition as a part of the agenda in order to even have a prayer of inspiring the Garfield County Commissioners to protect the citizens of their own county. Because so far, neither they nor the COGCC have responded to the letter.
After the 2004 event, a two-year moratorium was placed on this highly fractured and geologically sensitive area. EnCana Oil and Gas, USA - found to have been responsible for the 2004 blowout - lobbied hard to lift that moratorium. The COGCC lifted it under new stipulations for continued drilling. We believe this seep strongly suggests that the new stipulations are insufficient to protect the public and the environment and therefore, must be revisited.
We are under lease from EnCana and stand to receive significant royalties from the drilling which is allowed to continue. However, we now ask that the COGCC call a cease to nearby drilling activities until such time as the scope of this new seep and its cause can be determined. With prompt and appropriate investigation - this should not unduly hinder operations.
Characteristics of this seep were first noted in 2007 when EnCana Oil and Gas, USA drilled nine new wells from the pad site of the 2004 blowout. Those observations were also discounted by the COGCC as well as EnCana. EnCana continues drilling a short distance from the new seep site as the seep continues, threatening the water well we drink from and downstream communities. EnCana has not contacted us regarding the discovery of the new seep, and, at this point any potential communication should be directed through the COGCC or our County Liaison.
The COGCC continues to mischaracterize this event and stress that this seep is the same event that occurred in 2004. This is a fallacy. Although the 2004 seep continues, and is being - to a diminishing degree - both monitored and remediated. Not only is this seep 2000 feet or so downstream, it is not being monitored or remediated in any way - in fact, it has not even been acknowledged.
EnCana stands to make an estimated 6 Billion dollars from uninterrupted activities near this seep site. As I said, we stand to make money also but this is not about the money. It's about known and serious threats to public health as well as continued environmental degradation.
We would hope that, as an agency enjoying primary jurisdiction over such matters, the COGCC would also find the public's health and pre-industrial condition of West Divide Creek more important. We would hope that EnCana would also take this matter into appropriately serious consideration and examine their activities which - as occurred in 2004 - may have contributed to or caused this event.
I wonder what the appropriate amount of delay is until all environmental evidence is removed from the scene?
The ultimate irony in all of this is that the 2004 blowout was the catalyst that ushered in new legislative mandates directing the COGCC to protect public health and wildlife resources. Now, as a newly discovered and potentially toxic seep creeps into Divide Creek, it's being utterly ignored during those very rule-change deliberations.
I recently found buried in the fine print of the rules "clarifications" issued by COGCC staff, an exemption allowing industry to clean up any contamination caused before September 14,2004 to a lower standard. Of course, the 2004 seep occured in April 2004. Obviously something else happened in September industry doesn't want to be responsible for either. The COGCC needs to remove this exemption.
To compare video of the two events, please visit the sitemap and go to the video section
To view all 6 pages associated with this seep - and view perspective maps, graphics, images and other details, please visit Divide Creek Seep 2008
View a timeline of the 2004 blow-out to date
It’s only bacteria….. COGCC says…..
COGCC efforts appear to continue to try and frame this event as if it were anything but the seep it is. Initially, the COGCC Environmental Manager tried to stress that the black seep was bacterial – but conceded to testing anyway. That first effort to derail inquiry failed as Diesel Range Organics [DROs] were detected in the sample soils. However, BTEX were excluded from the testing even though they are known to be present in DROs. BTEX testing is common in other states when DROs are present in soils. Further, no groundwater was sampled – though it is common in other states to look for BTEX in groundwater when DROs are found in soils nearby.
We have no wetlands expertise…. COGCC says
The orange seep was sampled – even though the COGCC Environmental Manager stressed that this was likely bacterial in nature. Indeed, it proved to be so. However, the COGCC failed to provide an explanation as to why it might have suddenly appeared in profusion and only in one area in association with soil-bound DROs nearby. I asked what changes in the environment might have caused it to liberate and multiply outside normal ranges. They said they were not “wetland managers”. Sadly, the COGCC could not point to a Colorado regulatory resource on wetland management. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment doesn’t even have a wetlands division – despite the scarcity of Colorado’s arguably most precious resource. We now know that CO2 – a common fracing gas – and a gas present in production gas can elevate the Ph of water and create a favorable environment within which these iron-reducing colonies can flourish. This points all the more to a seep caused by drilling. You’d think that the COGCC staff would have been compelled to discuss this issue with the resources they researched and provided - having the supposed expertise to ask intelligent and meaningful questions. But no. They threw it to me to decipher, winning them even more time to delay any further investigation.
It’s only the “main seep”…. No risk of metals contamination the COGCC says….
We also now know that CO2 can mobilize toxic metals that otherwise would remain fixed in the environment, potentially releasing higher than save quantities of compounds like arsenic and fluoride into aquifers and surface water supplies. This is of great concern since this was never revealed to us or, to our knowledge, our neighbors during the 2004 seep. None of us knew we may have been at risk of this type of contamination. In fact, at that time of the ‘04 event, the Environmental Manger stressed that we were only exposed to methane, which she stressed – we manufacture ourselves.
Even more disturbing, the seep from 2004 continues as I write this, and is being remediated at the main seep area. Benzene is still expressing in the ground water. So, we now must ask, what metals are present in that groundwater? Our water well – despite the number of tests having been conducted – hasn’t been tested for arsenic, though it is one of the metals mobilized by the presence of CO2. The COGCC hasn’t required EnCana to test for it. In fact, ours is the only domestic well that draws from Divide Creek and the COGCC failed to include it in any continued monitoring program, so we, ourselves, had to negotiate with EnCana as a part of the mineral lease EnCana pushed for this Spring. We asked for monthly testing, but only managed to get limited quarterly testing which, in 2010 will go to annual.
Did I mention that one major exit point from the 2004 seep was only a few feet upstream from our well, and that the area was not only not tested, but completely ignored as a part of the 2004 seep? Here’s one YouTube link to that event where it occurred on our property and a neighbor’s. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdcQDcps5Oo (I’d put one up of the fizzing in the creek, but most of that video has our neighbor’s voices on it and I cannot air it publically without their permission).
We’ve already tested…… COGCC says…. And there is no evidence of a seep….
Despite all of this, the COGCC has stressed to various agencies which possess any oversight at all – that they have conducted over 70 tests on our property. While this is true – the bulk of them have been from 2004 during that seep event when they were conducting testing generally within the region including on many neighbors’ water wells. The remediation (re-cementing) of the Schwartz well proved successful in mitigating the release – at least as far as we know and certainly as far as we were told by EnCana, Cordilleran and the COGCC – and things on our property appeared to, indeed, return to normal.
The seep found on June 28th, 2008 event occurred nearly three years later – although we believe it may have been present as early as last year when we began detecting visible bubbling in the pond – much like we did during the 2004 event. The COGCC sampled the beaver pond once in early 2007 and now, has recently sampled the seep – collecting 6 vials from the orange seep area and 1 sample from the black seep area. The idea that the COGCC Environmental Manager is using the raw and unquantified number of samples to further some notion of appropriate inquiry is outrageous. Further, she has mischaracterized this event by bundling the two separate events and investigations into a single inquiry suggesting to oversight agencies without sufficient background to be familiar with the history of the 2004 seep or this one, that the two are the same occurrence.
A map, I’ve presented on page 4 of the Seep pages, illustrates differently. The Environmental Manager also pointed out that the COGCC is continuing to monitor the seep suggesting that an even greater number of tests are being conducted for our benefit. When, in fact, the COGCC continues to monitor only a scaled back region of the "main seep", some 2000 feet upstream. As noted, the seep discovered in June of this year has occurred some 2000 feet downstream of the event in 2004. It is a separate event altogether, which only reared when EnCana re-entered the Schwartz site – something of which one of the Environmental Manager’s team said they were not even aware. How is that even possible given the magnitude of the environmental impacts of the 2004 event? What do they talk about over there? The latest brand of buttwipe in the bathroom?
And the end result…. what result?
This strongly suggests – at least to me - a clear and concerted effort to mask not only the seep as a potentially drilling-related event, but also the scope of contamination and its source. Despite the COGCC's obvious presumption that this seep is not drilling related, the COGCC Environmental Manger has made it clear to other agencies that the COGCC still maintains full jurisdiction over the matter. Through the delay of already minimized testing, the COGCC may well succeed at sweeping this event under the rug. And this is a gross dereliction of duty.
That a public official in a position such as the Environmental Manger is in would conduct an investigation is such a way draws into serious question who they are serving: the public or the industry they are supposed to be regulating. Perhaps they are serving only themselves for reasons inexplicable to me.
Our political representatives, municipalities, the County, the COGCC Commissioner’s, the head of the Natural Resources Division, the Department of Health, reporters that cover these ‘isolated’ events, and for sure, the folks in our local communities really ought to start looking at these blow-outs with a keener eye. Operators in this area know this region is highly susceptible to blow-outs because it is “over pressurized” – their term, not mine. Clearly, this event could be demonstrating a need for more stringent drilling practices in order to safeguard our water supplies.
If we don’t want to completely wreck our rare and precious water supply, we’d better take a more comprehensive look at contamination-related drilling impacts not just dewatering, and start forcing public officials - that stand, without meaningful oversight, between billions in industry profits and public safety - to be as accountable as the industry they are purported to regulate.
Too late. The cat is out of the bag….
Despite their best apparent efforts to minimize, curtail and ignore this event in the face of visually observable observations, images and video depicting identical parallels between the 2004 seep and this 2008 seep - the COGCC cannot bury everything.
You might recall when I was given the vision of the word “vertigenesis” nearly a year ago. I knew it was critical to understanding what was happening in our pond, and I knew by its Latin roots that it had something to do with vertical dynamics, and the context in which the word was given was relative to soils. Research lead me to a weakly studied aspect of soil physics, which vaguely discussed movement as it pertained to irrigation. This was frustratingly inconclusive and not being familiar with geology – only intrigued me further. In my discussions with the hydrologist last week, the key to understanding this insight was finally revealed.
It has everything to do with the presence and migration of CO2 through geology – especially water bearing. The CO2 elevates water’s Ph and introduces an environment where iron-reducing bacteria can flourish. This is a major key to detecting a natural gas seep despite the COGCC’s efforts to conceal it. The movement of CO2 also liberates metals that ordinarily remain fixed deep within the geologic lattice, allowing them to migrate into water sources: springs, aquifers, surface water. So, higher than background levels of fluoride, arsenic, manganese – all of these can be indicators of the presence of a natural gas seep.
And where there is a seep – there is a source. If that seep is new, the source probably is to. But, in the case of the 2004 seep, EnCana argued that the seep was as “old as Moses”, and denied any cause whatsoever.
During the 2004 seep, I was given a different vision – it had to do with the work of Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky and his study of the biosphere – specifically, smokepots and calcium domes on the ocean floor. Microbes which consume hydrocarbons leave, when they expire, a calcium record of their existence (similarly, the sudden proliferation of orange gunky microbes, if they persist through time, will leave a record). A simple core sample should reveal their presence over any extended period of time – say, since Moses.
It’s unlikely, however that the sudden appearance of these microbes will leave a record because the ground water associated with the seep seems to be drying out and higher water from the monsoons is rinsing the microbes from the surface soils. COGCC, in their delay may have won time for whoever caused this event to quickly correct it now that the seep can no longer be easily attributed to “biogenic” activity visible only as ‘bubbling’ in a beaver pond. Rightly, there should be great urgency to do so, as it will only benefit the affected environment and hopefully eliminate some or all of what has caused it to degrade.
What remains in the ground water, however, is still the 6-billion dollar question. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps by now, if corrective measure shave been covertly applied, whoever caused this event will have covered it up, robbing us of the opportunity to discover the link between observable environmental degradation and practices which caused or contributed to it. But, I’m a big believer in truth, and, for now, there are still plenty of clues in the soils – like the diesel hydrocarbons, and the fine clay and the corrosive – what is left of it. And of course, the slow-moving groundwater, which still likely contains signature markers of gas which can be traced to a specific well head.
So, we now have two pretty significant keys to detecting a seep: knowing it when we see it by the visually discernable clues, and reasonably disproving its existence over millennia.
Damn, it sure would be easier and faster if COGCC would just do their job.
How jurisdiction gets fractured and delegated to the agency least invested in public health
So, how is it, you may wonder, that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ended up with primary jurisdiction over water quality where oil and gas activities are involved and the CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) has no wetlands program – in a state where such a scarce resource is vital and where most of our water-drinking population dwells along waterways and within water shed basins?
But, did I mention that through a “memoranda of agreement”, the CDPHE “coordinates” with the COGCC to make sure the public’s interests are looked after? I should mention that. It might help you sleep better at night. Yeah, right.
These things happen by design. No department = no budget = no department. It’s hard to justify funding for a non-existent program. Getting such a program in place – or preventing its creation - becomes a pawn in political maneuvering.
Entrenched and polarized powers with agendas to push, axes to grind and lobbying masters to serve maneuver a more favorable position in the furtherance of a legislative proposal with the barter of important political concessions until agreement is reached in the worst kind of trade - the concession of public health. But, this is how jurisdiction becomes fractured, resolution becomes complex and structured ignorance is allowed to flourish.
There is little oversight of the COGCC when it comes to protecting the public’s health. And carefully worded limits have even been placed on the E.P.A. The Environmental Protection Agency only has jurisdiction over “navigable” waters – which are defined as waters of the U.S.
And what about tributaries like streams and creeks? Well, they are the purview of the individual states. And in Colorado, the oil and gas industry made sure a long time ago that what used to be their pet agency has total authority over any water issues where drilling was involved. So, a “spill” which has its own quantitatively restrictive definition and any resulting contamination falls to the COGCC to "oversee". Of course, all of this was easier for industry when there were seven Commissioners – all intimately involved with the oil and gas industry they were supposed to regulate. This is the jurisdictional design and culture we were up against in 2004 when Governor Owens sat at the helm – himself a former oil and gas industry lobbyist. Think that wasn’t fun?
The ultimate irony in all of this is that the 2004 blowout was the catalyst that ushered in new legislative mandates directing the COGCC to protect public health and wildlife resources. Now, as a newly discovered and potentially toxic seep creeps into Divide Creek, it's being utterly ignored during those very rule-change deliberations.
Checks and balances are a vital principal of a healthy democracy. The two party system, electoral system and allowance of organized lobby as the fourth and most powerful arm of capitalistic governance have all acted to undermine this nation’s free will and ability to not only govern itself, but protect and defend its vital interests.
Whether or not intended, the COGCC and industry’s objectives are closely aligned resulting in the potential for big money at any cost and in favor of industry.
Preferential regulation has given industry a free hand, and they know no restraint. No other industry has the kind of opportunity to destroy America’s land and her people. And Industry is taking full advantage. In fact, we subsidize them to do so as American’s struggle to put a gallon of milk on the table and fat cats rake billions off the table. There are better corporations out there – but to implement more costly practices in a ‘big grab’ environment puts those folks at an economic disadvantage. Although, most best practices don't involve any greater cost and even save money in the long run, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt when they whine about "costs" and concede that a few environmental practices might be more expensive. All the more need for standard regulation.... to keep everyone competitive and the rest of us alive.
Wear the white hat an everyone will think you're a good guy
It’s hard to hide from big profits that are flouted in the public’s face. And public perception is a concern for big oil interests, merely because it makes the political climate hostile and challenges industry’s divide and conquer methodologies. So, how can a big corporation avoid being the target of public scorn? Answer: the power of national associations and the nebulous advantage of hiding behind them. These lobbies work for the interests of power players and buy them time as well as legal shields – how? By using agency and public-intimidating tactics like fracturing jurisdiction, contributing to a confusing regulatory atmosphere and carefully eliminating oversight, achieving alliance with the very agencies which are supposed to regulate them, against the public welfare and very people such agencies were intended to serve.
How can this happen? In the Dakotas, in upstate New York, the Flathead region of Montana – all the latest targets of gas and oil development, folks are smitten by the lure of easy money in a tight economy. If I were a conspiracy theorist I’d venture that the latest economic collapse has been orchestrated to coincide with these latest – massive discoveries – and prime a money-hungry public to turn away from sensible environmental protections and sustainable energy options and embrace the ‘savior’ sector of oil and gas. Please. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I do find it a damn interesting coincidence.
How to feed the sheep
Here’s the recipe for warp-speed collusion. It’s known as the Hegelian Principle and helped Hitler rise to power.
1) Create a problem so detrimental that people clamor for a solution
2) Create a solution worse than the problem itself, but which people glom onto because it is a) easy, b) cheap, c) works for now, d) refocuses the problem
3) Step in with your own brand of solution which may in truth be quite detrimental – but seems vastly better than the cure. BAM – you’ve secured yourself a public willing to compromise and further your interests.
So, in this modern era of heightened environmental awareness, how can big oil continue to wield mighty control?
1) Create a dependency and manipulate the markets by controlling the supply. Create a shortage, furthering not only high prices but demand for alternatives .
2) Make the solution seem too unwieldy and distant for Americans to accept: hybrid manufacture, alternative fuels development, etc…. Americans hate sudden change and inconvenience.
3) Present your own solution: offshore drilling and drilling in ANWR. A total ruse – a stay of execution, but a seemingly easy, cheap and ‘appears’-to-work-for-now solution, even though such production is years away!
Brilliant. It really is. On some level I admire the ingenuity of it. But I have a moral compass trained on true north, so I’m not B.S.’ed by it, and I’ve never been impressed by bullies. It’s not the invention of the principal that is bad – it’s the use of it. Like the atom bomb. A brilliant exercise in scientific insight – a hell of a big mistake to unleash it in a world that cannot move beyond bashing one another on the head at the slightest provocation.
When you have a population majority which is uninformed, naïve, apathetic, in need and willing to compromise, and you introduce it to an industry which is aggressive, powerful, manipulative and driven by greed – mutual lust creates sparks of amour and you have instant matrimony. Industry knows this and they leverage it. That’s how they so easily infiltrate a community and divide and conquer it. The population and industry each play to the most urgent and easily met needs of the other – sadly, however, debasing community values and exchanging decent living standards for short-term financial gain – sacrificing all that makes life meaningful and sacred – family, health and home.
I can’t blame corporations for behaving this way. It is spectacularly and effectively strategic – a manipulated leverage of the best of America’s principals and values – so large and complex and nearly beyond the grasp of its masterminds, that it produces a stupefied awe from those who benefit – or at least believe they benefit from its constructs. From a knuckle dragging point of view – it’s down right friggin’ King Kong. And industry lays another lamb at the feet of carnivorous shareholders.
T-Rex gorges at snack-time....
I have a theory that somewhere along the evolutionary line, homeo-sapiens will be found to have split sometime in the early 1970’s. Tofu eaters will have been found to have gone one way and meat eaters the other. Of course, we know that tofu eaters will eventually die out because the predatory mind is physiologically wired to prey upon and dominate the tofu eaters. Sure, tofu eaters have great ideas, produce fabulous art and are better aligned with notions of love and friendship and community (Democrats), but meat eaters (Republicans and their mainstay – the oil and gas industry) have feasted on a steady diet of the vanquished to the point of craving it all the more. This is what drives the industry to lie and bully and pillage. You cannot expect T-Rex to sit quietly and play with others when the others are giving off a scent of vulnerability. They become the focus of snack time. This is why Democrats will never rule the planet. But I digress.
The point is, such behavior decimates not only our environment, but our unique communities and the good, individual people and families that make them up. That’s the core of America – her people, her communities – not corporations. But, a bullshitted public is a submissive and stupefied public. For this, America truly suffers.
And politicians strive to out-yammer one another on their "Energy Plans"
Industry’s cleverly opportunistic creation of an off-shore drilling program at a time when they already posses millions of leased acres that are not being pursued – will tie all available land and waters to the whim of a relentless industry, removing these gems from protected status and leaving them vulnerable to total devastation. I say devastation, because antiquated 1800’s mining laws and preferential regulation allow it. So, the Republican machine and a lot of desperate Democrats further this hollow, shallow policy at a time when a panicked, overworked, clueless public is as ready to hand over the public trust as it was to rush to war in Iraq.
What’s more – and more importantly, it will inspire billions and billions in infrastructure investment. Just one off-shore rig costs 6 billion dollars. So, as the pursuit of oil becomes more and more difficult, it becomes more and more expensive – driving the cost of oil up and driving the market to new heights of greedy frenzy through the furtherance of restricted supply.
All of this adds up to a simple decision for America. To A) either invest in sustainable and less expensive energy as well as domestic economic and energy security through diversity, or B) invest in a failing, increasingly oppressive, and environmentally devastating fossil fuel industry – count nuclear in this arsenal for a variety of obvious reasons like, say, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
Both will shore up the economy through infrastructure investment – particularly since the dollar is down – but outsourcing will have to be eliminated to make this investment profitable to American workers. But option (A) is still better than the other: A 6-billion dollar (resource consuming) rig will eventually deplete the energy source it was created to recover – then it becomes a pelican roost. Investment in wind and solar – well, they just keep on collecting from an inexhaustible source, until they, themselves, exhaust.
That is unless Exxon-Mobile stakes out ownership of the sun - and I really don't see what's stopping them from doing it. Surely their reptilian brains have thought of it. And who is so audacious as to try and make a distinction between Earth and Cosmic chattel? Hasn't Russia rushed to claim the Arctic floor before the caps even melt away? I'm sure EnCana or some other energy giant has got some corporate lawyer lackey willing and capable of such an argument. Again, I digress....
So, the choice between (A) and (B) is very clear. And the choice is simple, but the oil and gas industry is investing tons of subsidized money in campaigning to a lethargic and hungry public naturally inclined to move toward what is perceived to be easy and comfortable, avoiding what is perceived to be challenging and uncomfortable.
All that’s happening is America is being B.S.ed by big oil - again, and the politics of public health will determine how and even whether the next generation shall fare.
Meanwhile – here’s how to detect a line of BS in case you’re ever fed one.
Mechanics of a Cover-up 101
1) Ignore the event.
2) Attribute the event to other causes.
3) Isolate it from other events or link it to other events – whichever is more suitable to a favorable outcome.
4) Recognize the event selectively, thereby artificially containing the scope of the event.
5) Do not volunteer any information you may know about the event or its cause.
Delay any testing, thereby creating an opportunity to correct without
7) Conduct only minimal testing – with a focus on those which yield only inconclusive results creating an opportunity for plausible denial, as well as further opportunity to correct without further detection.
8) Disregard unfavorable results through technicality.
9) Complicate, confuse or disassociate the context in which unfavorable results are viewed, introducing the perception of multiple causes and therefore even more opportunity for plausible denial.
10) Make unfavorable results inaccessible by the majority and available only through subpoena.
11) Conduct a counter-campaign which alleges that efforts are opposite what they actually are and force potential protagonists to prove otherwise.
12) Where any genuine effort is occurring and results are either minimally unfavorable or favorable, over-emphasis its importance and accept, if necessary, a modicum of minor blame. Blame is particularly acceptable when simple and inexpensive measures can be taken to correct what has failed, or, can further the appearance of “making things right”. Accepting blame is unacceptable, under any circumstances, if it may lead to a precedent.
13) Stress the validity of favorable results and frame them within a context that furthers positive public assumption.
14) Draw official inquiry to a close as quickly as possible and create a public information campaign which emphasizes proactive involvement, an acceptance of blame and extraordinary measures to placate an “unreasonably” wary public.
Place all of this under an umbrella of….
Divided and Conquered Accountability
1) General, fractured jurisdiction over public health and safety accountability – creating confusion among agencies and introducing the risk of litigation over the inappropriate exercise of authority.
2) Sole jurisdiction of potentially harmful findings within an agency with conflicting mandate and motive – creating opportunities to influence the outcome of official inquiry.
3) Limited oversight – Isolating influence and protecting it from competing pubic health and safety interests.
4) Secure political influence with financial contributions and a well-organized and well-funded lobby.
5) Under regulation – allowing an inappropriately significant disruption to status quo before official inquiry ever begins - and providing an importantly larger margin of error for mishap.
6) Unenforceable regulation – preventing sole-jurisdictional oversight through insufficient funding and staffing resources.
Divided and Conquered Community
Invest strategically in a community you intend to disrupt by building community-sought-after and financially bound allegiances not easily broken.
potential protagonists by isolating their concerns and framing them as
“crack-pot” or “counter-community”. Draw into questions their character and
credibility while emphasizing perceived threats to economic alliances which
their concerns appear to pose.
This is “damage control” folks, and I wouldn’t recognize it myself if I hadn’t experienced it to one degree or another.
Some would argue that a cover up has to be intentional, and simply being ignorant doesn’t mean that anyone is covering anything up. Yes, ignorance is bliss as they say. But a concerted effort to preserve ignorance suggests at least an inclination toward broader knowledge – enough to work to avoid it. And that is done with intent based on a broader awareness. In other words, to keep from knowing something, you have to already know it, and then specifically avoid it. That’s why professionals have to engage in continuing education certification – to avoid this tendency toward blissful ignorance.
Which leads me to....
Entry - 08-12-08
More update details are coming soon, but I am sad to report that of the few birds we have left on the mountain, we have found three dead in the past week. None showed any signs of trauma and two were found dead in the water fountain - a dove and a finch. It is possible they perished from Wet Nile virus. However, in 2004 we experienced the exact same thing when a dove killed over at the fountain's edge - but not in the water. Two of the birds found recently were found in the water which could suggest fever and exhaustion - signs of West Nile. The third bird, however, was found near the woods - another occurrence of what we observed in 2004.
As noted in other posts, other anomalies we saw in 2004 and are seeing again are beak deformities and bulging eyes.
In the years prior to 2004 and between then and now we haven't had this type of occurrence, so seeing it again in concurrence with our other observations of the seep raises serious concerns. We collected two of the birds (both from the water), placed them in the freezer and will call the DOW today.
Agency frustration - no one answers
Yesterday evening we found these big black spots on the ground that looked a lot like oil had come up through the ground and killed the vegetation. Our instinct was to only photograph the scene and not disturb the evidence, but the hydrologist said "dig it up - some of it anyway - and see how far down it goes." This was great advice because we otherwise would not have guessed that it wasn't oil at all - at least as far as what appeared as staining the ground. What it is - however - is crispy-fried vegetation. What is really weird is that the die-off is black - like it's been soaked in oil, and it's only affected some plants in one area. We've never before seen this type of die-off. Normally, the dead thatch is brown and eventually grey - never black. But I lifted the mat of plant matter and it was crispy and totally black - the ground beneath it appeared normal. Weird, but it may be indicative of oil-type components (maybe DRO's) moving into the plant from the roots. It remains to be seen. This find is not all that surprising given that so much other vegetation continues to struggle and die.
Here is a dark spot close up [08-12-08]
Here, the spots progress in a kind of zig-zag pattern through a contained area maybe 15 feet by 20 feet. Unfortunately, this weird die-off and whatever caused it is only ten feet or so from our water well. It definitely suggests a broader area of impact - but so does all the rest of the die-off. [08-12-08]
The beaver family has built a new little dam up stream
of the Turkey Point pond since the last update, but I didn't see the family
down a Turkey Point on our Tuesday or Thursday visit. I did see a muskrat on
Thursday though. This is not a good sign, since muskrats often move into
abandoned beaver dwellings. It would just suck if the Beaver folk have gone.
But, with the bubbling in their pond, the vegetation die-off, the weird
stuff - the birds having left.... maybe they had to go too. I hope we see
them again. I hate this.
Update: 08-13-08 - EPA Takes The Reins....
I got a call this morning from the EPA. They're getting involved. Finally. I don't know what their plans are or their timetable for achieving them, but this appears to at least be an exercise of their oversight authority.
Unfortunately, our county has been less inspired to
action. They have not responded to my letter, so I will have to duplicate
the contents of my letter in a formal presentation as an "agenda" item
Monday the 18th. How sad to have to jump through such hoops - again probably
only to be ignored, but when two of the three County Commissioners are
pro-industry as evidenced by a private meeting with industry long ago and
their voting records ever since these are the kinds of hoops you have to
jump through when you have the audacity to ask for safe drinking water. Man,
this county needs some leadership. I would have run myself in this election,
but a pile of Democrats freaked out for fear I would dilute the vote and a
'dreaded' Republican would get in. And they had a point. We've seen how
badly a Republican majority has trashed this county. Use by right man camps
is just the latest landowner rights giveaway. You may recall I am a dyed in
the wool Independent. I hope Democrat, Steve Bershenyi can turn things
around, he at least called and has expressed some interest in what is going
on - and he's only a candidate.
Remember, these two ponds caught the upwelling expression of groundwater - and whatever was in it at the time. They also, periodically mingle with surface waters from the creek when it is higher. Predominantly, however, their contents were fed by the upwelling for a period of nearly two months.
So, two things stand out : 1) the nature of this black stuff.... it is foul smelling and also very black - nearly blue. As you can see by the tip of the rock (left top) it clings to the rock almost like latex paint.
The other thing that stood out was the nature of the mud. It is extremely fine and viscous. It also has a kind of plastic feel - with firm, yet malleable tensile characteristics. Both of these visual phenomenon are like none we've ever seen in the twenty years we've lived here. As a potter, I have dug clay myself, and I've not only never seen it so near the surface, it is usually striated with minerals and other organics. Nor have I ever worked with even slip (very wet clay used as a glue) with these kids of properties. This stuff appeared almost homogenized and emulsified. I've worked with natural oils and water before, and in order to keep them from separating, you have to add an emulsifying agent. And although this black stuff appears to be layered separately from the clay mud - it seems willing to mix with water and other materials in the mix, suggesting the presence of an emulsifier. What we think we may be seeing is drilling mud that has communicated with the surface through a fissure. More disturbing still is that if drilling mud communicated - and who knows what might be in that which companies are not required to disclose, then fracing fluids also could be present - of which there are hosts of other micron-sized natural and synthetic chemicals that again don't have to be disclosed. Such as occurrence could also explain the corrosive which well might be acid-related residue. Of some of the many things used in these fluids are: solvents, bactericides, surfactants, anti-corrosive agents, polymers, the list goes on. Radioactive isotopes are even used to check well integrity. CO2 is often used to frac which can move arsenic and other toxic metals. into the picture.
I can tell you one thing. This is big-time, folks. And the COGCC's adamant stance against proper investigation suggests strongly they are actively working to conceal the truth - but what, why and to who's benefit can only be guessed. That EnCana hasn't acted to express any concern, though it could well be their own operations which have caused this.... sadly typical. Have we received that promised list of fracing fluids? No.
God only knows what my family and anyone else walking around in this area has been exposed to.
Entry - 08-13-08
EnCana has asked the state to reduce the amount of testing in association with the 2004 seep. I think this is inappropriate not only because we do not know what kinds of metals may be present in association with the seep, but also because the latest seep appears to be in some way connected. The iron-reducing bacteria went into overdrive on the banks where groundwater springs came to the surface in the "main seep" area.
Of course, the less known about contamination the better -at least from industry's point of view.
They've already won an exemption written into recent
"clarification" language that holds any contamination present before
September 14, 2004 to a lesser clean-up standard. The COGCC is allowing this
standard - including exposure to arsenic in the groundwater - to be put in
place without even knowing if arsenic is present from the 2004 seep. They've
never had it tested, even though there is a strong likelihood it is
present. You know, I cannot see this kind of flagrant disregard for the
public's health as anything but sinister, and it is an outrage that it is
The best and most beautiful things
cannot be seen or touched -
For my friend and her dear companion, Bandit - a steadfast, fallen soldier
All contents of this site, unless
otherwise noted are copyrighted by Lisa Bracken, 2007-2008. All rights are