Friday, February 8, 2013

Denver District Court Ruling

The lawsuit which so effectively caught the attention of Shell and the COGCC has disappointingly been ruled against us. The recent article and our comment from the HWJ are below.

The lawsuit raised several important legal issues: 
  • Why did the citizens have to find out about the proposed well on their own?  Why was there no effective means of notifying citizens of proposed wells in their area? 
  • Why doesn't the COGCC do a thorough review of safety and environmental issues before they issue a permit instead of simply accepting what the oil and gas companies tell them? and
  • If the citizens are not satisfied by the COGCC review why are they denied a public hearing even though it is standard for many other matters in the state of Colorado, and the Court of Appeals said there was a right to hearing?

The answer from the Court was that the Judge chose to defer to the COGCC's decision and that we did not have the right to question notice since the citizens managed to find out about the well despite the lack of notice.  Meanwhile the Colorado Supreme Court issued a ruling that the Colorado Court of Appeals was wrong and citizens do not have a right to public hearings for fracking.  We were not satisfied by the answers provided by the Court; however, according to our lawyers, it usually takes a number of cases before the court system is willing to deal with problems in an agency or industry.   We are in the process of deciding whether to appeal, or to use our energy in other arenas.

The judicial review also raised real and reasonable public health and safety concerns with the Klikus well, such as, for two simple/obvious examples, that:
  • The well's frackwater flowback pit sits mere feet above our neighbors' wells' and Middle Creek's water table. Any pit liner leakage or spill will almost certainly effect surface water and ground water.
  • Large quantities of sediments (even big rocks) wash down and move over the site during observed flash flooding events and wash down into Middle Creek.

It remains to be seen what the COGCC and Shell will do, if anything, about the specific issues we raised about the Klikus location. 

We'll be watching...
Article from the Huerfano Journal Jan 31, 2013

CHC Comment in Huerfano Journal Jan 31, 2013

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