Sunday, August 10, 2014

As most of you may have heard already, Shell/SWEPI's attempt to petition for non-tributary status resulted in the State Engineer declining that petition.  Click Here to see the article in the Pueblo Chieftan that highlights the role that Citizens for Huerfano County played in that decision. Congratulations to the CHC board and all of you who continue to help us protect our beautiful, yet delicate environment!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

SWEPI/ SHELL Fails Nontributary Determination Petition

The Colorado State Engineer has written, "Staff reviewed the Petition, Technical Reports, and submitted comments and finds the information provided by the Applicant is insufficient to support a determination that the produced water withdrawn from the Subject Wells completed in the Niobrara Formation is nontributary."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fortune 4-9 Well in Gardner, Colorado Comments

Fortune 4-9 exploratory oil well is being submitted by Shell Oil aka SWEPI using Form 2 application for a drilling permit (APD).  Fortune 4-9 is located near Muddy Creek and Highway 69 a short distance from Gardner, Colorado.
The following comments have been obtained from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) website.  Access to the document is not particularly user friendly, and so we have placed it here for the convenience of concerned citizens.
The print is small so the reader will need to use the control+ keys or apple+ to expand the size.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

With the tourist season here, it is time to take up the pen once again and give a progress report on our winter's work in our county.  We have discovered that one operator who was banned from further mining has nonetheless convinced a major national bank to loan them millions of dollars against their mineral lease portfolio in Huerfano County.  We have learned of another operator who is pulling very dirty carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the earth and piping it to Texas where it is mixed with precious water to scrub oil out of old wells. Then they have the audacity to say that they are sequestering the very same CO2 in these old leaky oil fields and hoping to get carbon credits for the practice.  Meanwhile, another major operator is seeking permission to use the filthy produced water that results from fracturing ancient shale layers into a mush that can be pumped to the surface.  With nontributary approval, they can use this contaminated water to spray on roads for dust control on and off the well sites, and there also are 15 other allowed uses for this water, including reinjecting it into the deep aquifer from which it came. The problem is that the water will have become sullied, that is, mixed with ancient mud, radioactive substances, volatile compounds, drilling lubricants, and fracking chemicals.  We also discovered that only 203 (as of November 2013) voting citizens of Huerfano County are mineral lessors, and the remaining 95% of us will have to live with the mess. There are also upwards of 400 of the 800 mineral lessors from outside the county who are not being taxed for their mineral property holdings in Huerfano County. Not taxed and not registered at the courthouse means clouded titles, lost tax revenues, and possible dubious basis for unitization and pooling schemes. Our concern is that elements of the county government still have open arms for gas and oil operators. This was obvious in The Signature Newspaper Visitor's Guide recently published, wherein the Huerfano County Government invites these environmental miscreants to do business here.  Notably, there was no mention of inviting solar and wind power projects, even though we have established a wind power zone in the eastern part of the county.  We have been circumspect in sharing our findings, first communicating to the county assessor, administrator, commissioners, and planning board.  But we can be silent no longer when we see the welcome mat being put out for gas and oil and all the misery it can bring.  There are better ways to get energy for our lives than fossil fuels.  Let's not destroy the environment and incur cleanup liabilities that boost the real cost of gas and oil far higher than solar and wind energy.  Let's pay for our courthouse expenses with long-term strategies instead of dirty money from oil and gas taxes.  If oil and gas take over here we will need more than a new courthouse complex to repair the damage.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Empassioned 14 year old boy grills COGCC

A good friend of CHC just sent out an email with a video clip about a 14 year old boy from Boulder who challenged the COGCC, and tried to get a state-wide moratorium on fracking in Colorado - Click here to view the video.  He used data from the COGCC website, and put together quite a compelling argument.  If only more of us were this passionate and outspoken about the environmental damage being done in our backyards.  It is very clear what is going on, yet the oil & gas industry continues to put out TV ads and other propaganda about how "safe" fracking is, when it has been proven time and time again to be extremely harmful.  As discouraging as this video may appear, it is only the beginning.  Will it continue to be "more of the same" or will we, as a society begin to wake up, and demand that the democratic process be reestablished?  Please support CHC in keeping the health and environmental damage out of our communities, and restoring democracy in Colorado.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fracking with Real Estate

Nobody prefers pollution over a clean environment. Even the most ardent anti-environmentalist has a cutoff point where they believe environmental contamination is not worth the benefits derived from the activity that creates it.  Though where this line is drawn is a matter of one’s values and opinion, the information that informs this opinion should be factual. An often heard opinion is that Oil & Gas development and fracking is good for Huerfano County’s economy, but this claim is rarely, if ever, supported by a cost benefit analysis factoring in the negatives like noise, toxic fumes, pipelines, increased truck traffic, lights, noxious air emissions, water contamination and the potential destruction of our clean and uncluttered landscape.  All of which are economic liabilities for property owners. Banks and insurers are adopting guidelines that forbid mortgage loans or insurance coverage on properties affected by drilling.  Boulder, CO, real estate agent, Nanner Fisher, told the Boulder iJournal that selling properties near drilling operations is difficult. “For the most part, if there is a well that’s visible when you show a property, [the prospective buyer] will ask to see something else.” According to a white paper prepared for the New York State Bar Association, home mortgage lender Wells Fargo won’t make home loans for properties that have gas drilling leases attached to them. Provident Funding, GMAC, FNCB, Fidelity, First Liberty, First Place Bank, Solvay Bank, Tompkins Trust Co. and CFCU Community Credit Union are putting hard-to-meet conditions on mortgages or denying loans on properties with O&G leases. Federal mortgage institutions (FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) have prohibitions against lending on properties where drilling is taking place or where hazardous materials are stored. A drilling lease on a property financed through one of these agencies would result in a “technical default.” Homeowners who think damage to property incurred by drilling accidents is covered by insurance need to think again. Such damages are typically not covered. 
An article from Eco Watch about this subject:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Instructions to find leases and leasing trends

We in Huerfano County have 4 oil and gas companies who own leases at this time.  They are:  SWEPI (Shell Western Exploration and Production Inc), iii Exploration/Petroglyph, Tabula Rasa, and OXY USA.  SWEPI (Shell) has leases all around the Gardner area in two federal units, through Majors Ranch, then north, west, south, and under La Veta.  iiiExploration/Petroglyph own leases under La Veta and north into Majors Ranch, then east to Walsenburg through Navajo, Rio Cucharas, River Ridge and private lands.  Tabula Rasa bought out Manzano west of La Veta and south of Hwy 160.  They now own the processing plant. A new well has been drilled, with another submitted for approval.  OXY USA has taken over where ARCO was at Sheep Mt and surroundings, looking for CO2.  They’ve just had 3 wells approved.  Do you wonder who owns minerals under your land or in your area?  Below are instructions to the County Recorder website to find out who has interest in your area. 

Instructions to find leases and companies in Huerfano County:
  • Go to (click here):  the County Recorder
  • Click Colorado and Huerfano County, then GO.
  • Say Yes, I accept.
  • Click Search.
  • Go to Document Type, click Load, then scroll to Oil and Gas Lease.
  • Then click Name, which will give you all lease holders and companies, or you can type in a particular name.  Or click Business Name for a particular company.
  • Click 50 per page..
  • In the upper right of the page you will see numbers 1-110 (or higher).  Click the last number for the most recent lease signings or renewals.
  • Click on the 6 digit blue number on the left and you will see when the lease was obtained, who the seller of it is, and who the company is that bought the lease.   Keep this blue number if you want more details on a specific lease as this site doesn’t give details of exact location, just the section, township, and range that the lease is in.  Example: 20 (section) 29S (township) 68W (range) You can get detailed information at the County Clerk’s office on their Computers using the 6 digit number.
Or... You can follow directions above and just above the 50 per page, you can enter into the Legal box your Section, Township and Range, which you will see on your deed. (Example: 20 29S 68W) This will give you companies and names of who owns leases near you in your section.  Since Colorado recognizes “split estates”, the owner of the minerals, hence the lease holder, may not be the same as the surface owner.
Your deed will also have the exact location of your property, which this site does not give you.  Each mile Section is divided into 4 quarters, NE SE NW SW and then each of these quarters is divided into 4 quarters of the same description.  So you will see maybe that your property in the NE section of the SW quarter.  It sounds complicated, but if you draw the quarters out on paper, it’s not so confusing. 

We hope you find this interesting and the information will help you stay abreast of drilling trends here in Huerfano County.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Leaky Dikes and Broken Promises: Fracking in Huerfano County

If you haven't yet been to see the amazing Dike Walls of Huerfano County in Colorado, then you will have missed the pristine beauty and awe-inspiring views they present.  While these unique works of nature attract tourists from all around the world, there is a hidden secret that was not well known until the oil and gas companies came into our region, and began drilling underneath these geological structures.  They leak.  In other words, these structures, which appear as the ridged back of a dragon, actually go way down into the earth's crust, and in some cases, into the magma layer of the earth.  When gas companies drill underneath them with their horizontal drilling technologies, anything that leaks from their drilling shafts is likely to reach the lower levels of the dike walls, and be sent right up to the earth's surface.  This presents a major red flag for any type of oil and gas drilling in our region.

It is not a question of "if" drilling will occur under our dike walls, but "when."  SWEPI has already drilled under four hidden dike walls with their last test well in the region, and anything that is released under the shale layers (layers that are supposed to protect the surface from these harmful substances) will be delivered directly to the surface.  This puts our air, our water, and our health at risk.  For more information, please email us, and we'll send you a copy of the information brochure, "Leaky Dikes and Broken Promises."