Speak out against flyovers and fracking
October 17, 2011
The Oct. 8 gathering in Carbondale to protest the proposed oil and gas drilling on the hills outside of town at Thompson Divide brought together a wide range of citizens, from ranchers to teachers, moms and kids, hunters, bikers, skiers and solitude seekers.
The permit sits on the Bureau of Land Management officer’s desk, waiting to be signed. The leases were bought years ago for the price of a candy bar each. The effects on this valley can be previewed by taking a trip to the Rifle area oil and gas fields. While the threat to the water quality of Carbondale by such activities as fracking is real, air quality issues encompass our whole valley.
Due to our predominant northwesterly winds and the location of the Thompson Divide, the entire Roaring Fork Valley could often be downwind of the benzene and methane gases, the fugitive dust, and fine particulates this industry generates.
In 2000, EPA and USDA air quality monitoring data showed that Aspen had some of the cleanest air in the country, along with one site in Hawaii and another near Denali National Park in Alaska. This may not be the future case. The habitat loss and disruption of yet another beautiful landscape sacrificed for an unsustainable energy policy is a tragedy.
At Monday night’s meeting in Aspen, we heard the proposal by the U.S. Air Force to fly low-level training missions throughout our region. If approved, flights of C130 and Osprey aircraft could operate low-level night flights over the surrounding private, BLM, National Forest and Wilderness areas. These aircraft usually fly in groups and cruise at speeds in the 300-knot range and will operate as low as 300 feet above ground level. The altitudes of our surrounding mountains mimic the conditions these crews need to be trained in for operations in the ongoing theater of war in Afghanistan.
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Perhaps a future historian will connect the dots of these two examples of our time: the ravenous need for more and more energy to fuel a civilization that has overshot its carrying capacity and the pursuit of distant wars deemed necessary for its safety.
If the impacts of these operations don’t coincide with the values we hold here in our communities, the time to speak out is now.