Letter: Energy development’s negative impacts outweigh benefits
This week, the U.S. Forest Service determined Thompson Divide is inappropriate for future oil and gas leasing. As a Carbondale business owner, this decision recognizes Thompson Divide’s importance to our local economy and to my way of life — and my employees and customers.
My business, Crystal Fly Shop, relies on our world-class angling and healthy watersheds. Thompson Divide covers 15 watersheds and is significant headwaters to the Roaring Fork. Our exceptional fisheries are treasured by locals and tourists worldwide. The endangered Colorado River cutthroat trout exists in Thompson Creek. Energy development in the Divide could disrupt all this and threaten our recreation-based local economy.
Negative environmental impacts of energy development in the Divide far outweigh benefits, and chemicals used in energy operations are extremely hazardous to humans, wildlife and fish. If development was allowed on Thompson Divide, it would increase pressure on authorities to provide more water diversion from the Crystal River which would devastate that fishery. That would, in turn, seriously degrade the Roaring Fork River and harm those who enjoy fishing, float-fishing, rafting and kayaking below its confluence with the Crystal. Traffic impacts of drilling the Divide would mean construction of new roads, degradation of existing roads and increased sediment being carried into our rivers.
We’ve already seen negative impacts of energy development. Mining at Coal Basin has greatly degraded the Crystal River below Redstone with tailing sediments still being carried through the Crystal into the Roaring Fork.
Now fracking operations along Muddy Creek over McClure Pass are greatly increasing hazardous tanker-truck traffic along Highway 133 through Carbondale and Glenwood to Newcastle, where water is supplied and discharge dumped. Highway 133 is already hazardous — fracking traffic will increase odds of deadly accidents. Operators are now ordering much of this driving done at night to deflect public attention. We don’t need more tankers hauling hazardous chemicals near any of our rivers.
I commend the Forest Service for stating future energy leasing is inappropriate in Thompson Divide, and ask the Bureau of Land Management for a conservation minded approach by canceling expired leases to preserve this public land and our vibrant economy for generations.
David E. Johnson
Owner, Crystal Fly Shop
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Two Rivers Unitarian-Universalist Church, in conjunction with the Roaring Fork Valley’s Interfaith Council and Sanctuary Unidos, is showing a Zoom presentation of the documentary “Welcome Strangers” at 10 a.m. Sunday.