Letter: Talking Thompson Divide | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Talking Thompson Divide

At a meeting on April 16, we residents learned that we must present our side of the argument based only on the terms that we have been given. We must offer a narrow specific using selective science to protect some particular flora or fauna in Thompson Divide. When we raise an issue, say, interruption of wildlife corridors, then the Bureau of Land Management infers a range of alternatives. But “wildlife” is too broad a term. We must hone in on a particular trout, insect, bird in a narrowly affected area.

We are talking past each other, as you judge our arguments that encompass environmental and livelihood disruptions and our fear of fouled drinking water and air as not germane to the environmental impact statemenet. These collateral damages of fracking are not deemed rational or specific enough. Although evidence is rife.

The “E” in EIS is “environmental.” The entire Thompson Divide plus its environs. Therefore, I ask that you to give consideration to the fall out of fracking and how it threatens our vital livelihoods both bordering and within Thompson Divide as well as the impacts to the interdependent and viable economy all along the Roaring Fork Valley. You have heard it: 300 directly affected jobs and $3 million in earnings all dependent on the preservation of these wilds.

We do not want to be Williston, North Dakota, whose population has increased by a figure of five in three years. The town was industrialized, and home prices plunged in response to attendant pollution. Now, transient housing prices and man camps soar. Hospitals and schools are overcrowded and teetering. Imported teachers have no place to live. The once clear air is now dust. Police forces are stretched to breaking as assaults, domestic violence and drunk driving increase. The FBI has a new office in Williston. Short-term gain for a few and long-term suffering for the many who, no doubt, felt as attached to their town and lands as we do.

Fracking may be old, but modern techniques are very recent, too recent for us to know the far-ranging impacts of exploding, high-velocity chemicals and water into rock. Fracking is a high-impact, heavy, industrial activity involving thousands of lumbering truck trips. Wells are found to leak methane at far greater rates than expected. A newly fracked well needs 50 to 100 times the water and chemicals compared to the older drilled wells. Making it safe is not possible with our current technology nor with proposed inherently inadequate regulations.

Thompson Divide is not an economic market. It defies the mathematical quantification required by economic markets and required by the BLM. The leases in Thompson Divide are less than 1 percent of active leases on public lands in Colorado. Ninety-nine percent of Thompson Divide is used for agriculture, sport and recreation. Drilling development should not happen everywhere.

Thompson Divide is unfit and out of place, inappropriate and inexpedient. In short, placing this industry in the high-alpine desert of Thompson Divide is irresponsible of the BLM, and it is diametrically incompatible with the BLM’s mission statement to protect the land. Not to make a profit from its exploitation. If we make one mistake, just one, it can never be taken back.

Protect the White River National Forest and Thompson Divide’s fifteen watersheds.

Void the leases.

Mabel Macdonald


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