Guest blog from field activist Dave Devanney
We, the residents of Garfield County, Colorado, have been concerned with health effects potentially related to the increase in natural gas development within the last year. So we started circulating a petition in favor a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) done by the Colorado School of Public Health. The petitioning campaign was a success and the HIA began. Well, after the second draft of the HIA was released, the results were of serious concern and seemed to confirm the residents’ fears. So what does the County Commission do? They quit by putting a halt to the HIA!
How does this make you feel? I’m mad as hell! Did they spend over $250K and not finish the job? It may be that they and the industry did not like what they saw in the second draft. They saw a lot of recommendations being proposed that would cost money that they might not want to spend. Recommendations that were “health-based” to safeguard residents of Battlement Mesa. So now we have an unfinished product that will forever be labeled as “just a draft.”
Two Commissioners offered up public comments. John Martin stated that the HIA had developed a “…life of its own…” and it was time to “…call it a day…”. Maybe it was getting too complicated for him. Mike Samson reiterated that the project had become a “…political football…”. Who are the only politicians involved here? They had the opportunity to replace politics and industry dominance with health-based science – and they quit. This after twice granting Antero more time to study (attack?) the draft reports and have their experts submit volumes of conflicting rhetoric. Makes you wonder if that wasn’t the plan all along…
Weren’t you always taught that when you start something – you need to finish it? Apparently that rule does not apply to Garfield County politics. Wouldn’t you be embarrassed if you bailed out on something as significant as this? This project had originally given Garfield County national prominence as leader in public health protection – now what do we look like?
So what do we do now? Well, let’s not go away quietly. Let’s tell the rest of Garfield County and the nation how we feel. Let’s begin by writing letters to the editor of all the local papers. And then let the Front Range and the rest of Colorado know what we think. And maybe the NY Times or High Country News or any other worthy publication. Let’s forward this news to your friends and colleagues around the country. Let’s let all know that we feel that the county commissioners reneged on their pledge to protect public health, safety and welfare in Battlement Mesa.
And if you think that they will do things any different when it comes time to review Antero’s Special Use Permit application, well – think again.
Happy letter writing!
Dave Devanney is one of the lead activists in the Battlement Mesa Bucket Brigade. When the gas company proposed drilling within the communities’ borders, Dave got his neighbors together. It seemed everyone had a story about pungent odors and potentially associated health effects. Using the Bucket Brigade as an organizing tool, Dave’s been fighting for the right to know what’s in the air he and his neighbors are breathing.