Have you ever wondered why, when they discover a new oil or gas field, they call it a “play”? Could it be that oil and gas corporations are playing with your family’s health, playing with your home’s value and playing with our state’s economic future?
The new Niobrara energy play in shale oil and shale gas along the Front Range of Colorado—with 10,000 new leases and counting—brings with it enormous problems, risks and health concerns. Let’s look at some facts.
• Water: Thousands of spills, and releases of drilling and fracking chemicals, have occurred in drilled and fracked areas of the state, many affecting groundwater and some affecting surface water. Aquifer contamination has occurred. Wells have been poisoned. Water supplies are being stretched even thinner as rivers and farms are poised to be drained for drilling and fracking.
• Air: Two scientific studies—one by the University of Colorado and another by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—have found serious problems with air quality in heavily drilled and fracked areas of the state. Headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness and asthma attacks are the most common complaints as methane, ozone and other cancer-causing chemicals blow into nearby homes and communities.
• Property values: Residents across the state who have wells and drilling permits within a few hundred feet of their homes report difficulties selling their homes, negative impacts on their property values, difficulties buying homeowners’ insurance and more heavily scrutinized mortgages and home equity loans.
• Wildlife: All across the state in drilled and fracked areas, wildlife—including elk, mule deer, antelope and sage grouse—have been affected. Drilling and fracking may cause the greater sage grouse to be listed as an endangered species, and are increasingly affecting Colorado’s hunting and recreational economy.
Some elected officials—including Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Jared Polis (D-CO), and several state legislators—recently tried to address these negative impacts by introducing bills to protect the public’s health, property and the environment from drilling and fracking. But so far, those bills have gotten nowhere. Why? A look at a recent vote in the U.S. Senate tells the whole story.
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Senate tried to cut billions of dollars in government subsidies given to Big Oil corporations, but that effort failed by a few votes. Why? It turns out that the very same U.S. senators who voted to support those subsidies had taken more than $16 million in campaign contributions from Big Oil companies in the last 13 years.
This buying and selling of elected officials and our democracy occurs in state government too. A few years ago, former Gov. Bill Ritter tried to cut state subsidies given to oil and gas corporations, and use the money to fund higher education, address the negative impacts of drilling and increase investments in clean energy.
What happened? Instantly, oil and gas corporations spent $10 million on TV ads to kill the effort. In addition, our current governor’s campaign has been a big recipient of oil and gas cash, as have those of many state legislators, and current and former candidates and Congress members.
Poisoned water, polluted air, decreasing home values, decreasing hunting and recreational opportunities, and increasingly toxic landscapes. Did I leave out something?
Oh yeah—$4/gallon gas prices charged at the pump by Big Oil corporations that made profits of more than $130 billion last year alone.
How much worse can it get? Consider this: After meeting with Anadarko Oil Corp. officials, a commissioner from Weld County (which has more wells than any U.S. county) told the Greeley Tribune, “We are the new Saudi Arabia.”
Let’s get real.
Do we need oil and gas until we can shift to a clean-energy economy? Yes. Should we shift to that clean-energy economy as soon as possible? Yes. In the meantime, do we need much stronger protections from the impacts of drilling and fracking? Yes, absolutely.
But do we also need to hear sanctimonious, oil money-soaked politicians ranting about getting the government off of Big Oil’s back? No.
Tell these politicians to take their dirty oil money and go play somewhere else.
By Kate Whiting
From Greta Thunberg to Sir David Attenborough, the headline-grabbing climate change activists and environmentalists of today are predominantly white. But like many areas of society, those whose voices are heard most often are not necessarily representative of the whole.
1. Wangari Maathai<p>In 2004, Professor Maathai made history as the <a href="https://www.nobelpeaceprize.org/Prize-winners/Prizewinner-documentation/Wangari-Maathai" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize</a> for her dedication to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She started the <a href="http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Green Belt Movement</a>, a community-based tree planting initiative that aims to reduce poverty and encourage conservation, in 1977. More than 51 million trees have been planted helping build climate resilience and empower communities, especially women and girls. Her environmental work is celebrated every year on <a href="http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/node/955" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Wangari Maathai Day on 3 March</a>.</p>
2. Robert Bullard<p>Known as the 'father of environmental justice,' Dr Bullard has <a href="https://www.unep.org/championsofearth/laureates/2020/robert-bullard" target="_blank">campaigned against harmful waste</a> being dumped in predominantly Black neighborhoods in the southern states of the U.S. since the 1970s. His first book, Dumping in Dixie, highlighted the link between systemic racism and environmental oppression, showing how the descendants of slaves were exposed to higher-than-average levels of pollutants. In 1994, his work led to the signing of the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/albert-huang/20th-anniversary-president-clintons-executive-order-12898-environmental-justice" target="_blank">Executive Order on Environmental Justice</a>, which the <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/27/executive-order-on-tackling-the-climate-crisis-at-home-and-abroad/" target="_blank">Biden administration is building on</a>.<br></p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7983f54726debdd824f97f9ad3bdbb87"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/T_VjSGk8s18?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Pollution has a race problem. Elizabethwarren.com
3. John Francis<p>Helping the clean-up operation after an oil spill in San Francisco Bay in January 1971 inspired Francis to <a href="https://planetwalk.org/about-john/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stop taking motorized transport</a>. Instead, for 22 years, he walked everywhere. He also took a vow of silence that lasted 17 years, so he could listen to others. He has walked the width of the U.S. and sailed and walked through South America, earning the nickname "Planetwalker," and raising awareness of how interconnected people are with the environment.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="09b968e0e9964e31406954dcea45981d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vgQjL23_FoU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
4. Dr. Warren Washington<p>A meteorology and climate pioneer, Dr. Washington was one of the first people to develop atmospheric computer models in the 1960s, which have helped scientists understand climate change. These models now also incorporate the oceans and sea ice, surface water and vegetation. In 2007, the <a href="https://www.cgd.ucar.edu/pcm/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Parallel Climate Model (PCM)</a> and <a href="https://www.cesm.ucar.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Community Earth System Model (CESM)</a>, earned Dr. Washington and his colleagues the <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2007/summary/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Nobel Peace Prize</a>, as part of the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change</a>.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="09fbf6dc37f275f438a0d53ec0fe1874"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bvJ4jTy2mTk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
5. Angelou Ezeilo<p>Huge trees and hikes to pick berries during her childhood in upstate New York inspired Ezeilo to become an environmentalist and set up the <a href="https://gyfoundation.org/staff/Angelou-Ezeilo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Greening Youth Foundation</a>, to educate future generations about the importance of preservation. Through its schools program and Youth Conservation Corps, the social enterprise provides access to nature to disadvantaged children and young people in the U.S. and West Africa. In 2019, Ezeilo published her book <em>Engage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders</em>, co-written by her Pulitzer Prize-winning brother Nick Chiles.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ce4547d4e5c0b9ad2927f19fd75bf4ab"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YojKMfUvJMs?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
- Youth Climate Activists Want a Role in Biden's White House ... ›
- As Protests Rage, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice ... ›
- The Power of Inclusive, Intergenerational Climate Activism - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Human Noise Pollution Is Harming Ocean Creatures - EcoWatch ›
- Mercury Pollution Found in Deepest Part of Ocean - EcoWatch ›
- Study: Plastic Pollution Increases Ocean Acidification - EcoWatch ›
The Postal Service is updating its massive fleet of mail carrying vehicles, heralding a significant step toward reducing carbon pollution from its massive fleet while also helping to protect its workforce from climate impacts.
- Texas Blackouts Reveal How Electric Vehicles Can Provide Power ... ›
- Ask a Scientist: Electric Vehicles are the Cleanest Option Today ... ›
After a second day of Senate hearings, Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) is poised to become the first Native to serve as Secretary of the Interior (or any such high-ranking cabinet position.)
- Joe Biden Appoints Climate Crisis Team - EcoWatch ›
- Democrats Unveil Bill Addressing Cultural Genocide Against Native ... ›
- Biden Taps Rep. Deb Haaland to Lead Interior in Historic Move ... ›
A rare yellow penguin has been photographed for what is believed to be the first time.
- World-Renowned Photographer Documents Most Remote ... ›
- This Penguin Colony Has Fallen by 77% on Antarctic Islands ... ›