Historic flooding across large portions of Central and Eastern Colorado has caused an unprecedented amount of damage. Along with the rise in water levels came elevated concern over the tens of thousands of frack wells that scar the region's landscape. In one of the hardest hit areas, Weld County, there are over 20,000 frack wells alone.
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Historic flooding across large portions of Central and Eastern Colorado has caused an unprecedented amount of damage. Along with the rise in water levels came elevated concern over the tens of thousands of frack wells that scar the region's landscape. In one of the hardest hit areas, Weld County, there are over 20,000 frack wells alone. This satellite image faces west up the South Platte River toward Greeley, Colorado. Illuminated in red are some of the frack wells. Limited by resolution and the extremely clustered positioning of wells, each circle is marking between one and twenty wells.
Right now it is impossible to asses the full environmental and economic impacts of this disaster. However, anti-fracking activists and residents in Colorado are claiming that there is a media blackout on the story of damaged frack wells and fracking infrastructure. In Colorado there are only 20 inspectors for the over 50,000 high-volume fracking wells. Many say that the industry has been allowed to police itself, which may be responsible for the hundreds of oil and gas industry spills reported each year in the state. In March 2012 an in depth report by Earthworks found that "failure to adequately enforce existing drilling rules is harming Colorado’s public health, safety, and environment." This failure falls upon the shoulders of the Colorado oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the department responsible to quote, "foster the responsible development of Colorado’s oil and gas natural resources." Many activists and residents are pointing out that it may not have been responsible to permit the placement of thousands of gas wells and all of the associated infrastructure within a flood plain.
As of Monday, September 16th there are a large number of photographs and reports of overturned liquid storage tanks at flooded frack sites, as well as multiple ruptured gas and oil pipelines. As the relief efforts continue, it is important to put public pressure on departments like the Colorado oil and Gas Conservation Commission in order to ensure that this type of negligence and recklessness does not continue.
As climate change begins to make weather patterns less predictable and extreme weather events more common, it is imperative that we prevent fracking and all other forms of extreme extraction from coming into the bioregions in which we live. The immediate risk of environmental degradation and contamination along with the long-term risk of accelerating climate change should compel us all to be uncompromising in defense of the earth.