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The Natural Gas Industry wants to begin drilling in Gem County...

Are you concerned with…

*water and aquifer contamination?

      During initial gas well drilling, existing water in nearby water wells can be temporarily lost as the drilling goes down through the aquifer into the layers below. The potable water aquifer can be contaminated with bad water from a layer lower down.  Gas well bore casing cementing may also be defective or not be complete throughout the length of the well, depending on its installation and the ground formation, and this could allow mixing of potable and bad water, and possibly bacteria from other sources as well as underground toxics. On the surface, in-ground waste-storage/evaporation pit liners may leak; these pits could also overflow in a storm. If well stimulation or fracturing (fracking) of gas/oil-bearing strata is allowed, whether on a vertical or a horizontally-drilled well, pressure-cracking can sometimes reach into other strata and cause water contamination by fracking fluid and/or methane migration.  Many commonly used fracking fluid chemicals are known to be toxic to humans and wildlife, and several are known to cause cancer.  These include petroleum distillates such as kerosene and diesel fuel (which contain benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals); polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; methanol; formaldehyde; ethylene glycol; glycol ethers; hydrochloric acid; and sodium hydroxide.  Very small quantities of such chemicals are capable of contaminating millions of gallons of water.  Though some hydraulic fracturing fluids contain chemicals deemed to be "hazardous wastes" even when diluted to parts per billion, these substances are being injected into wells that could affect underground sources of drinking water.  Spills of fracturing chemicals and wastes during transportation, fracturing operations, and waste disposal have contaminated soil and surface waters in other areas, adding to short-term as well as possible long-term negative consequences for underground sources of drinking water.

*increased air pollution?

      In many oil and gas producing regions, there has been a degradation of air quality as drilling increases. These volatile air toxics (often odorless) may be originating from a variety of gas-field sources such as separators, dehydrators, condensers, compressors, chemical spills, leaking pipes and valves, and flame flaring of uncaptured gas.  Emissions are also released when chemical-laden wastewater used in drilling returns to the surface, and when naturally occurring toxics such as methane and radon are released from underground.  This wastewater often goes into open pits, where it will off-gas its organic compounds into the air.  This contributes to the air pollution problem, and the organic compounds are now termed Hazardous Air Pollutants.  In addition, the emissions from and dust raised by the hundreds of additional large work trucks driving in and around our county will only worsen the air quality. 

*increased noise pollution?

      When a well is being drilled there will be multiple weeks of pounding and noise for each well.  Increased traffic noise of large truck transportation, and from other on-site equipment, will continue as wells are productive.  Ongoing noises from well head equipment and permanent lighting pollution will also affect people and animals nearby.

*increased road use by large trucks?

      Each gas well may need hundreds of large work trucks to service it from the beginning to the end of its productive life – a span no one can know for sure.  The increased road use in our county will potentially lead to more traffic collisions, road and bridge damage, and accidents causing spills of hazardous materials, which will also put extra stress on our first responders (law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs).

*an industrial vs. agricultural atmosphere?

      Our county’s “Gem Community Comprehensive Plan” calls for our agricultural atmosphere to continue into the future.  This is why it is important for our local planning and zoning commission to have the final say over the gas and oil industry here in our county so that we do not become an industrial zone.

*decreased property values?

      People may not be able to leave the area because their assessed property values decline.  Properties with drill sites have to find a buyer willing to take on a drill site and the lease.  For those properties that have their well water (aquifer) contaminated, finding a new buyer may be impossible.  The industry and royalties are dependent upon the unpredictable price of gas, so this makes the real estate market volatile, and it is difficult for the county, schools, and private stakeholders to plan from year to year. Local tourism could be negatively affected as well. Man-made earthquakes are now becoming more common due to fracking. We must safeguard our county's infrastructure, including Black Canyon Dam, and all property owners against any potential disasters.

 

For all of these concerns, and more, it is imperative that Gem County has a far-sighted and effectual Gas & Oil Well Ordinance to protect our People.

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