Residents of my subdivision recently met with the county to express our opposition to a rule change that now allows gas and oil companies to drill within small-acreage subdivisions.
When I moved to Durango in 2001, our subdivision had one gas well within its boundaries and one directly adjacent to us. Since then and after all the rule changes, our subdivision now has four gas wells in or adjacent to us, and BP plans on drilling four additional wells.
While I applaud the county's efforts to protect the environment by encouraging the industry to drill on existing well pads, I don't understand how the county can in good conscience allow the industry to put an additional six wells in a residential subdivision.
Is the health and safety of humans not as important as that of wildlife?
And that - public health and safety - is what this issue is all about. By neglecting to halt this continued encroachment on our subdivisions, La Plata County is creating a public health and safety catastrophe.
What makes things worse is that the county is completely aware of this fact.
The 2002 La Plata County Impact Report says, "Increased public safety risks are anticipated to occur in proportion to the number of additional (gas) facilities. There would be a potentially increased risk of methane seepage in soils and water wells, fires and accidents. Residential properties near the (gas) facilities would be most sensitive to these risks."
La Plata County doesn't need an unnecessary death of one of our children at the hands of the industry like we've witnessed in Farmington. We don't need to put significant population at risk like Carlsbad, N.M., where 500 people were evacuated from their homes because of a gas well blowout. We simply can't afford to wait until it's too late. Carlsbad's mayor said the incident there "should be a wake-up call for everybody."
We are simply asking the county to finally wake up. Draw a line in the sand.
At the very minimum, protect the public's health and safety and keep dangerous industrial operations out of our neighborhoods.
Heath Anderson, Durango