Oil and Gas Disasters Raise The Ire of Colorado Hunters

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The Bull Moose Sportsmen Alliance in Colorado has set their sights on the oil and gas industry. In a new report, the hunting and fishing group highlights the damage that the dirty energy industry has done to their hunting and fishing grounds for years. Among the more damning findings are the fact that there are over 100 oil spills every year in just three counties in Colorado – Garfield, Mesa, and Rio Blanco. The state of Colorado has confirmed that no fewer than 77 of these spills managed to taint water supplies of the three counties. These spills combined have leaked more than 5.6 million gallons of oil into the lands that the Bull Moose Sportsmen Alliance works to preserve.

As the Alliance points out, the hunting and fishing industry in Colorado brings in more than $1.2 billion a year, making it more profitable than the sports industry in the state, which includes NFL, NBA, and MLB teams. But thanks to the reckless oil and gas industry, the ecosystems and habitat that hunters and fishermen spend that billion-plus dollars to enjoy are threatened.

Here are some of the highlights from the group’s report:

Oil and gas companies reported 992 oil and gas spills from 2001 to 2010. Those spills released at least 5.6 million gallons of wastewater, oil and other chemicals and fluids.

Operators in Garfield County – the epicenter of a natural gas drilling boom in the last decade – reported 535 spills reported to state regulators from 2001 to 2010. Those releases spilled about 3.5 million gallons of oil and gas fluids. Nearly 2 million gallons were unrecovered and remain on the landscapes of the county.

Garfield County also recorded the highest amount of oil and gas spills and releases that tainted surface and groundwater. In 10 years, incidents have infiltrated surface water at least 45 times and groundwater 11 times.

Wastewater from oil and gas operations accounts for the vast majority of spilled fluids in the three counties. About 91 percent of the oil and gas fluids spilled in the three counties from 2001 to 2010 was wastewater, which is also known as produced water. That water can contain salt, oil and grease, along with naturally occurring radioactive material and inorganic and organic compounds.

Equipment failure was the leading cause for spills in Garfield, Rio Blanco and Mesa counties with at least 49 percent of the 992 spills were caused by faulty equipment. Human error caused at least 23 percent of the spills, according to the analysis.

The group fears that the increased pressure from Washington to drill for more domestic oil and gas will only exacerbate the current problems in their area, which would lead to irreparable harm to their environment, economy, and personal lives.

For more information about the Bull Moose Sportsmen Alliance, visit their website and download the full report [PDF].

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

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