I drove past this between Salida and Cotopaxi on State Highway 50 in Colorado. I had to turn around and tell whoever that I stood with them totally assuming I was correct. I was and got the biggest hug of appreciation for doing so.

From my understanding, there are close to 3000 children being held around this country after being seized from their parents at the border.

Many will never see their Mom and Dad again because Republicans are totally evil.

You bastards!


Onshore Drilling - A Colorado Tragedy

I put this post up in it's entirety to raise awareness of the hazards of methane gas drilling. This hits close to home as this is the county I own property and the story below is accurate.

Thanks to Brahman Colorado and to Square State.

Since May of this year, I have tried no less than six times to write this diary. I haven't had all the facts or references to document what I know. It became so personal a journey for me that I found myself immersed in a struggle to get the information on a small rural county fighting to preserve it's great natural resources of land, water and pristine beauty and my desire to move there.

It is the struggle of one the poorest counties in historic Southern Colorado against the oil and gas industry, drilling for Methane gas in Huerfano County.

A place that has been the crossroads of the Ute trail, Camino Real, Taos trail and the Santa Fe trail bordering the Sangre de Cristo mountain range at the base of the Spanish Peaks. The Peaks have traditional and religious significance to American Indian tribes including the Comanche and Ute. Summer thunderstorms, which often form near the summits, were evidence the rain gods worked their magic on the peaks. The common Indian names are "Wahatoya", Huajatolla" or Guajatoyah", roughly interpreted as "breasts of the earth".

A place where rivers, streams and water sheds have supported a rich diversity of life for thousands of years.

This spring when I lost my business and was forced to sell my house, I decided to regroup and find 35 acres down close to our best friends in Walsenburg, Colorado. For 15 years we have gone down to their large and isolated undeveloped property at the foot of Wahatoya; where he has a trailer, shed and water well in the cedar, pinon and juniper forests at the base of the mountain. I always loved opening the well head and firing up the pump so I could taste that delicious sweet well water that took me back to my childhood memories of drinking good cold sweet well water on the farms and homesteads of my great grandparents. Hmmm...there is nothing like it in the world. We often walked the adjoining parcels of BLM and private land imagining that we too could buy a slice of heaven for ourselves nearby.

Land and water are hot topics in Colorado and the interior West.

We hired a local realtor in June and began searching the beautiful Cuchara valley, La Veta and Badito areas. I was immediately enchanted with the history, topography, wildlife, plants and hispanic culture unique to this area. After 3 months we found 35 acres on a ridge that swept down to the Huerfano creek valley across to the Wet mountains with stunning vistas of the Sangre de Cristos, the Spanish Peaks at the foot of Mt. Maestas and Silver Mountain. It was already feeling like home with a 25 mile drive to town.

But trouble was bubbling in paradise.

Rumors were emerging of water wells blowing up from methane drilling, livestock deaths and fouled water ways. Methane seeps, as they are called, are where pockets of gas follow underground geologic formations and fissures escaping into the atmosphere. Seeps kill vegation, wildlife and humans as it is oftentimes odorless and colorless. The locals were not talking and I couldn't find any articles or information. The bar tenders avoided the topic and homeowners shrugged off my questions. The realtor always struggled with my inquiries.

" Our community is very divided," she explained. "divided between the 2500 jobs and the money that is generated by the oil and gas industry and the environmental impact of all the drilling in the county."

"Folks are concerned about the water in this area."

On the eve of submitting a contract to buy 35 acres, I came home to Denver and googled "Huerfano county methane gas" and came across this article:

THE COLORADO OIL AND GAS CONSERVATION COMMISSION had issued 6 months earlier a cease and desist order for Petroglyph Oil and Gas to stop the devastating practice of dewatering and drilling in Huerfano County.

I was shocked.In the days and weeks and months that have followed a clearer more candid picture of the situation and the effects of coal and methane gas drilling have begun to unfold. The story has gone from a local story to a more regional story. Hopefully it will become a national headline.

We halted our real estate contract and got back our earnest money. We were so very disheartened.

Next I came across this article from the Huerfanoworld.net in June.

Unlike traditional oil and gas drilling, coal bed methane operations target relatively shallow coal seam strata that contain EPA defined drinkable water. In the process of removing the methane gas molecules that are adhered to the coal the industry performs a fracing process. This process dewaters the coal seam, removing the pressure to allow the methane to detach from the coal. The pressures in the coal seam can be as high as 300 psi from the trapped water.

Once the water is removed, the methane is allowed to migrate to the surface. This takes place through the conduit of the methane gas well, but sometimes the gas escapes into domestic wells or natural or induced fractures in the subsurface layers.

3 weeks ago this article was written in the Pueblo Chieftain on November 27th 2008:

Rep. John Salazar says the area's coal-bed methane gas problems are appalling... U.S. Rep. John Salazar has asked Gov. Bill Ritter to become personally involved in what he calls unsafe methods being used to extract coal-bed methane gas in Huerfano County.

Salazar said,

that discharging water from the mining operations into the Cuchara River has hurt agriculture producers who depend on the river for both irrigation and watering cattle.

"They have lost a large number of cattle and the crops they use to feed their stock, thereby making it difficult for their farm to survive."


residents are still complaining that coal-bed methane has migrated into their wells and that some wells are drying up. Farmers and ranchers also are expressing fears that drilling for coal-bed methane could contaminate groundwater.

Yesterday was a terrible day for my friends. They were scheduled to meet with officials from the county and state, oil company reps and an independent lab to take samples and test their water well. The well has been hissing methane gas for awhile now. The smell of rotten eggs fills the well head as the generator and pump spew a foul smelling stream of water.

A circular patch of trees has died at what they suspect as a methane seep nearby on the property. A lot of ranches are for sale now in the area.

I cried this fall standing on the ridge of the property we had tried to buy as I closed my eyes and said goodbye to the land. I cried yesterday with my friends. Their newly poured foundation of their dream home sits idle in the Colorado snow this winter at the foot of Wahatoya next to their fouled water well.

I hope the new Secretary of the Interior and his brother hear the cries of the people of Huerfano county.

The Salazar family has lived nearby for 12 generations! It would be a shame to trade the short term benefits and profits of gas drilling for the sustainable and natural resources of water.

Like thieves in the night, these oil corporations will take the profits and leave a mess for the tax payer and poor citizens of Huerfano county and Colorado to clean up. The track record and denial of these greedy corporations is abysmal in Colorado. The ignorant chanting of "Drill baby Drill" this summer at the Republican convention made me especially mad. These people are just a bunch of ignorant assholes.

The hundreds of drilling holes pock marking the strata of fractured coal seams cannot be repaired a mile down. The dewatered caverns of methane coal beds has been pumped up into the watersheds of the area polluting the streams. Deadly methane gas is escaping from seeps and holes in the ground because oil companies can walk onto your property and drill a hole without your permission because they own the mineral rights below the surface.

It is an environmental disaster in Huerfano and Las Animas counties and I'm not sure the Salazars, Udalls, Obama or Ritter or the Gas commission can fix the real problems here. They are up against some pretty haughty villians.

I am not sure that I will be able to stand in a Colorado thunderstorm and feel the cold mountain rain on my face anymore and imagine in my mind that the Gods of Wahatoya must be weeping too.


  1. corporate irresponsibility is the norm as far as I'm concerned!

  2. Another environmental disaster on the Bush/Cheney watch. We have been considering moving to Colorado in 5 years. Now, we may re-think the move. This is terrible news. How do you remove the methane contamination from water? I once vacationed in northern PA and stayed at a cabin where I could not drink the water because it was contaminated from the coal mines. As a matter of fact, I saw what looked like beautiful clear streams that were really dead streams... no fish, no bugs. Horrible. So sad to hear that CO is suffering the same fate as northern PA, what is known as the "coal region".

  3. Cats,
    Please don't let this one post be the reason for not moving to Colorado. This is an amazing place still to live even with more people moving here there is still room.

    If you have any questions I would try to answer them.

    I work with these two younger guys in the summer who are from Pennsylvania. They call it Pennsyltuky. First time I heard that I cracked up. No offense meant.

    OTC appreciates the link and has returned the favor. tb