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Letters to editor for November 27, 2008

Petroglyph Challenged

    I listened to the presentation by Mr. Paul Powell, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Petroglyph Energy Company Inc. on November 15th and also read his interview with a local paper.  As a resident of River Ridge Ranch (RRR) and the President of the River Ridge Ranch Landowners Association (LOA) I was extremely interested in what he had to say.

    Let me start off by saying that no one, and I mean absolutely no one, wants the Methane Investigation Monitoring and Mitigation Plan (MIMMP) to succeed more than the residents of RRR.  We are at “absolute ground zero” of the coal bed methane (CBM) situation as well as the mitigation effort.  Our lives are directly touched every single day by CBM issues.  We hear the huge diesel well pumps running 24/7 during operations.  We have maintenance trucks and drill rigs on our roads.  We have domestic water wells that have gone dry at the same time they started emitting CBM.  (Coincidence?  Maybe and maybe not.)  Our property values have plummeted.  We have the fear, and yes that’s exactly what I mean, fear, of CBM potentially reaching levels to cause injury to our families. 

    Now we find ourselves at the epicenter of efforts to correct the CBM problem in Huerfano County.  So do we want the MIMMP to work?  You bet we do!

    A few minor points about Mr. Powell’s presentation and interview if I may. 

    For Mr. Powell to say that the explosion in the Bounds well house was not an explosion “in the truest sense” is incorrect.  During my 22 years in the military I saw several explosive events.  I’m not sure what pictures he saw but the ones I saw sure looked like the results of an explosive event to me.  There also was, as he surely knows, an explosive fire plume at the well head of a RRR resident that was witnessed by COGCC personnel and others.  I am sure the two landowners would be more than happy to share the long term effects of these explosions with Mr. Powell.  Along that note, I  believe he owes Mr. and Mrs. Bounds an apology.

    If Mr. Powell is truly interested in purchasing a “vacation home in the county,” I know of several RRR lots that are for sale and some even have ready-to-move-in homes on them.  Of course some may not have water in their domestic water well.  Some may have CBM being emitted from their domestic water wells.  Some may have diesel motor noise so loud you can’t sleep with the windows open.  But it’s all part of the local ambiance of having CBM operations close by.  Something Mr. Powell may want to experience first hand. 

    As far as the sodium bicarbonate in the discharged water is concerned, I’m sure that a local dairy farmer would be more that happy to explain to Mr. Powell the effects of the material that he said “comes in the box called Arm and Hammer” can have upon soil and crops.  Here again, I also believe Mr. Powell owes Mr. Corsentino an apology.

    If Mr. Powell would really like a pleasant “hello” at local stores while wearing his Petroglyph shirt, he might consider going further than just meeting the minimum state water discharge requirements and treating his discharged water to prevent soil damage.  Surely a good neighbor would do that.  Around here a good neighbor would not knowingly do anything to damage his neighbor’s property.  Good neighbors get “hellos” all over town all the time Mr. Powell.  Just listen.

    For Mr. Powell to say Petroglyph purchased a section of property above some coal mines “providing the company with land it desired” about a year ago may be a little off base.  That property was identified by the COGCC in Cease and Desist Order #1C-6 dated January 2008 which called for Petroglyph to “immediately propose” a plan to mitigate the conditions to protect the health, safety and welfare at that location.  Petroglyph’s solution was to buy out the owner.  I believe that sale happened in April or thereabouts.

    It is true as Mr. Powell said that Petroglyph is indeed taking actions such as installing alarms, well vents, cistern vents and hauling water.  All of these would seem to demonstrate that Petroglyph wants to be a good neighbor except for the fact that those actions are also required by that same COGCC Cease and Desist Order #1C-6.  And the question of how those families will obtain their water 20 years from now has not been answered.  Only avoided.

    If Petroglyph is not the enemy as Mr. Powell said in one headline, Petroglyph may be very close to it to some.  Petroglyph and the “proper authorities” are having meetings, discussing information, exchanging ideas, exploring options, etc. but no one is including the citizens of Huerfano County in those discussions.  In fact Mr. Powell’s company informed the COGCC that Petroglyph would not participate in meetings discussing the data associated with the MIMMP if a representative of the RRR LOA was allowed to attend.  I had to testify at three separate COGCC hearings in Denver in order to have the voice of the people initially be heard by Mr. Powell’s company and the COGCC Commissioners.

    I would like to believe Mr. Powell when he said his company is truly interested in finding a “win-win-win solution” but unfortunately up to now the evidence to support such a statement is not there.  A review of Petroglyph’s actions immediately after this serious and dangerous CBM problem was discovered may shed some light on the situation.  Did Petroglyph contact the RRR LOA and enlist their help?  Did Petroglyph contact the local press and get out in front of the story with pertinent information?  Did Petroglyph notify the local county commissioners?  Did Petroglyph do any coordination with county officials before being directed to by the COGCC?  Did Petroglyph sit down with each affected landowner and discuss the problem and mitigation options?  Did Petroglyph initiate a community meeting to address the issues?  I’m sure Mr. Powell can get the idea of what I’m trying to say.

    It is apparent that Petroglyph, the COGCC, the State Engineer and the EPA are all on the same page when it comes to not actively looking into the cause or correcting the drying up of domestic water wells.  All express interest but none are conducting investigations into the direct cause of the problem.  Everyone seems to be concentrating on the CBM problem.  No agency seems to be willing to take the lead in that area and represent the local citizens.  This county may end up to be the first in Colorado to be made entirely dry by CBM operations.  Water is life.  Without water Huerfano county will cease to exist as we now know it.

    All we want is to be able to live our American Dream.  Petroglyph’s CBM operations are making that a difficult dream to achieve.  I challenge Mr. Powell to help us restore our dream.  What we have seen so far is the arrogance of a gas and oil company who would rather engage with unfeeling state agencies than local citizens. 


    Richard Goodwin

On Obama

    Is this latest financial crisis merely a bump in the road of Capitalism OR the beginning of the end for the world′s last superpower?  History has not been good to superpowers…  Rome, the British Empire, the USSR. Led  by men made arrogant by sheer power and ignorant of the lessons of history they overextend their nation′s resources in foreign lands in the futile attempt to rewrite history… Failure is assured In these attempts to force an alien system of government and societal beliefs on other nations and their peoples. Given time these leaders break their military, bankrupt their economy and impoverish their people…

    Sometimes at critical junctures in history a great leader will appear, FDR, Churchill, and with compassion and intelligence inspire a People to remember what made their nation great and a path and a reason to return to those roots… Perhaps this is one of those times… At least this is one old man′s fervent HOPE!

    Ken Back


Dear Editor:

    This is a copy of a letter that I am sending  President-elect Obama which I would like to share with your readers.

Dear President-elect Obama,

    Congratulations on your being elected to be our next president.  Because of the current state of our nation and the world, you will face many challenges and obstacles.  You need to lead us back to a strong democracy–one with a favorable economy, good education system, and an acceptance of individual liberty and equality for all.  You have indicated that you plan to be bipartisan and I trust that is true as it will take the co-operation of all Americans to solve the many problems.  I know you will do your best to work for our common welfare.  I pray that you are successful.

    I am heartened by the knowledge that you have taught Constitutional Law.  You have special knowledge of  the depth and complexity of our Constitution.  I have a copy of the Preamble posted in my computer room and I read it often.  It is a great point of reference on "we the people" and the reasons why our government was established.

    As Tom Brokaw suggested, I raise my right hand high and truly enroll as a Citizen of the United States.  I will do all I can to help.


    Norma Jean Wilson

Confederate flag can be symbol of freedom 

    It has come to my attention that some of my community members may have misinterpreted my display of the Confederate Flag in my yard.  I would like to clarify my reasons for flying this flag and assure everyone that it is no way intended to be racist or offensive.

    I was raised in the Fundamentalist Mormon community at Colorado City, Arizona.  Colorado City, most recently associated with Warren Jeffs, is an oppressive, highly religious community.  It was very difficult for me to leave the community, but I was able to escape in 1986.

    Many of us that have mustered the courage and inner strength to escape from Colorado City fly the Confederate Flag as a symbol of our freedom.  For us, this flag represents rebellion.  My rebellion against the religious doctrine of Colorado City was an important turning point in my life and I am very proud of it.

    I understand that the Confederate Flag has a variety of meanings, but for me it is simply a symbol of my independence and freedom.


    Kristi Arnold

Laundromat Closing    After owning and operating Oak Street Laundromat for the past ten years, we have come to a point where we must close our doors effective January 1, 2009. 

    The increase in utilities has made it prohibitive to stay open.  We have worked hard to provide a needed service to this community and feel terrible about having to close but simply have no options left. 

    We would like to thank all of our loyal customers and apologize for the inconvenience.

    Steve and Debbie Channel

Thanks Martie Henderson

    The recent political discussions in letters to the editor were better than I expected.  It was right for the newspapers to print them and good of the writers to write them.

    I would like to call attention to an important distinction among candidates for county commissioner:  only one published specific policy actions that she would enact if elected, and she is Ms. Martie Henderson.  For concision, I won’t list the planks in her platform; they are easily found in newspapers’ back issues.  The salient fact is that she had specific policy proposals.  As far as I know, no other candidate had more than inspirational rhetoric, vague policy goals, and politically safe ideas like opposing eminent domain in Piñon Canyon.

    A candidate for U.S. Senate delivered audience-specific praise and happy-talk at the Community Center, but no specific policy information.  This isn’t good enough.

    To propose a specific policy or idea invites criticism.  The safe course to election might be to say nothing, but that doesn’t serve democracy.  Citizens need more information, not less.

    Respected columnist, David Broder, laments:  “At a moment when few Americans can muster much confidence in the leaders in Congress or the White House, McCain and Obama have used two of their three debates . . . to conceal more than they revealed about their agendas.”  “But it may be the best we can get.” (“Debates shed little light on the big issues”; The Pueblo Chieftain; Oct. 9, 2008; p. 4A)

    Democracy takes work.  A spasm of political advertising and speech-making once every four years isn’t enough.  Citizens must learn relevant information; there’s a lot of it.  Time and effort must be expended.  There will be no “democracy” if citizens fail to do this intellectual work.  Thank Ms. Martie Henderson for making that work easier.


    Larry D. Bullock