Ken Buck: Never Heard that Gas Drilling is Dangerous…Appears Clueless About Real Colorado Issues


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w/ Ken Buck energy policy poll

[Headline updated by request]

The Durango Herald has an interview up with GOP Senate hopeful Ken Buck.  In it Buck disavows any knowledge of problems from (onshore) oil and gas drilling.

DH: It seems like most complaints about the gas industry come from the Western Slope, and not the area you’re from. Have you had much experience with that?

Buck: I had not heard complaints about the gas industry. What kind of complaints are you talking about?

DH: Complaints from landowners about wells being put in places they don’t want, complaints about toxic releases from wells, water pollution, things like that.

Buck: I haven’t heard those complaints. I haven’t heard any complaints about contaminated drinking water from wells. If it happens, it certainly should be closely examined, because it is a danger to human health, but I think it’s very rare. When you think of the thousands of oil and gas wells we have in Colorado, I don’t know what the prevalence is of that issue. [Emphasis Twitty]

Let’s state the obvious: Jobs are good but water is essential.  

Perhaps he has just been busy placating Tea Partiers, but should Mr. Buck head off to Washington he needs to be able to consider energy policy in terms of what is happening back here  in the Colorado gaspatch.  

A quick primer on that experience follows.  

First up we have spills and more spills:

DENVER – Oil and gas companies have reported almost 1,000 spills to Colorado regulators over the past 2 1/2 years, totaling 5.2 million gallons of drilling liquids and oil.

They ranged from small oil leaks from half-closed valves to thousands of barrels of tainted water that escaped from pits.

Spills, of course, may or may not affect stream and riparian habitat, irrigation, or drinking water. But, courtesy of drilling, we also have direct contamination of water wells.  Certainly any candidate purporting to be ready to represent the state should acquaint him or herself with these well-known, on-going cases before sounding off. Someone neglected his due diligence.  

Contamination of the first spring was detected after Ned Prather became ill by drinking benzene-tainted water May 30, 2008. Benzene, a carcinogen associated with oil and gas production, later was found in a second spring.

Richard Djokic, attorney for the Prather family, said it’s his understanding that the latest sampling continues to show benzene is present in both springs.

The state is investigating nearby operations by Williams Production RMT as the possible source of the first spring’s contamination and suspects OXY USA in the case of the second spring.

Finally who can forget the flaming water taps, including those right there in Weld County–where Mr. Buck was DA.  

No one will deny that the oil and gas industry is important to Colorado’s economy. But sensible regulations exist for a reason, not simply for their own sake. Protecting our water sources should not be a question–if companies want the resource they have to protect things that matter. Candidates, and politicians, should demand no less.  

At the least candidates for serious positions should educate themselves about what this activity entails, not just mimic industry talking points to advance a political career.  

Ken Buck's understanding of energy development in Colorado

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54 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. OneEyedOwl says:

    does it mean that God is a Democrat?

  2. dmindgo says:

    That seems to be the choices to describe our good Mr. Buck.  To say he’s not aware of any problems with water from oil & gas – and to say that in an interview in Durango?  Fracing has been going on in Durango for over 15 years.  There are people who definitely know more about this than the COGCC staff down here.  Weld County has been hit really hard by drilling but they have a water system – so maybe they have not had as many outrageous problems.  But still, this guy wants to represent the state he needs to be aware of major issues.  This is either bad staff or stupidity.

  3. bjwilson83 says:

    Environmentalists don’t like a pro-energy development Republican.

    Also shocking – with Buck poised to win the Republican nomination, democrats start attacking. Be careful or you’ll end up looking like Norton. There was nothing remotely problematic with hose comments.

    “If it happens, it certainly should be closely examined, because it is a danger to human health.” Fair enough?

  4. Middle of the Road says:

    This from the same guy who admitted in the same article that

    I have a gas well on my property in Weld County. I have five oil wells within a mile of my property in Weld County. There are many safe ways to extract fossil fuels. We have clean coal technology on the horizon. We can certainly look at coal as a continued source of energy

  5. WestSloper says:

    Wonder what will happen to those O&G fueled PACs if McInnis drops out of the race? That’s probably what’s keeping Scooter going now, knowing that it’s not the voters who will plop him into office, but all those PAC fake-info mail and TV ads aimed at Hickenlooper.

  6.  ”Oil and gas companies have reported almost 1,000 spills to Colorado regulators over the past 2 1/2 years, totaling 5.2 million gallons of drilling liquids and oil.”

    Drilling liquids which are mostly H2O, right?

    When those article came out about flammable water a while back I wondered how many people know about the flaming fountain in Pierre?

    http://www.sdreadytowork.com/d

    It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon, at least in that instance.  

    • BlueCat says:

      Drilling mud: Encyclopedia II – Drilling mud – Composition of drilling mud

      Drilling mud – Composition of drilling mud

      Drilling mud may consist of bentonite clay with additives such as barium sulfate or hematite. Various thickeners are used to influence the viscosity of the fluid, eg. guar gum, glycol, carboxymethylcellulose, or starch. In turn, deflocculents are used to reduce viscosity of clay-based muds; anionic polyelectrolytes (eg. acrylates, polyphosphates, lignosulfonates or tannic acid derivates (eg. Quebracho) are frequently used. Red mud was the name for a Quebracho-based mixture, named after the color of the red tannic acid salts; it was commonly used in 1940s to 1950s, then was obsoleted when lignosulfates became available.

      One classification scheme for drilling fluids is based on their composition, and divides them to

      water-base,

      non-water base, and

      gaseous, or pneumatic.

      http://www.experiencefestival….

    • ardy39 says:

      is “mostly water” too. Your point ?

      •   Didn’t know concentrated sulphuric acid was a drilling mud.

        Anyway, using the phrase “5.2 million gallons of drilling liquids and oil” is near meaningless, designed only to scare and rile people who don’t take time to understand.

        But I’ll bet you knew that already.

        • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

          And you know damned well his point was that your claim about drilling fluids is bullshit. Mostly water? Yeah, fraccing fluid is mostly water… and so is sulphuric acid. And it will eat your flesh.

          The fact is…all that shit is toxic and you are an ass for trying to make such a bogus argument. I worked in the gas patch for a number of years and I have family who do as well.

          Your argument is specious.

          • ClubTwitty says:

            Mud dumps harm riparian habitat

            Mud dumps destroy water systems

            Even if it were all, or mostly predominantly non-toxic ‘discharges’, sediment, mud, and severe surface disturbance are–obviously–themselves a threat.  

            But the chemicals–utilized and produced–are toxic, and they clearly exist in the local environment in enough concentrations to produce health affects in the drilling zones among workers and residents.

            Granted, the oil companies do say its OK;  and why not trust large corporations (from Tulsa, or London, or Calgary or Houston…perhaps even Denver) out to exploit an area’s natural resources for as quick a gain on their dollar as possible?

            Indeed, the companies go on and deny problems, that their activity causes much harm at all, given their delicate and caring touch; that the possibility for such is mitigated below any significance by their care for each little plant and critter to the utmost of their deep abiding concern.

            That while they have everything under control, with each of our best interests and personal well-being in mind, should that very rare occurrence (for which they are always vigilant and prepared, 24/7 365, for each and every operating rig) we need not worry: there is a ‘response plan’ already written up.  

            And while highlighting their deep concern for all things cherished, companies will deny specific harm for a decade or more if they can–years and years is de rigueur–while regulators drags their feet and poisoned people suffer.  

            Perhaps they’ll ‘win’ by wearing the poor citizen down or draining their bank accounts–silly people don’t have a bevy of high-priced lawyers, after a while even the stoutest of heart will probably take a little cash to shut up and quietly move away…

            Or maybe they’ll just buy a gubernatorial candidate or a county commissioner.

            Ahhh, I love the smell of benzene in the morning…smells like the Free Market ™.  

            For many of us who get to directly experience the reality that is gas drilling in Colorado, and follow its happenings–lease sales, drilling plans, mishaps and accidents–W’s argument is indeed, as Duke says, specious.  

          •  Of the 5.2 million gallons, some may be toxic and some is not. That was the point.

            You’re not the only one with family in the business.

            • Ralphie says:

              if it’s toxic?

              To me, NONE.

              Your mileage might vary.  But you live in Denver (according to your nickname) so you siphon off your water at the Divide, before the gas companies fuck it up.

              I’m not so lucky.  I live downstream.

  7. rubyoxy says:

    Perhaps he has just been busy placating Tea Partiers, but should Mr. Buck head off to Washington he needs to be able to consider energy policy in terms

  8. WashParkPoet says:

    “I thought they cleaned up the oil spill already.”

  9. H-man says:

    Other than that, you are doing a fine job as a Coloradopols editor.

    Your take two follow up questions out of context, pretend they represent something they don’t then you are off to the races pretending that a candidate knows less than you about something.  Try a little honesty.

    Here is are the two questions and answers that preceded what you quoted:

    DH: What lessons should the Senate draw from the Gulf Coast oil spill?

    Buck: There first thing is there was a safety issue. Eleven people lost their lives on that oil platform, and that’s a very serious issue. The federal government has a safety agency for that particular area. The United States Senate has oversight ability and responsibility on the executive branch, and I think that’s one of the areas they should look very closely. Are there safety measures that could be taken that would have prevented the loss of life? I also think the continual flow of oil is a serious concern, and I think the Senate should make sure we are using the best technology possible to assure that future accidents and damage like that doesn’t occur. And I think we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure the businesses that are associated with that particular disaster are responsible to the victims who have been damaged by the flow of oil onto the shore. And certainly fishermen have trouble now.

    DH: The president said this shows we need to get away from oil. What’s your thought on that?

    Buck: I think that’s a poor excuse to push alternative energy. If alternative energy is economically feasible, we should absolutely be looking at alternative energy. I have no problems with windmills. I have no problems with solar panels. I think it is part of our energy future. But we shouldn’t arbitrarily push one form of energy from the government when the marketplace isn’t ready for it. … I have a gas well on my property in Weld County. I have five oil wells within a mile of my property in Weld County. There are many safe ways to extract fossil fuels. We have clean coal technology on the horizon. We can certainly look at coal as a continued source of energy

    Having read those questions and answers you think it fair to say Buck “never heard that oil and gas drilling is dangerous”.  That goes beyond unfair and is fundamentally dishonest.

    The questions and answers which you quote are asked of the gas industry, not the oil and gas industry.  Buck has a gas well on his property where he lives.  

    The questioner suggested there were problems on the western slope as to the gas industry and asked whether Buck had experience with complaints about that. Buck indicated he did not and asked what type of complaints?  The answer: “Complaints from landowners about wells being put in places they don’t want, complaints about toxic releases from wells, water pollution, things like that.”

    What does placing a gas well in a place the landowner does not want it have to do with safety? Nothing.

    Toxic releases from gas wells?

    Water pollution from gas wells?

    There have been instances of materials used in the fracking process that have gotten into groundwater, but that was not exactly the gist of the questions he was asked.

    Your conclusion that Buck needs an education which you are able to provide as to energy policy is a joke. Your lack of depth and analysis is remarkable.

    • RedGreenRedGreen says:

      the dangers of gas drilling, which have been well documented in Colorado. But you’re right, the headline on this diary is misleading when it lumps “oil” drilling in the mix.  

    • ClubTwitty says:

      I specified onshore (i.e. as in Colorado) activity:

      In it Buck disavows any knowledge of problems from (onshore) oil and gas drilling. [emphasis my own]

      And from the interview, again my emphasis, Buck first disavows knowledge of complaints in general:

      DH: It seems like most complaints about the gas industry come from the Western Slope, and not the area you’re from. Have you had much experience with that?

      Buck: I had not heard complaints about the gas industry. What kind of complaints are you talking about?

      Then he went on to say:

      I haven’t heard those complaints. I haven’t heard any complaints about contaminated drinking water from wells.

      He’s running for Sen from CO, not LA.  I want a Sen. to deal with off-shore too, it’s a national issue, but Buck’s comments show a complete disregard for either the reality on the ground in Colorado or a lack of concern for real issues affecting real people in the state he hopes to represent.  

      • H-man says:

        Was Buck asked any questions in the interview about the onshore oil industry?  No.

        You conclude Buck knows of no problems with the oil drilling because he has not heard of problems with gas drilling being done not where the landowner wants them to drill?

        You make so many ridiculous leaps of logic you should be embarrassed.

        • ardy39 says:

          Look, it’s the ‘oil and gas industry.’ Even the trade groups lump O&G together (you know, like the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, or the Colorado Petroleum Association). When the weekly rig counts are reported, oil drilling and gas drill rigs are lumped together.

          It is perfectly reasonable to group oil and gas together, whether in a blog title, in a trade organization name, or even in a government regulatory agency.

          Your hyperventilating is a transparent attempt to distract from the real issue.

          Buck said:

          I had not heard complaints about the gas industry. What kind of complaints are you talking about?

          and

          I haven’t heard those complaints. I haven’t heard any complaints about contaminated drinking water from wells.

          I understand your concern. This is perhaps too revealing about Buck (note he only talks about “wells” in the second quote, he does not distinguish oil from gas) and about you, not so much about Club Twitty.

          • H-man says:

            Brilliant analysis.

            Realtors sell all types of real estate. They sell farm land and condos.  

            When a question is asked about condos, that doesn’t make the answer applicable to farm land.  

            Both are real estate.

            But thanks for adding your insight to the dialogue.

            • ClubTwitty says:

              It’s called ‘oil and gas development.’  It’s called ‘oil & gas leasing.’  The activity is managed under the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and/or the BLM’s oil and gas program.  It is a term of art.  

              If the headline is incomplete (it’s a headline, afterall)–and no I did not ‘admit it was dishonest’–then it is because Buck did acknowledge–who couldn’t–that oil drilling in the Gulf has caused a massive FU.  

              • H-man says:

                So you can ignore the question, pretend that he used a different question and go with the answer to the questiion that was not asked.  That seems really honest and forthright to me.

                • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

                  Wells that are drilled in the ground to produce fossil fuel almost always produce four things in varying amounts. Oil, gas, water, and condensate (called “casing head gas” by the old timers).

                  Some wells produce lots of oil and little gas. Some produce lots of gas and little oil. Almost all produce toxic, salty, VERY hard water and smaller quantities of condensate (a very inflammable liquid).

                  Your attempt to somehow draw a line between “oil” and “gas” is a truly pathetic demonstration of your staggering ignorance of the subject.

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