Mr. Jack Amant ("A Lesson About Fracking," Jan. 1, Longmont Weekly) seems to think uninformed citizens aren't very useful. But the oil and gas industry has stonewalled disclosure of hydraulic fracturing compound ingredients for years. Informed citizens do tend to make better decisions, so I'm happy some light will supposedly be shed in Colorado on the matter after April 1, even if 99 percent of us will probably need an interpreter or a hygiene series to understand. I wonder if it would be "economically feasible" to require drillers to post material safety data sheets for everything used, at the gate of each drill site.
Mr. Amant is not likely to be bogeyman. But what we don't know can hurt us. Table salt is not good for stainless steel (it's the chloride part, in solution), while too much of it is harmful to most humans' circulatory systems (that's the sodium). So how a substance is used, and where, is meaningful to even common, erstwhile innocent processes.
For another analogy, consider Rocky Flats. Plutonium there may not have hurt all of us, but it darned sure gave numerous site workers cancer. Another could be acid rain, which starts with emission of sulfur oxides from power plants and some other industrial facilities, even with "scrubbers." Try telling residents of Ontario that businesses throughout the Great Lakes Region did not intend to harm or mislead anyone in the 1970s and earlier.
It surely didn't require political hay for me to "get it" about nuclear power. I worked in that field (for a time not far from Longmont) and was paid well. But I figured out all the real costs and dangers before Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima. It occurred to me, and still does, that there was and is a good reason why insurance policies exclude radiation damages.
Besides the earthquakes fracking has apparently caused in Ohio and Oklahoma, there is a more pervasive accountability issue here. For example, assuming drillers post a damage bond, what amount might be needed to replace 1,000 square miles of aquifer, assuming such a thing could even be valued or tried? Explain liability to Gulf Coast residents who were led to believe even the Deepwater Horizon rig was "safe."
What I'd like to hear is why drilling continues as though the Mayan calendar is correct, while natural gas prices are setting record lows and have been since last fall. What I'd like to see incorporated in the "lesson" is less corporate propaganda and explicit threats about putative job creation. Yelling "fire" in a crowded theater may get you a choice of seats, but no one will applaud your insensitivity.
By the way, I am not and will never be a "potential ... politician."
Gregory Iwan, a Longmont resident, retired from university teaching in the field of environmental sciences in 2007.