Split Estate

Split Estate“Imagine discovering that you don’t own the mineral rights under your land, and that an energy company plans to drill for natural gas two hundred feet from your front door. Split Estate maps a tragedy in the making, as citizens in the path of a new drilling boom in the Rocky Mountain West struggle against the erosion of their civil liberties, their communities and their health.”

I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the new Documentary film  Spilt Estate by Debra Anderson. The film was brought to Carbondale by members of the Thompson Divide Coalition who are working to save public land in and around the Roaring Fork and Crystal Valleys from Oil and gas drilling.

For our community, the film is a cautionary tale. While the damage has already been done in communities like Silt and Rifle, we are still in a position to mitigate the impact that oil and gas drilling will have on our community, our watershed, and our health. The following are three interesting things I learned from watching this film.

1) Hydrolic Fracturing (Fracking), the process used to extract natural gas, injects toxic chemicals along with water in sand into the ground to create fractures that release the natural gas and allow it to flow to the surface. The chemicals being used are proprietary, and are not disclosed by companies for fear of losing their competitive edge.

2) There has been widespread documentation of serious health problems as a result of exposure to these chemicals. The film features interviews with many people whose health has been effected.

3) Under the 2005 Energy Policy act, the natural gas industry is exempt from The Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Recourse Conservation and Recovery Act, the Superfund Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. In other words, all of the regulations put in place to protect the health and safety of others do not apply.

View the Split Estate Movie Trailer.

9 Comments

  1. or just look at Google Earth… (along the I-70 corridor – Rifle)

  2. Seeing and living through the aftermath of major financial institutions being exempt from regulations, it’s frightening and maddening to imagine something of this magnitude not being held to strict enforcement when it comes to public health and safety.

  3. Or just drive over McClure Pass. A new drilling rig within the last month.

  4. After briefly reviewing several articles, interviews and Federal Court decisions on the above, I feel item 3)of the article is a bit misleading. Gas and oil companies’ drilling activities are most certainly regulated by different Federal and state agencies and the results monitored closely by the EPA. When time allows me, more research into the exemptions granted them, and why, should prove interesting. Thanks for sharing this Jen.

  5. Judy,
    I have a good link here that begins to describe the exemptions from regulation and disclosure for oil and gas industries: http://www.earthworksaction.org/COtoxics_reg_gaps.cfm

    I don’t understand it all myself yet, but as you said, this issue deserves a closer look, more research. Thanks for keeping the conversation going!

  6. This web site leaves absolutely no doubt they are exempt from the safety regs put into place for others, Bailey. Thanks for passing it along – I’ll keep searching as well.

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