Column, 298 words

Colorado’s Fracking Disaster

In Colorado's flood-struck areas, a tsunami of floodwater and destructive debris swamped fracking infrastructure.

Jim Hightower

As the people of Colorado are presently learning, it’s horrendous enough to suffer the ravages of a natural disaster, but it’s doubly horrific to then be faced with a more devastating unnatural disaster.

First came the epic floods that recently ripped through the front range, tearing up towns, roads, waterways, mountain homes and businesses, farms, and lives. Just awful.

But now comes the added horror of unknown levels of poisonous contaminants pouring out of many of the thousands of fracking sites that pock this area.

Big Oil frackers were already notorious in Boulder and Weld Counties for the environmental, health, and economic damage being done by this ravaging method of forcing gas out of the rock deep under Earth’s surface. Now, though, the corporate wells, tanks, ponds, and other fracking infrastructure have been swamped by a tsunami of floodwater and destructive debris.

Hightower-Fracking-East Boulder County United

East Boulder County United/Facebook

Even in the chaos of people scrambling to get out of the flood’s way and to secure their property, many residents were so alarmed by seeing this mess of flooded wells, overturned tanks of highly toxic chemicals and wastewater, and ruptured lines that they paused to take pictures and videos.

They then posted these on websites and Facebook pages to document this unexpected threat of widespread, long-term damage from fracking contaminants and to alert neighbors to the dangers.

After all, the frackers themselves weren’t telling the public about this unfolding disaster, the big media outlets were curiously incurious about it, and regulators were also silent. So, like the pamphleteers of old, the people formed their own network of communication — and they’ve now turned it into a citizens’ action network. To see some of their photos, videos, and actions, go to www.facebook.com/EastBoulderCountyUnited.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org