Commentary

10 Foot Fireballs – Welcome to the Neighborhood

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The City of Farmington, New Mexico just announced a new neighbor – ten foot fracking flares downtown.

City officials urged residents not to worry, and that “these operations don’t typically cause any problems,” but especially considering the proximity of the basketball-hoop high flames to two nearby schools, residents have conveyed some serious cause for concern.

Fossil fuel companies hold a stronghold over Farmington, part of the Greater Chaco region. But just one hundred years ago, the area was a booming agricultural center between three rivers, and a leading producer of apples.

Since the first fracking wells bore through the landscape 60+ years ago, residents have witnessed waves of boom and bust. Now, with new horizontal fracking development strengthening industry’s vise grip on the area, the old “Farm Town” moniker may become nothing but an ironic reference.

It’s another example of how little people matter when it comes to the profits of the oil and gas industry. Throughout the Greater Chaco region, public health, clean air, the climate, and communities are being cast aside as companies put their bottomlines first.

Just last February, the Navajo Nation formally requested a moratorium on fracking in the Greater Chaco region.  This request has been summarily ignored by by the oil and gas industry and the federal government.  30 new fracking wells have been approved in the region since the request was made, a stunning slap in the face to a sovereign nation.

 

Moratorium and Navajo Nation

It doesn’t end there, though.  Aside from flaring in the middle of Farmington and turning a blind eye to the requests of Navajo Nation, we’ve seen explosions, thousands of spills, and the complete industrialization of what used to be a sacred and intact landscape.

And it’s not just Greater Chaco that’s suffering.  Take the latest news from Colorado where an oil and gas well pipeline caused a home to explode, sadly killing two and sending two to the hospital.

While the Governor of Colorado has called on companies to initiate inspections, it underscores that when it comes to the oil and gas industry, there is no such thing as safe.

Our hearts go out to the Firestone family that suffered such a tragic loss as a result of this disaster in Colorado.  We simply can’t afford to let this happen again anywhere.  It’s time to move beyond relying on dangerous fossil fuels.

House in Firestone, Colorado that blew up from oil and gas well pipeline.  Photo by Dennis Herrera, Denver Post.

A home explosion in Firestone Monday, April 17, 2017 killed two and sent two people to the hospital. Dennis Herrera/ Special to The Denver Post