The Time is Now
By Hollis Berendt
We moved to Greeley, Colorado in 1978. We thought we’d stay a few years and move back to Ohio where our parents lived, but we fell in love with the clean air, wide streets, dry climate and proximity to the mountains we loved to hike. Greeley was a wonderful place to raise children, so we stayed. We didn’t have to worry about the air our children breathed or the water they drank. But it is a different place now. Our most basic needs are being fouled as Weld County is the most fracked county in the state. Our city of Greeley could have over 500 wells in the near future if policies don’t change. These wells are currently planned, or are already within close proximity to schools, parks, The Poudre River Trail and homes. In the 1990’s Greeley tried to fight oil and gas development. Unfortunately, in the case of Voss vs. Lundvall, Greeley lost and gave up trying to defend its citizens from the perils of oil and gas development.
Super storms, fires, drought and agricultural disasters are occurring all over the world, and we have recently seen the dramatic effects of climate change right here in Weld County. On Friday, September 13, northern Colorado suffered a “1000-year flood”. Homes were washed away, rivers changed course ‑ perhaps permanently ‑ oil and gas tanks were toppled and subsequently dispensed their toxic soup into the waters. People lost all of their dear possessions and others lost loved ones. People with homes were unable to heat them, and some could not drink the water or flush their toilet. Others were without power.
We cannot continue to deny that our actions have consequences. The clock is running out. Oil and gas development is polluting our water and air, heating the planet and delaying the development of clean energy. This is all done under the false premise that we need this fuel but, the true reason is the lure of short-term monetary gain. I’m tired of hearing that we need to make sure that development of oil and gas be conducted in the safest manner possible. I cannot in good conscience pretend that safety measures are adequate. I become discouraged every time I hear someone say, “Oil and gas is here to stay.” It only will be if we collectively continue to allow it to happen! If the oil and gas industry continues to extract fossil fuels from the ground, we will set ourselves on a path to extinction. We are not leaving the planet better than we found it, and we are sacrificing our air, water and the health and safety of our children. Let us learn from recent experiences, here and all over the world. Climate change is the most critical issue of our time and it is here now. The future will be unlivable unless we keep fossil fuels under the ground.
I have been a part of several groups standing up against fracking. I have begun to see many people attend health forums on the effects of hydraulic fracturing. The grassroots group Weld Air and Water is an information clearinghouse, an advocate for health and safety and a community organizing force for stopping oil and gas development in our neighborhoods. The Plains Alliance for Clean Air and Water is an organization dedicated to enhancing public understanding of the effects of the shale gas industry by collecting, researching, interpreting and sharing information through its Facebook page and the FrackFiles page. Their focus is to share objective, helpful information – to spread awareness and support actions that protect public health, the environment and socioeconomic well-being.
Food & Water Watch, Weld 350 and Occupy Greeley will host an event on Saturday, October 19 at Farr Public Library at 3:00 as part of the worldwide Global Frackdown. We will view and discuss the film “Earth 2100.” This event is one of many action events taking place as part of the Global Frackdown, a day that will connect our struggle with those of communities around the world. Attend, learn, raise your voice and become part of this global movement…because the time is now.
Join or host a Global Frackdown event in your community to tell your local elected officials that our future will not be fueled by fracking.
Hollis Berendt, a local coordinator for Food & Water Watch, is a retired teacher, an eco-broker and eco-consultant, and has been trained by the Climate Reality Project.