Saguache County Commissioners-Natural Gas Drilling
To the Saguache County Commissioners: We, the undersigned, are your constituents and appreciate your willingness to listen to us. We believe that you are as concerned for the greater good as we are. We are absolutely opposed to any drilling on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge until the following concerns are thoroughly analyzed and assessed and are soliciting your support in addressing each of the following issues: A)The San Luis Valley aquifer consists of both the shallow unconfined and the deeper confined aquifer system. Water from this aquifer is used to meet national and international obligations of the Rio Grande Compact. The water from this aquifer is also the lifeblood of the Valley. It is our only source for drinking and agricultural water. The potential for pollution from drill sites is a serious one. B) To date there is no Comprehensive Management Plan for the Refuge. There have been no biological or archaeological surveys done. While we understand that an Environmental Assessment has been done we are concerned that because of the sensitive nature of the Wildlife Refuge, it is by no means adequate enough to address the long term effects of drilling. We must insist that an Environmental Impact Study be done to protect the very unique ecosystem of the Refuge. Because of the sensitive nature of the Wildlife Refuge, we feel it is imperative that the Management Plan and all surveys and studies be in place before any drilling commences so that the refuge can meet its statutory mandates and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. C)The proposed drill site is a riparian and recharge zone and the threat of environmental damage must be assessed. D)There is but one road, County Road T, that provides access in and out of the Crestone area. The increased traffic of heavy trucks will be be a safety issue for all of us. An accident can block the road and make the area inaccessible even to emergency traffic. E)The local volunteer fire and ambulance services are in no way equipped, trained or staffed to handle oil or gas emergencies. Time is needed to assess the needs of and costs to the local emergency services to prepare them in case of an emergency. F)The number of large trucks moving in and out of the Refuge, on dirt and gravel roads, will significantly add to dust pollution of the air we breathe. The impact of possible health problems must be assessed before drilling is started. G)Any increase in revenue for the county will be more than offset by the damage to our roadways by the increase in heavy truck traffic. The county needs time to study this issue and implement a plan for recovering the costs of damage to our roads done by the drilling operations traffic. H)The San Luis Valley has an economy in place that goes back many generations. The Valley is known nation wide for its agricultural products and it is a center for tourism. People come from all over the world to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park and other natural settings. The spiritual and religious centers are a vital source of revenue for the entire area. Oil and gas exploration can not coexist with the existing economy and we believe the economic impact must be analyzed before any drilling takes place. G)Last, but not least, the Valley is known for its abundant sunshine. Nearing completion at this time is one of North America's largest solar electric generating plants and another will soon begin construction. Renewable energy is the future of the health of the planet and we ask our representatives in government to assist us in designating the San Luis Valley as a Green Zone. These are but some of our concerns and we are asking you to stand with us and do everything possible to see to it that these concerns are completely and adequately addressed before any drilling actions are taken.