In an open letter to Governor Hickenlooper, Be The Change Environmental Director, Phil Doe, responds to the house explosion that occured in Firestone on April 17th. Below is the complete text of the letter.
Almost two weeks ago two young men were killed and a woman, the new wife of one of the men, was critically injured when the couple’s home exploded in Firestone, Colorado. Eight days later Anadarko shut 3000 wells in the general vicinity of the destroyed home. Late last week, in the wake of the Firestone disaster, Great Western Oil and Gas shut down 61 of its wells with product pipelines that are within 250 feet of occupied buildings.
Our chief concern with the Firestone tragedy is that the state will cover up, disguise, or sanitize the findings, that it will not be honest with the people, that it will actively work to shelter the industry. Neither the Firestone fire department, with its limited technical resources, nor the state oil and gas commission should be in charge of this critical investigation. Thus, we ask that you call for an independent investigation by a disinterested scientific body, beholding to neither local nor state government. Dwindling public trust demands swift and strong state action.
This request is not overkill. In 2013, after the Poudre Valley flood, the state, with little to no independent information of its own, rubber stamped the industry’s declaration that despite numerous oil and gas facilities being flooded, with some being carried down river, the event resulted in minimal damage, with little risk to the public’s health or safety. Similarly, the state and its chief medical officer, Dr. Larry Wolk, have discounted two studies from the Colorado School of Public Health which document significant increases in leukemia and birth defects among individuals living near oil and gas wells.
We do not want these intemperate denials cavalierly repeated. Fugitive gas leakage into homes and businesses constitutes a dangerous and apparently imminent threat to the public’s health and safety. Blind deference to industry must cease. Colorado must accept its constitutional obligation to, first, protect public health and safety. Only an independent investigation will give the public confidence its interests are being protected.
Phillip T. Doe
Environmental Director, Be the Change