MESA COUNTY, Colo. - Members of Western Colorado Congress (WCC) organized a flyover of the site for the proposed Fram Whitewater oil development project on Tuesday, August 15.
The plan proposes 108 new oil wells on 12 new well pads over a period of four years, and eleven of the pads would be located on BLM land. One of the well pads would be on private surface land with federally owned minerals underneath it.
The Master Development Plan for this proposal was first submitted in 2011, and now the updated version of the environmental assessment includes an analysis on hydraulic fracturing. Fram Operating, LLC now believes hydraulic fracturing will be the most effective way to access the oil in the Mancos Shale Formation. The updated environmental assessment can be found at this link: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/61293/111074/135993/Updated_Whitewater_EA_2017_Preliminary.pdf
The main concern of those with WCC was the proximity of the plan to the Greater Grand Junction watershed. Many at the event wondered about the potential impact to water, and are worried about possible contamination. "If the BLM can analyze for an alternative that completely takes the risk away from the watershed, I bet we would look at this proposal differently," said Emily Hornback, a community organizer with Western Colorado Congress.
Some thought the flyover was a counter-productive way for WCC to make their point. "I think it's highly ironic that in trying to keep it in the ground they burn over 100 gallons of fuel in an Eco-Flight to stop the very project that's allowing them to do that," said David Ludlam of the West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association. Ludlam also added that this project has been studied for around a decade.
One resident of Whitewater voiced her concerns about the project. "I have a responsibility to be as kind to the planet as I can be, and this is not being kind," said Anne Brost, a Benedictine nun who has lived in Whitewater for 46 years.
According to Fram, the project would produce around 8.7 million barrels of oil over 20 years and provide about 70 jobs through both construction and year-round jobs.
Public comments on the project must be submitted by August 28 and can be mailed to the BLM office addressed as follows - ATTN: Whitewater MDP, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652. They can also be emailed to email@example.com.