Oil and gas presentation dominate board meeting
By Rudy Hemmann
The Berthoud board of trustees heard from environmental researchers at Tuesday evening’s meeting.
The board was alerted to health risks associated with oil and gas development through the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
Detlev Helmig of the University of Colorado, Stephanie Malin of Colorado State University and Nathalie Eddy of advocacy group Earthworks were invited to speak before the board by Berthoud Mayor Will Karspeck, who pushed Tuesday night for a local ban on extraction. Any ban could only be placed on tracts over which the town has the power to enforce a ban.
The trio alerted the board to deleterious health risks from the fracking process as well as vapors, which cannot be detected by the naked eye, which often are released from storage tanks
While he acknowledged that regulation could reduce the health risks posed by hydraulic fracturing, Karspeck said that if the risks could not be eliminated, he would have misgivings about the oil and gas industry operating in Berthoud.
“In any other industry, if there were these types of impacts, we’d tell them we could no longer handle that and see how else they could produce their product,” he said. “I don’t believe this industry can.”
Karspeck also noted that action was being taken at the state level that may bring about legislation that would force changes to the way the oil and gas industry operates.
A moratorium on fracking within the town limits has been in place since March 2019.
Natalie Eddy, a representative of Earthworks, provided pictorial evidence, through the use of a specially modified digital camera, of vapors escaping from several well sites, storage tanks and other fracking facilities along the front range.
There was support from the board to find the costs associated with doing regular air quality monitoring in town. Staff was also tasked with “investigating how local abandoned well sites are currently monitored and managed.”
Town Forester Josh Embrey gave a report regarding the efforts by the town’s Tree Advisory Committee and forestry department to fight the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Embrey stated the Tree Advisory Committee recommended the trustees ratify the following major change:
To have the town pay the entire cost of chemically treating all trees in the right of way that measure 18 inches or larger. Currently the town will partner with the residents at a rate of 50% of the cost to treat the tree.
Karspeck volunteered himself to fill a vacancy on the Licensing Authority. Having him volunteer brings the three-member Authority to full strength. The other members are Municipal Court Judge Stewart Olive and Town Clerk Christian Samora.
Colleen Cutshaw, the town’s recently hired Public Information Officer, was introduced to the trustees.
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