[From an email to a friend, Dec 5, 2012, the day after the tumultuous public meeting of the Boulder County Commissioners in Dec 4, 2012, which was delayed for 30 minutes of citizen protest against fracking: 
When I got home after last night’s events, I was playing my guitar just to relax….but had the urge to say something about what I’d seen that night…which was pretty special….and this is what I wrote down. 
It’s been well received on Facebook, particularly by the mother of the young Earth Guardian it mentions….she wanted to share it, which I was glad to do.
I kind of had the tempo of Dylan’s song Tempest going through my head at the time, to get the rhythm right..a 4/4 waltz,…]
When The Children Broke The Law
(by Rick Casey, after observing the Boulder County Commissioners meeting, 4 Dec 2012)
Well the town it was assembled
And the commissioners all filed in
To take their seats at the high table
And have the meeting begin.
But before the meeting got started
Before it had really begun,
A “mic check!” rang out loudly,
And the chorus line was sung.
The commissioners were silenced,
There was nothing they could do,
As Occupiers spoke out
And kept speaking until they were through. 
They expressed their opposition
To hydraulic fracturing
In so many ways they spoke out
How it would be so damaging.
But then the youngest one among them,
An Earth Guardian I believe, 
Started a long rap that spoke what
All the crowd believed.
That fracking should never happen,
That fracking should be banned
And forever kept from coming 
And practiced in our land.
And then the children acted
With cheers the crowd applaused
When the young Earth Guardians
Stood up and broke the law.
The commissioners had crept out
Unnoticed and ignored
And left their chairs unguarded
Which the children now took hold.
They all marched up to the high table
As natural as could be
And acted like our leaders
Though it was a fantasy.
They shouted out of impulse
Out of temporary glee,
Who was against this fracking?
All hands went up joyously.
A policeman gently crept up
Who meekly asked them please,
To step down from this table
And end this fantasy.
The young Earth Guardians hesitated
Not sure if they should go
But one by one they stood up
And stopped their little show.
But it was a magic moment
As everyone there saw
It was a magic moment
When the children broke the law…

Why fracking in Boulder County would be a tragedy…

[This is rather last minute plea that I submitted to the Boulder County Commissioners on December 4, 2012, the day that are to announce their decision on what to do about fracking on Boulder County land.]

Dear Boulder County Commissioners,

Today you will decide on how fracking will be allowed on Boulder County lands — whether to extend the moratorium, regulate it as an industrial activity or ban it outright. 
I would like to make you aware of a newly published report by no less than the World Bank — a rather credible source of information. 
Titled “Climate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century”, (which you can read here) it conveys a strong and stark message: we must begin to switch the energy basis of our economies from fossil fuels to non-polluting alternative energy sources within the next 15 years, or else suffer increasingly extreme weather events — so dire that the collapse of human civilization will be a near certainty by the end of the century if we fail in this task. 
This is no joke. And natural gas is not a “bridge fuel.” We need to start the mitigation efforts to reverse gobal change here in Boulder County NOW! 
I know this means painful decisions must be made — politically, financially, emotionally — but we have no choice. Science, logic and reason are compelling us. We know in our hearts that our own conscience compels us. We all know that our love of Nature, and why we enjoy living in Colorado, compels us. 
This will be a historic decision. Stand with the brave sixty percent of Longmont who voted to do the right thing, in the face of threats from our governor and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. You should all do the right thing too; it will be a sad and tragic page in Boulder’s proud history if you do not.
Sincerely, 
Rick Casey
Lafayette, CO
instructor, Environmental Economics, Front Range Community College

Connecting the dots on fracking: the Halliburton Loophole

[This is a letter I sent to Mother Jones magazine on November 9, 2012, asking that they do an article on how the national fracking campaign developed, which I believe was consciously created by Dick Cheney and lawyers from the oil and gas industry in the early 2000’s, resulting in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which created the infamous “Halliburton Loophole.”]

Hello Mother Jones, 

I am a subscriber to your magazine, and really enjoy your quality investigative journalism. 
I would like to suggest that you do a story that would have national significance on the topic of fracking, global climate change, and the actions of the multinational oil and gas corporations to fight the global need to transition our economies off of fossil fuels and into alternative, renewable energy. 
I have taught environmental economics at Front Range Community College here in Colorado since 2009. I’ve watched with growing alarm over the past three years as the growth of fracking has rapidly advanced, and is now threatening my own town of Lafayette in Boulder County. It has taken me some time to connect the dots as to how this occurred, and which I believe many of your readers would like to read about. I know you have reported on this before, on how the Halliburton Loophole was created by the 2005 Energy Policy Act, but I’ve not seen any article anywhere to take the angle I am suggesting. 
What I have not read about anywhere is an in-depth article that documents how Dick Cheney was instrumental in putting the language into that Act which specifically exempted the hydraulic fracking industry from our federal environmental laws. I recall that there were news articles around the time of the second reelection of the Bush administration about how Cheney was held in contempt of court and refused to file required reports about his meetings with oil and gas representatives (see here).  I believe that in these meetings, Cheney and lawyers working for the oil and gas industry were creating a national legal strategy to exempt fracking from federal legislation, knowing that then local communities would all be on their own to resist these large oil and gas corporations. I am unclear as to what ever happened to these court contempt charges that were brought against Cheney.
This strategy has been largely successful in states with poor rural regions like eastern Colorado, central Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota and Texas, where local citizens need the income, and believed the industry’s reassurances that this technology is safe. But in more affluent and educated communities, such as New York State, Pittsburgh and Boulder County in Colorado, local citizens have organized to resist allowing fracking in their environment. Longmont, CO just successfully passed a ban on fracking inside their city limits by a decisive margin, and are now about to be sued by the state of Colorado, due to the pro-industry leaning of our governor, John Hickenlooper (or Frakenlooper, as me and my fellow activists like to refer to him!). Such is the results of this national campaign of the oil and gas industry, but it has stirred up a storm of grass roots resistance to it, which is getting increasingly organized and connected. An article such as I am suggesting would help to strengthen and unite this awareness, and lend support to efforts at the state, and eventually federal, levels to regulate fracking, if not eventually outright ban this toxic and highly environmentally damaging technology. 
I believe if more Americans were shown how this national legal strategy by the oil and gas industry was created, especially with willing cooperation of a vice president that was a past CEO of a major oil and gas corporation, that they would begin to connect the dots, and be rightfully indignant that such abuse of our federal government has gone unreported and unpunished.  
Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, 

— Rick Casey

East Boulder County United (against tracking)
—————————————————————————-
Rick Casey :: caseyrick@gmail.com :: 303.345.8893

Boulder County Planning Commissioners: Extend the fracking moratorium!

[These are remarks I made to the Boulder Planning Commissioners on October 17, 2012, as part of the public input process. I was among the dozen or so persons who spoke out against fracking, while there were two people who spoke in support. ]

Greetings Commissioners,
My name is Rick Casey, and I live at 1118 Centaur Circle in Lafayette.
Thank you for this opportunity to express my concerns about fracking, which I consider a dangerous and unwise policy to allow on county lands. I’ve taught environmental economics at Front Range Community College since 2009, and have become firmly convinced that fracking is a wrong and unnecessary policy of resource development. We should instead be investing in alternative energy, and building the base for a truly sustainable energy future, instead of the short term opportunistic policy of hydraulic fracturing.  
I last spoke to you on Sept 24, and spoke in support of extending the county moratorium on fracking. I am actively engaged with other citizens to petition the city councils of Lafayette and Louisville to pass their own moratorium on fracking within their city limits, and to allow us the time to put this to a vote by their city residents in 2013. To date, we have collected approximately 1,200 signed petions of citizens of Lafayette and Louisville that states their support for such a moratorium. I am in the process of organizing this data into a database, and creating an online petition signup, where we expect to collect much more support for this measure. We believe that when the public learns and understands the potential for fracking to ruin their environmental quality, and expose them to serious health hazards, that the great majority of them will be against it. We believe a similar survey should be done of Boulder County residents, and I would be glad to share this tool with your staff to do so. 
The EPA is currently conducting a comprehensive study of fracking that I urge the Commissioners to consider. This large scale study was started in 2011, and preliminary results from it will available later this year. A 170 page report that describes the study is currently available on their website, and I would like to forward this document to your staff for their review. The study will be completed in 2014, and will contain detailed reviews of fracking from a comprehensive and scientific viewpoint, suitable as a basis for making informed policy decisions. 
It is my sincere hope that the EPA’s findings will lend conclusive support for passage of the FRAC Act, which has been before the US Congress since 2009, sponsored by our own representatives Jared Polis and Diana DeGette, which would close the Halliburton Loophole, and put fracking under regulation of the EPA, which, in my humble opinion, is where it should have been regulated from the beginning.  
Thank you.

Remarks on fracking to the Boulder County Commissioners

[Remarks I made to a meeting of the Boulder County Commissioners regarding oil and gas development in Boulder County, in the public meeting room, 3rd floor, Boulder County Courthouse, Sept 24, 2012. I was about 10th in line, right after Carolyn Bninski from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. The meeting was packed, to standing room only, where the oil & gas spokespersons got to speak first for about an hour. Thereafter, the public was allowed to make comments within three minute periods or pooled periods up to twelve minutes….quite the contrast.]
Good evening Commissioners:
My name is Rick Casey, I have lived at 1118 Centaur Circle in Lafayette since 2003, and have been a Colorado resident since 1981. Thank you for this opportunity to express my concerns as a Boulder County resident.  I am speaking as a concerned citizen, and as a member of East Boulder County United, an anti-fracking citizen’s group based in Lafayette.
I hope the Commissioners will decide to postpone approval of the proposed oil and gas development regulations, due to the dangerous and risky hazards posed by fracking. I believe fracking should be banned outright in Boulder County, but recognize the regulatory constraints within which the County must act.  
I have been teaching environmental economics at Front Range Community College since fall of 2009, and have watched with growing alarm as I learned more and more about the dangerously toxic nature of fracking, and, more importantly, the lack of proper regulation of this industry, at the federal, state and local level.
There are many, many anecdotal stories of people who have been sickened, their water wells poisoned, and even forced off their land by the pollution caused by fracking that destroyed their property. Go watch the documentary Gasland; or watch the sequel to it, a video called “The Sky Is Pink”; you will be shocked at what you will see, such as the Weld county resident who can light his water well on fire due to nearby fracking. Then go to YouTube and search on fracking: you’ll get over 10,000 hits, many of them devastating stories of people from across the country who have been harmed by the poisoning of their environment.
This industry is vastly under-regulated, and the oil and gas industry has consciously sought to keep it so. I believe this industry and its spokespeople are knowingly deceiving the public and government regulators about the dangers of fracking. Their explicit intention is get their wells drilled, and their money out, before proper environmental regulations are imposed on them. I hope the Board and Commissioners will be aware of the aggressive nature of this strategy, and not be pressured into any quick decisions.
The fact that hydraulic tracking fluids are exempt from our most powerful environmental laws, due to the 2005 Energy Policy Act, known as the “Halliburton Loophole”, is an outrageous travesty that has effectively rigged the regulatory table heavily in the favor of the oil and gas industry. New legislation that would close this loophole, the Fracking Responsibility and Chemical Awareness Act, was introduced in 2009 to the Congress in the House and Senate, and was sponsored in part by Jared Polis and Diane Digette.  I suggest that the commissioners become familiar with this proposed legislation, which would put fracking under regulation by the EPA, where it belongs.
But the real dangers of fracking are largely unknown, because it has never been subjected to proper evaluation for its environmental risks. The EPA is conducting such a study right now, a large scale, rigorous analysis, that was started in 2011, which you can find on their website. Preliminary results will be available later this year, with final results available in 2014. I believe the Commissioners should wait for the results of that study before proceeding. 
Another important source of information that I hope the Commissioners will consider is to invite Shane Davis to come and testify for you regarding the toxic environmental effects of fracking. 
[This is where my 3 minute limit cut me off, but the following is what I would have said in conclusion…]
He used to live in Firestone, a community that has been heavily invaded by fracking, but was forced to move for the sake of his and his family’s safety, and now lives in Ft Collins.  He is a professional biologist, is head of the Poudre Canyon Sierra Club chapter and has done an extensive analysis of the data from the COGCC website regarding accidents from  surface spills, subsurface pollution, and violations of the setback provisions where wells have been located within the setback limits. He can also provide scientific information on the toxicity of the chemicals that fracking puts into the environment, especially the invisible air pollution from producing gas wells. I have seen his presentation twice now, and believe he has built up a considerable case that shows that the state regulation of fracking has dramatically failed to protect its citizens and the environment from this hazardous activity.  I think the Commissioners would be very interested in what he has to say, and the analysis that he could provide you.
Thank you. 

[This is an email that I sent to Danielle Forrest, who addressed the adjunct faculty at an administrative meeting at the beginning of the fall semester at Front Range Community College, in her capacity as the administrator of a new program, Veteran Services, August 16, 2012. She spoke rather strongly against singling out veterans in class, which I can understand; but she crossed the line when she said that “liberal minded” instructors should “keep their opinions to themselves” about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I wrote her this email the following day…]

Dear Ms. Forrest,

I am an adjunct faculty member in the Behavioral and Social Science department at FRCC’s Larimer campus, and attended the required in-service meeting last night, where I heard your presentation about the new veteran services that is being offered. I have taught environmental economics there since fall 2009.

While I agree this type of service is needed and will help some veterans, I was offended by your calling out “liberal” instructors who might make some comment in class against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would never single out any veteran in my class out of compassion at a human level, and sympathize with the human condition of people who have fought in combat. However, the tone of your delivery bordered on asking us to self-censure ourselves regarding our opinions of these tragic, and very wrong, actions of our American military — and that is the wrong position for you to be in as an impartial service administrator.

I hope you are aware of the news stories on military suicide statistics; I just googled it, and got over a million hits. To quote one such article, published June 2012:

“NATO combat operations in Afghanistan are expected to draw to a close by the middle of next year and the U.S. completed its withdrawal of troops from Iraq last December. But while fewer American soldiers are in the line of fire each day, new Pentagon statistics show that an average of one military suicide occurred each day in the first six months of 2012, the fastest pace in the past ten years. The statistics reported by The Associated Press show that military deaths from suicide outweighed combat deaths by a two-to-one ratio, a dramatic uptick since 2010 and 2011 when military suicides decreased from previous years.”

I am no expert, but I suspect this is without precedent in military history. It is a continuing saga that saddens me personally; but what saddens me more is the blindness of Americans who are in denial as to the source of the problem. More than twice as many military deaths from suicide than from combat; why? Because these people, many of whom are quite young and without much life experience, have been put into the impossible position of fighting in a war and occupying these countries on a huge scale that makes no sense in the first place. That is what causes them to turn to drug addition, to violence against their loved ones, their community, and ultimately themselves.

Our country should never have invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in the way that it did. It was a stupid and impulsive reaction to the 9/11 bombings that appealed only to the basest instincts of wanting to fulfill an outlet for our hurt and pain, but in a way that amounted to bullying and fueling a bloodlust. It laid waste to these countries’ economies, devastated their infrastructure and their environment for decades to come, caused the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians and has never come close to fulfilling the empty promise of rebuilding those countries as we declared we would do. It has only made the problem that much worse, creating a breeding ground for the hatred that fueled the attacks against America in the first place. If we fail to learn from these mistakes, such violence will continue to perpetuate itself.

I will never cease to speak out against these unjust wars, and the violence that our military continues to inflict on the world and the environment. The military-industrial complex that powers the Pentagon is a huge and tragic economic waste, and those resources would be much more productive if directed elsewhere — in way that makes human sense, instead of human destruction.

Sincerely,
Rick Casey
Economics Instructor,

Front Range Community College
hugh.casey@frontrange.edu