Speaking With a ‘Fractivist’: Data Acquisition to Federal Exemptions
by: Shane Davis, Fractivist.com Posted on: July 08, 2013
Editor’s Note: A written conversation between Read the Dirt editor Simon Davis-Cohen and Shane Davis. Davis has pioneered “a method of data acquisition” that has empowered him to use Colorado State’s own data to illuminate State negligence.
Simon Davis-Cohen: When was hydrofracking introduced in the State of Colorado and how did you become involved in the effort to oppose it?
Shane Davis: Hydraulic fracturing has been employed in the State of Colorado since the early 1950’s, as official documents show the use of ‘fracking’ in vertical wells was being used for oil.
I became involved in the opposition of fracking after I had received numerous phone calls from people who lived next to fracking well pads. These people were asking me for help digging up information on the frack-pads that were next to their homes. They told me about nosebleeds, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, burning eyes, rashes and much more. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s website was and is very non-user friendly for the general public to find data on a specific well that is of concern. I quickly found a method of data acquisition and have compiled shocking investigative studies showing that Colorado has not been protecting the citizens or the environment from the adverse impacts of extractive mining. Thus fractivist.com was born. Fractivist.com is an exposé of official industry failures and gross negligence. I also realized that not only was I assisting fracking victims with data, but I too was a victim and I did not know it. I lived in Firestone, CO (Weld County) for two years with over 75 active wells within a one mile radius of my home. What I didn’t realize was Weld County had over 18,000 active wells and now over two years later over 20,000 active wells in Weld County alone! It’s the highest density of active wells in Colorado and is said to be in the entire nation as well.
Once I realized I had the State’s official documents showing their failures I started analyzing it and running temporal trends and statistics. I have published my studies in a format called The Inconvenient Proof (a state of failures). I have debated nearly every state and public oil and gas official in Colorado and I invite the debate anywhere, anytime. I have an outstanding offer to show Governor Hickenlooper how he has failed to protect the citizens of Colorado from the many adverse impacts associated from mineral extraction that uses hydraulic fracturing. I created power point presentations showing the The Inconvenient Proof, where I set out to travel across Colorado and since have given over 200 public presentations, and have been in or technically advised documentaries for Nickelodeon and Showtime.
SDC: Can you briefly describe the specific work you are involved with? How do you envision this work helping stop hydrofracking in Colorado and beyond?
SD: I’ve helped dozens of grassroots organizations get started and supplied them with meaningful data that is specific to their backyard. I’ve been a part of or led efforts to establish seven moratoria on fracking and two bans on fracking in Colorado. Using the State’s data against them is an irrefutable position to place them in. They cannot deny their own officially documented failures as the data is theirs. If they say that their data is wrong, that’s great too. We win either way. We must continue to use the official failures of the state and hold them accountable. We must continue to empower the people with this data, and we will.
I provide data-mining workshops and lectures nationwide on oil and gas for Universities, conferences, public and private institutions to enable them with technical skills to empower their activism.
SDC: To what extent to do you view the difficulty of banning hydrofracking as a symptom of a more systemic problem within our legal structure/democracy?
SD: Too many politicians have a conflict of financial and political interest to vote with a sense of moral obligation. Moral obligations are being intoxicated by greed and political gain at the expense of the environment and human health. When one assumes there is an oligarchy that forces a manufacturer and consumer squeeze, what ‘choice’ does the public have? None. This is by design. They force us to buy what they have to sell. Banning fracking is certainly necessary to further prevent an environmental and human health catastrophe that is already underway. The federal exemptions the industry lavishes in are the culprit. Without the numerous exemptions like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and more…the oil and gas industry would be economically paralyzed and not able to function.
America does not have 100 years of natural gas. It’s a myth fed to us by the industry. The vast majority of this natural gas is already set to be ‘patriotically exported’ overseas to the highest bidder. Natural gas has nothing to do with American citizens but rather the <1%.
Americans need to realize that the industry has placed a huge amount of fear in them regarding national security, the Middle East dependence and more. What America needs to do to truly become independent and secure is create and utilize ‘healthy’ sustainable energies. We are smarter than a ‘second’ fossil fuel that will eventually run out all the while destroying our climate, environment and human health at its extractive expense.
SDC: What rights of Colorado citizens does hydrofracking impact? How?
SD: The civil rights to ‘safety’ and ‘protection’ are now gone via the oil and gas federal exemptions. This is an enormous blow to American humanity. We have no rights to protect our families and our environment from the myriad of toxic air emissions, groundwater contaminations, aquifer contaminations and more. Our civil rights have been stripped for the acquisition of greed. I wonder: does anybody truly know their civil rights have been taken away? This is not just a Colorado issue, but rather an American issue, and one that needs to be in court immediately.
SDC: Do you believe American localities possess an inalienable right to govern their health, safety, and welfare? How does an effort to ban fracking relate to localities’ right to govern their health, safety, and welfare?
SD: Yes, just as the 2nd Amendment allows us to bear arms against a tyrannical government or a system of oppression. The entire oil and gas industry is just that, a system of oppression. Our Civil Rights to safety and protection have been stripped from us and we must and will regain them through the necessary means. Localities must have rights to local governance in situations like this where the State has failed to prevent adverse impacts to the environment and human health from mineral extraction that uses hydraulic fracturing.
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