GarCo commissioners get special screening of gas-drilling film ‘Split Estate’

The Garfield County commissioners Monday will get a personal screening of the award-winning new documentary “Split Estate,” detailing environmental problems stemming from the most recent natural gas drilling boom in the central Rockies of Colorado and in New Mexico.

“What you don’t know CAN hurt you,” is the tagline for the film, named for division between mineral rights owners and surface owners which often leads to conflicts over air and water quality.

YouTube trailer after the jump.

The tagline, according to industry opponents, could just as easily apply to the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or injecting gas wells with high-pressure water, sand and undisclosed chemicals to crack open tight rock formations and free up more gas.

Mounting evidence of groundwater contamination from “fracking” has led to proposed federal legislation to remove a Safe Drinking Water Act exemption for the practice that was granted during the Bush administration in 2005.

The Garfield County commissioners last month put off voting on a resolution supporting or rejecting the so-called FRAC Act, introduced by U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Jared Polis, D-Boulder, until they had a chance to view “Split Estate” and gather additional information.

Now they’ll have a chance to see the film at 1:15 Monday in the Garfield County Commissioners room in Glenwood Springs. That screening is open to the public, according to the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent.

The film then shows at 7 that evening in Aspen at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, and again the next day in Carbondale at 7 p.m. the Gathering Center at the Church of Carbondale on Snowmass Drive.

Both evening showings are sponsored by the Thompson Divide Coalition, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Environmental Foundation, according to the paper, and producer Debra Anderson will attend and answer questions. The film then debuts nationally on Planet Green, a Discovery channel, on Oct. 17 and Oct. 22.

New Castle resident and community activist Tara Meixsell is an associate producer and Garfield County consultant on the film who gave the Colorado Independent a sneak preview last month when she talked about a scene in which Colorado Oil and Gas Association lobbyist Kathy Hall talks about putting fracking fluids in her mouth.

“It would be a dream come true if we could all feel that way, that frack fluids straight from a truck would be fine to have in our mouth, but I’m not going to sit here and assume that an industry that has been tracked using toxic chemicals is going to self-regulate and still be undisclosed and assume that all frack fluids can be safely held in one’s mouth,” Meixsell said.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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