Peter Shelton

The Gasman Cometh

Posted in Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on January 13, 2012

The meek shall inherit the earth. But not the mineral rights.

Oilman and miser J. Paul Getty said that. He was the richest man in America in 1957 but famously had a pay phone installed in his own home.

The sentiment is truer than ever. The rush to develop natural gas wells across the country has resulted in fracking-induced earthquakes in Ohio, in poisoned water wells in Wyoming and now, in the words of BLM Uncompahgre Field Manager Barb Sharrow, the “firestorm” in Paonia. (more…)

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Unnatural Gas, Or The Wrong Way to Denver

Posted in Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on July 7, 2011

It wouldn’t have done to close my eyes while driving I-70 through Garfield County. But I was tempted, in order to shut out the hundreds of natural gas drill rigs and compressor fans and well heads and supply dumps and road cuts and rows of fracking-fluid semis and lumbering red Halliburton trucks in the right lane. (more…)

Guilty of What Exactly?

Posted in Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on March 12, 2011

So, Tim DeChristopher was found guilty last week of disrupting an oil and gas lease auction in Salt Lake City. (more…)

Having your cake and eating it too

Posted in Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on September 30, 2010

The vote of (informal) disapproval last week by the Ridgway Area Joint Planning Board on SunEdison’s plan to locate a 20-acre solar farm near Ridgway was disappointing. I thought we were more forward looking than that. (more…)

Rowing Uphill

Posted in Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on September 23, 2010

The red canoe out in the middle of West Passage was not making headway. It had an outboard motor – we could hear it buzzing away – but the little craft and its single occupant struggled mightily against the incoming tide. At times, it looked as if he was actually going backward. (more…)

Hand Me That Monkey Wrench

Posted in At the Movies, Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on June 10, 2010

Tim DeChristopher came to Mountainfilm representing a new generation of environmental monkey wrenchers. At least he hopes there is a growing cadre of young activists behind him.

At a breakfast panel called “Three Generations of Monkey Wrenchers,” DeChristopher, 28 (and awaiting trial for disrupting a BLM oil-and-gas lease sale in Utah), was the one with the close-cropped head and burning dark eyes.

Sitting in the middle was Dave Foreman, at 63, the gray-bearded co-founder of 1980s eco-saboteurs Earth First! And next to Foreman was 90-year-old river rat, protest singer and sometime nudist Katie Lee, who fought with all she had (and still does) the early-60s damming of her beloved Glen Canyon of the Colorado.

The passionate, uninhibited Lee, in fact, stole the show almost everywhere she went, but this morning she was equally matched. (more…)

When filmmakers become their stories

Posted in At the Movies, Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on June 3, 2010

Some documentary films advocate unapologetically for change. Gasland, for example, which screened last weekend at Mountainfilm.

Josh Fox’s personal journey of discovery through the natural-gas fields of Pennsylvania (his home state) and west to the Rocky Mountains is a forthright indictment of an industry largely unregulated, and stubbornly secretive, when it comes to the air and water pollution it creates. (In one harrowing scene, a Colorado man instructs his wife to dial “91”—and then keep her finger hovering over the final “1”—while he takes a lighter and ignites the stream of water from their kitchen faucet.) Fox’s film is designed to stir outrage and action.

Bag It is another one. (more…)

Tim DeChistopher’s Peaceful Uprising

Posted in Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on May 27, 2010

Clean-cut University of Utah senior Tim DeChristopher didn’t know what he was going to do when he walked into a Bureau of Land Management oil-and-gas lease auction in Moab. He just knew he had to do something.

“I thought of yelling something or throwing a shoe,” he said after his December 2008 arrest. “What I did was far more effective than I could have been with a shoe.” (more…)

Yard Sale

Posted in Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on October 17, 2009

In 2005 we learned that the mineral rights beneath our home were about to be sold to the highest bidder. I wrote this column after the auction at Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Denver.

Seven fifty-eight am. Bureau of Land Management State Office in Lakewood, Colorado. Two faded fiberglass Bambis cavort beside a closed-loop brook that emerges from behind the glass front doors. Inside, the brook burbles antiseptically. “They ought to put fish in there,” says a man in unscuffed cowboy boots. We’re early. Other bidders, some in western gear and some crossing their soft, Italian loafers, idle in line. In the awkward silence I flip a penny into the water, thinking about fountains and luck. It is the only foreign object, the only shiny thing in the dim hallway.

I am here at the quarterly BLM mineral lease auction to defend our Montrose County neighborhood. Or a portion of it, if I can. Three of the six property owners in our parcel have decided to pool what money we can afford and try to buy the lease ourselves. Try, in other words, to tie up the mineral rights for the ten-year life of the lease in order to prevent some oil-and-gas company from coming in and having its way with us. (more…)

Split Estate

Posted in At the Movies, Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on October 13, 2009

This is about Split Estate, a film on the oil and gas industry that should be required viewing for everyone living in Colorado, and indeed anywhere the drill rigs are going up.

But first, Scott McInnis needs to down a couple of pints of fracking fluids and relieve us finally of his presence on the political scene. The man is a menace. Our former Congressman is running for governor. (His six terms in Washington were notable for his opposition to wilderness and his repeated introduction of flag-burning amendments.) He is currently running around the state telling whoever will listen that the natural gas industry is leaving Colorado because of new regulations championed by Governor Bill Ritter.

It’s a flat out lie. (more…)