A Letter to Governor Sandoval

— originally drafted by Christian Gerlach and edited by Vickie Rock

Dear Governor Brian Sandoval,

Can you please explain why the Nevada Division of Water Resources has denied new water wells to farmers and ranchers due to drought in northern Nevada, yet that same Division has approved permits for oil companies like Noble Energy, a corporation that plans to use millions of gallons of our ground water to hydraulically fracture in a known seismic zone?

Farmers and ranchers actually return something of value to humanity.  Frackers, on the other hand, infuse our limited water resources with hundreds of nasty chemicals, including known carcinogens like benzene and glycol-ethers (precursors to plastics).  In that process, the water consumed by frackers is rendered unusable, except for more fracking.

Governor, you are allowing state agencies, that are supposed to protect our citizenry and natural resources, to disregard measures that ensure the public’s safety. SB390, as passed, makes it such that companies like Noble Energy can literally frack Nevadans, without any fear of recourse for any misdeeds or damage the create environmentally or ecologically.

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is being paid by Noble Energy to do studies on the areas that are going to be fracked.  And, according to the Nevada Division of Minerals, the results of DRI’s study can be kept confidential at the request of Noble Energy for potentially, an undisclosed amount of time. Studies are NOT being done independently of Noble Energy, and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection won’t be required until 2015 to come out with its own study of fracking’s impact.  How is this not a conflict of interest? Something that puts people’s livelihoods on the line? The people of rural Nevada don’t have the luxury of LakeTahoe or LakeMead. Northern Nevadans have water wells that could easily be poisoned through fracking processes.

On March 13th 2013,  KNPR’s State of Nevada had Rayola Dougher, a senior economic adviser for the American Petroleum Institute, as a guest. She misled KNPR’s listeners as to the safety of fracking.  Ms. Dougher failed to mention that the process is exempt from seven major federal regulations:

Really?  Please explain how SB390 which you signed into law will protect our municipal water supplies.  I’d love to hear or read that explanation.

Another fact, which was taken offline by Nevada Public Radio (@KNPR), is that a man by the name of David Focardi commented about the interview.  Mr. Focardi commented that he had worked on oil rigs in Nevada and that there was fresh water up to 14,000 feet deep. I reached out to Mr. Focardi, but he has yet to answer any of my correspondence.

According to Mr. Lowell Price of the Nevada Division of Minerals, fracking would take place in the 7000 to 9000 foot depth range.  And while our ground water aquifers may be at depths of say 14,000 feet, our “ground” is riddled with fault lines. Those fault lines mean that there may not be an impervious layer of rock between where hydraulic fracturing is proposed to take place and the actual aquifer feeding our communities with drinking water.  Those fault lines may also provide connections between subterraneous channels and the different aquifers of water supporting our communities.  Once that water is contaminated, what happens to our communities.  The only good that may come from fracking, if you really can call that “good” — is that I guess that would mean you won’t be grabbing any of that water from contaminated northern Nevada aquifers for use in Las Vegas and its suburbs.  But then, that’s a whole different letter for another day.

Fracking processes require thousands of gallons of water-laden frack fluid PER MINUTE pumped under high pressures into deep horizontally drilled oil/gas wells.  Frack fluid could be released through a fault line or a fracture created by fracking into municipal ground water. When I spoke to someone at the Desert Research Institute they said that a geological study is being done and any “study” would remain the proprietary information of Noble Energy.  So, even if Noble Energy or the Desert Research Institute found fault lines they won’t be required to tell anyone about it.  Reliance on secret and proprietary studies conducted by organizations that would have significant incentive to conceal any information that might have an adverse effect on approval, is tantamount to malfeasance in governance on your part.

I realize that if Noble Energy had to release information as to where the oil is, that could allow other oil companies to come in and undercut Noble Energy.  But there needs to be a work-around to ensure our water resources are not placed at risk.  The risk to human health and life should matter more than any sum of profit for a single corporation.

So I ask you Governor why frack with us or allow others to do so? There is already oil drilling in Nevada done without Fracking. Why must we frack? I say bring oil jobs to Nevada if you must, but don’t frack!  Now the reason I post this is because of what you promote, Governor Sandoval.  You keep saying it’s about jobs and that Hydraulic Fracturing would bring jobs to Nevada. The truth is, these jobs won’t be widespread nor will they sustainable lest there are thousands of oil/frack wells, like there are in Texas or North Dakota.  But, Mr. Governor, we do NOT have the water resources to make that happen.  And what water we do have, won’t be usable for human consumption once Frackers are done with it.  So. Mr. Governor, when all is said and done, what jobs you create would be for naught, as without drinkable water, Nevadans will no longer be able to live anywhere near the wastelands created by the Frackers.


NV Assembly brings Nevada one step closer to marriage

equality.fwToday, the Nevada State Assembly approved SJR13, continuing the multi-year process of placing on the 2016 ballot a question to repeal Nevada’s current ban on same-sex marriage and replace it with a law granting marriage equality to all Nevadans. The same bill passed the state senate last month and now must be passed in the next legislative session in 2015 to continue the process.

Through phone calls, letters, and lobbying, you made sure your state assemblyperson knew that Nevadans stand on the side of fairness and equality.

This incredible victory is a testament to the leadership of Assemblyman James Healey and Assemblyman Elliot Anderson.

Now it’s time to say thanks.

These leaders have shown what equality really means – they shared their stories, opened up their lives, and lived the values of true leadership – all to ensure that SJR13 passed.

HRC is proud to work with our legislative allies and progressive organizations on the ground in Nevada. The journey is not over. We’ll need your help to reelect those legislators who stood up for fairness and equality and to win again in the next legislative session.

Marty Rouse
Human Rights Campaign, National Field Director

P.S. There was more good news out of Carson City today when Governor Sandoval signed a law that adds gender identity and expression to Nevada’s hate crimes law.

SSHIX Meeting Squelches Public Comments

Given Gov. Sandoval’s recent statements relative to whether to or not to bebin planning for implementation of NV’s Health Care exchanges, many where looking forward to being able to comment on his stance at Thursday’s Silver State Health Insurance Exchange Board meeting.  Public comments for the support of the ACA and Medicaid Expansion were not allowed or heard by the board.

The SSHIX (Silver State Health Insurance Exchange) Board executive director, opened the meeting with an announcement that, “Discussion of policy and specifically the Medicaid Expansion would not be heard in the meeting – policy would be addressed at a future meeting.” With that said, it pretty much squelched any public comments on support of the ACA and Medicaid Expansion.

Further, it was announced that the August SSHIX Board Meeting has been cancelled, and the rescheduled future date will be announced later. So supporters — stay tuned!

Additionally, it was mentioned on the call by the AG (Attorney General) office that, “The board meeting is not for questions and answers, but comments from the public.” The chair of the board, mentioned that if you have questions,“Please send an email with the question to the board and they will be addressed.” It was also said that questions could be asked at the Consumer Assistance Advisory Committee (CAAC) meetings. FYI, that the next CAAC meeting is Wednesday, July 25th (via Call in, Web Broadcast, and face to face in Carson City and Las Vegas). The petition will be sent to them.

So — road blocks were put up Thursday, and support for the ACA and Medicaid Expansion were not heard; but this was only a reminder that nothing worth having is ever easy — and affordable health care for all in Nevada is definitely worth having.

The only way to take advantage of these opportunities (e.g., making public comments on policy and having your questions and concerns answered by the board) is to be informed, know when these meetings are, and just get involved. NO PROBLEM!

Please email Athena Cox, Executive Assistant, Silver State Health Insurance Exchange,and request to be on the LISTSERVE for the upcoming SSHIX meetings and you will receive an email automatically with the meeting information and agenda. If you have any policy public comments or questions, you can also send them to Athena’s email atacox@exchange.nv.gov and she will forward to the appropriate person. The point is, you can be involved.

So supporters of the Nevadans Support the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion, be not discouraged, and do not be silent. Be involved – stay engaged!!

The Nevadans for the Affordable Care Act petition continues and will continue to be delivered to the governor, state elected officials, and others until the governor makes a decision. As of this writing, the petition count is 2543 – the momentum is growing – but more signatures are needed.

Implementing health care coverage for all is too important and we citizens must not stop now. Let’s keep the petition going — 3,000 signatures and even more, by the end of the week, WE CAN DO IT! Please pass the petition on in support of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion.

Thank you FOR ALL that you do!

— Alise & John Davis