It was easy to find the Oil & Gas Commission meeting last week in Sidney because a hundred or so people were gathered at their door waiting to get in. High school students, science teachers, ranchers & farmers, property owners, Nebraskans of every age & description made up the group from across the state, most were from the Panhandle. Not all gained entrance, but the lucky ones got to hear testimony from 47 very concerned citizens. Each one who spoke was well informed and articulate, and all agreed that the Terex Oil Co— or any other — must not use the Ogallala Aquifer for disposing of millions of gallons of chemically laden contaminated fracking wastewater from Colorado and Wyoming. The Commission was asked to delay the application process until Nebraska has regulations and rules in place. Colorado and Wyoming have already enacted such laws for their states’ protection.

The first speaker, a farmer with experience working in the oil fields, brought visual aids for his testimony. He poured clean water into three glasses and added fracking sludge, which turned it a nasty brown. He said the board claimed the fracked water was safe, and were asked to drink it. They declined. Other testimony said wells will leak, casings will crack, and there will be no way to clean up the Aquifer once it’s contaminated. It is forever.

Senators Harr and Stinner testified in favor of a moratorium on immersion wells plus further study. So far the commission hasn’t made a ruling on the controversial proposal. They chose to delay to think it over more carefully. In the meantime, environmental group Bold Nebraska has launched a petition for public support against the fracking dumpsite.

Shirley Sullivan

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