Planting Trees Is Good For The Soul

When we went to get pumpkins with our children, we decided to visit a nursery. Since we wanted to add trees to our landscape, and they were buy one get on 1/2 off, we purchased eight 5 quart trees. They sat in our backyard, sheltered against the fence for a week, until we figured out exactly where we wanted to plant them.

Since it was raining yesterday, I got to play in the mud! Anyone who thinks they know me, should also know that I love to play in the dirt. Mud is just wet dirt, so I love it too. What a fun project it was. We got to work together and put something natural in the earth that will grow and we can enjoy as long as we live in our home. I must say, my husband and I make a great team (most of the time). He let me master the soil composition ratios, depths, and locations of each tree. While he graciously dug, and did most of the hardest manual labor. I love my ox. Even though he does the brunt of it, I don’t get off easy at all. Oh no way. He expects me lift, dig, haul, and put in whatever I am capable of doing. My physical strength will just never measure up to his, no matter how determined I am.

Working with our hands and bodies is healthy, it provokes a sense of ownership to the work we are performing. Although we were both very sore afterwards, it was immediately rewarding. Now when I look out my kitchen window I see the trees I planted with my husband, and I get to watch them grow everyday.  Did I mention how it was also good for our marriage? We had to work together, cooperation is key in a marriage. We managed to problem solve and think long-term together.

No matter how stressed we can get at times, it is good for the soul to work towards something you can enjoy everyday.

Hickenlooper Tightening Belt on COGCC

Today it was a good day. I found out our Governor, John Hickenlooper, who is known for his business savvy, just issued an executive order tightening the reigns on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. See, the problem has been a conflict of interest in the mission of the agency. They are supposed to develop mineral rights, while also enforcing regulations that protect public health and environment. Let’s just put it this way, after months of in-depth research, I decided the agency is more focused on developing mineral rights than they are with protecting anything (other than the industry). Looking at the members of the board, they are all pro-industry. This means nobody cares about the public health and environment, they just do what is necessary to stay under the radar and make some serious money.

People are sick of it.
Enough people have stood up and made a stink that the COGCC is now being held responsible for their favoritism of industry. Even more amazing is that pro-money Hickenlooper is backing the public on this one, maybe that’s also a good business (ahem political) move.

The COGCC is instructed to review and adjust their regulatory framework, especially fines. Here are a couple of my favorite (emphasized by me) sections:

“The COGCC must structure these adjustments so as to hold the oil and gas industry to the highest operating standards in the nation for protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources.”

My favorite is item (6) of the penalty rules they are ordered to construct: “Make certain that any economic incentives for noncompliance with the Act and its regulations are eliminated.”

This is the biggest problem I think. There are rules, sure, of course there have always been rules. The agency doesn’t always (nor usually) enforce the rules, let’s just say they are a little “understaffed”. The amount of wells being drilled compared to the amount of people working in the agency who monitor or enforce regulations, sincerely reflects the agencies priorities. They say they can’t keep up, but on the same token, if they enforced the rules and imposed the penalties and fines accordingly, they would have more funding for staff to enforce regulations. If half the staff shifted to monitoring, rather than, I don’t know, say, approving new permits… The COGCC would be a completely different environment.

On a side note, but a very serious issue to be clear on. Mineral rights are separate from land rights. One person can own the surface, another “person” can own the minerals beneath it. Mineral rights trump land rights. This means the person who owns the mineral rights has to be allowed access to fully develop their right. In other words, if someone owns the mineral rights below your property they can pull permits with the COGCC to develop them whether or not you cooperate. Your land must be restored to it’s original condition to the best of their ability, but also “within reason”.