Three years ago, I heard a large fracking project was coming to my neighborhood. I did some research and everything I found brought more alarm, from the explosions to the health studies, it was obvious this didn’t belong in residential areas.
Our community decided to get involved in the process and honestly thought that citizen participation would change the tide of these massive industrial projects next to homes.
We tried everything. We went to every city council meeting with informed testimony, we appealed to our state representatives and supported minimal changes to regulations, we went to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission [COGCC] meetings and voiced our concerns. We even hosted a COGCC forum and meeting right here in Broomfield.
We took on the task of running a local ballot measure (301) which passed by a large majority, despite massive spending from oil and gas to defeat it. The measure mandated our city ensure the protection of health and safety was met before allowing oil and gas development to proceed. We literally tried everything.
Even with the undeniable risks of this project, with multiple explosions happening at various oil and gas sites during the approval process, with kids in Erie having large amounts of benzene in their blood, nothing changed the course. I believe that my own child may have experienced nosebleeds in correlation to a drilling operation happening in the vicinity of her preschool. The odors from this site were researched by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The findings in this report support that nearby drilling operations could have contributed to symptoms being reported. Even with stories like mine and others being shared, the project was approved by our local government and by the state.
Broomfield resident are still trying. We now have three active lawsuits challenging this project; one in local court, one in state court, and one in federal court. We are fighting for our constitutional rights to be upheld, and we are fighting for the ability to protect ourselves from harm. And still, this project moves forward. Sound walls are going up. Pipeline is being laid. We are helpless. Our rights and our health and safety are being harmed.
The state of Colorado has it wrong. The state is forcing its residents to accept dangerous operations into their communities. It is forcing residents to live with unacceptable air quality and irreversible damage being done to the environment. Mineral owners are being forced to give up their property to private corporations they may not want to do business with. The state is allowing all of us to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. They say it is okay to put explosive operations near homes and schools. This is not what our government was meant to do. Our government was meant to protect people. It was not meant to aid in the harm and destruction of our communities and our environment for the sake of a corporation’s bottom line.
Before this whole debacle started I was a lifelong Republican. As a result of this, I have unaffiliated from the party, but have yet to put a ‘D’ by my name. Honestly, I have yet to see the Democrats step up to respond to this crisis in a way that would compel me to do that.
It is up to our elected officials to right these wrongs. The industry is going to cry “overreach” on any reform that comes forward. Yet, the legislature has the power to stop the overreach of this industry that has been dominating our lives in Broomfield for the past three years. What we went through and are still enduring in Broomfield, no other community should have to deal with.
This is it. Time is up. No more excuses. Our legislature must rewrite the oil and gas laws so that there is no misunderstanding. The law needs to clearly state that protecting the health and safety of Colorado residents and protecting our environment is not optional, it is a mandatory condition that must be met.
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