Tag: fracking

Colorado Health Study Finds Significant Risks From Fracking

A long-delayed public health study commissioned by Colorado regulators found that oil and gas drilling poses health risks at distances greater than current minimum “setback” distances, a development that is poised to send shockwaves through a regulatory environment already in a state of transition and uncertainty.

“Exposure to chemicals used in oil and gas development, such as benzene, may cause short-term negative health impacts…during ‘worst-case’ conditions,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a press release. “The study found that there is a possibility of negative health impacts at distances from 300 feet out to 2,000 feet.”

The state’s current rules require new oil and gas wells to be at least 500 feet from single-family homes and 1,000 feet from high-occupancy buildings. Proposition 112, the statewide ballot measure pushed by environmental groups and defeated by Colorado voters in 2018, would have imposed a 2,500-foot minimum.

State toxicologist Kristy Richardson said in a press conference Thursday afternoon that the results of the study are consistent with the health impacts that have been reported by Colorado residents near oil and gas sites in recent years.

“We’ve received, since 2015, about 750 health concerns that have been reported through our hotline,” Richardson said. “About 60 percent of those concerns reported to us are things like headaches, nosebleeds, respiratory issues, skin irritation.”

The study, conducted by consulting firm ICF International, is one of the most comprehensive analyses of its kind, and was submitted for peer review and publication in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association. Its modeling is based on air samples collected near oil and gas sites along the Front Range and in Garfield County on the Western Slope.

“I haven’t come across any data like this in the world,” state epidemiologist Mike Van Dyke told CPR News when the study was first announced in 2017.

“This study is the first of its kind because it used actual emissions data to model potential exposure and health risks,” John Putnam, the CDPHE’s environmental program director, said in a statement on the study’s release.

The study is also consistent with a large body of existing health and environmental research finding risks associated with oil and gas development. A 2016 analysis published in the scientific journal PLOS One reviewed nearly 700 peer-reviewed studies on the health impacts of fracking and found that 84 percent of them “contain findings that indicate public health hazards, elevated risks, or adverse health outcomes.”

As it faced repeated delays over the past two years, the study achieved a somewhat mythical status in environmental-advocacy circles. Anti-fracking activists were suspicious when the study’s initial release was pushed back until after the 2018 election, when Coloradans voted on Proposition 112.

Oil and gas groups, in turn, speculated earlier this year that the study’s release was being delayed until Democrats could pass Senate Bill 181, a package of oil and gas reforms that strengthened health and safety protections and granted local governments greater authority to regulate drilling.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which is already undertaking an overhaul of its rules following the enactment of SB 181, but has not halted any permits during rule making, issued a response to the study that outlined a series of immediate changes to its review processes.

“Working with our partners and CDPHE, we will immediately enact stricter and safer precautionary review measures to protect public health, safety, welfare, the environment,” COGCC director Jeff Robbins said in a statement.

Those measures include ensuring that “a protective review will occur for all wells under 2,000 feet from well to building unit.” Following the passage of SB 181, the agency had already said it would subject permits under 1,500 feet to additional review.

Anti-fracking group Colorado Rising, which has called on the state to impose a moratorium on new drilling permits, said the study highlights the inadequacy of the state’s approach to regulating oil and gas. Anne Lee Foster, the group’s communications director, pointed to cases in which residents impacted by fracking have undergone blood tests showing elevated levels of benzene — which researchers wrote was the “critical toxic effect” identified by the study.

We have a lot of corroborative data showing people, especially children, with very high levels of benzene in their blood,” says Foster. “I think this goes to support the case that we need to pause the permits. We don’t know what level of harm is being done, especially when it comes to cumulative impacts.”

The COGCC said the study’s findings will impact the SB 181 rulemaking process, and the agency will continue to work with CDPHE to review health impacts from oil and gas development.

“This study just reinforces what we already knew: We need to minimize emissions from oil and gas sources,” Putnam said.

Click here for original article

Front Range Residents Fight Fracking

Fires, explosions and toxic releases: Front Range residents fight fracking boom. How oil and gas production is devastating Colorado communities and endangering the climate.

For Barb Binder, the bad news arrived with a knock on the door. That’s when she learned from a local activist that a patch of open public space across from her “forever home” in Broomfield County, the Denver suburb where she and her husband planned to retire, was about to become an industrial site.

Initially, she was comforted by the thought that state officials would not possibly allow residential hydraulic fracturing – or fracking, as it is known – to begin if it was not safe.

But two years on Binder feels naive for being so trusting. She believes her asthma has become worse since the construction near her home began, and blames the drilling mud that has been used on the site. And then there is the constant worry. 

“I had to educate myself about exactly what’s involved in industrial-scale fracking,” she says. “It meant looking at the dangers – the fires, the explosions, the toxic releases, and recognising: ‘Oh my God, I am going to be living right next to this.’”

Binder now spends most of her free time opposing the plans of Extraction Oil and Gas, the Denver-based company that has plans to construct 84 wells around her neighborhood, 16 of them “literally” – she says – in her backyard.

She is not alone. Since the advent of the fracking boom in oil-rich Colorado – where there has been a fivefold increase in oil and gas production since 2008 – new wells and production sites have sprung up around residential neighbourhoods in the Front Range faster than environmental researchers can track them.

There are 40,000 active and inactive wells across the Denver basin, and new permits issued every month for more. They are built close to schools, playgrounds, and clusters of family homes.

The boom has coincided with anecdotal tales of ill-effects – from children’s nosebleeds to asthma – and a health study that shows more children being born with congenital heart defects in areas of Colorado with high-intensity oil and gas activity compared with areas where there is low or no activity.

Extraction Oil and Gas told the Guardian it had used new technologies to “minimise the impact of oil and gas development” in the Front Range, compared with the way oil was extracted in previous decades.

A spokesperson said the company had learned some lessons from an incident on its Livingston site, after it voluntarily switched a drilling fluid it had been using because residents complained about the odour. It said air monitoring results had found “no health impact” from the smell.

“To date, all published air-quality monitoring results have been stellar, and conclusively show that any effects of our development on the air we breathe are negligible,” the company said. 

“We understand that there will always be those who oppose all oil and gas development whatsoever, or want to ‘leave it in the ground’, but we will continue our endeavours to minimise impacts of developing the energy we all use each day – and we will never stop innovating for the betterment of Colorado and our state’s economy.”

Yet the conflicts – between industry and residents, and sometimes neighbour versus neighbour – have felt, in the words of the local reporter Chase Woodruff, like a “civil war” at times.

And there have been accidents. In 2017, two men were killed, and a woman and child injured, after a house in Firestone, Colorado, exploded because of a leak of “fugitive gas” from an uncapped pipeline that was connected to a gas well near the home.

Erin Martinez, who lost her husband and brother in the blast, has moved house again after a new well began construction across from her home.

Environmental researchers from the not-for-profit Earthworks group travel from site to site in what sometimes seems like a game of whack-a-mole, using a special gas-finding imaging camera to track, document, and report what they describe as plumes of pollution that are being emitted from the sites, in what they claim is evidence of dangerous releases of methane and other volatile organic compounds that are not visible to the naked eye. 

Oil companies have claimed that the plumes are not evidence of toxic emissions. The industry has claimed the plumes are a “heat signature” caused by high temperature drilling mud.

Dozens of complaints have been filed to state authorities, but regulators have deemed that most of those emissions are in the allowable range.

One proposal that would have forced oil and gas wells to be located at least 2,500ft (760 metres) – or half a mile – from homes and other buildings was voted down on a ballot initiative last year by a vote of 58% to 42%, in a significant blow to anti-fracking activists. 

Oil and gas advocates argue the “setback” proposal would have decimated their operations in Colorado, in effect barring new drilling from the Denver suburbs where nine in 10 new wells are being constructed.

Colorado Rising, one of the leading activist groups in the state, reportedly raised about $1.2m (£1m) to support the initiative, but were outspent when – activists say – industry sources pumped $41m into the race.

Opponents of fracking have, however, won one big victory since then. Last April, Colorado’s new Democratic governor, Jared Polis, signed a new mandate into law that forced one of the state’s most powerful institutions, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), to completely upend its mission.

Instead of fostering the oil and gas industry, Senate bill 181 (SB181) has forced the COGCC to regulate it, with a specific priority on public health and safety and focus on the environment.

The new law has raised questions: about whether a state with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry can ever really change, and whether fears about the climate crisis, and the ill-effects of fracking, will ever make a difference.

For years, the oil sector has argued that Colorado needs the multibillion-dollar industry and the hundreds of thousands of job it sustains.

Sara Loflin, the executive director of the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans, a campaigning group that helped get SB181 passed, says the legislation was a product of decades of Coloradans living with oil and gas in their communities, and seeing the effect of its pollution: the industrial waste, the bad air, the noise, and the constant low thumping vibrations that have made residents physically ill.

For years, Loflin told the Guardian, locals who were concerned about debris from abandoned sites, or the way soil at a local playground had changed colour, would have to make more than a dozen calls to get answers from public officials, and still be treated with hostility.

Now her organisation is seeking to remind local governments, who have also been given more power under SB181, that they have “the jurisdiction, the right, and the responsibility” to say no to new permits if health and safety is jeopardised.

But despite its legal firepower, there is no sign of rapid change within the Colorado market. At a recent meeting of the COGCC in Thornton, on an unseasonably hot autumn day, residents’ frustrations were aimed at Jeff Robbins, the director of the COGCC, who was appointed by Polis.Advertisement

Since May, Robbins and the COGCC have approved 650 drilling permits and 82 location sites. Some permit applications have been delayed, but not a single one has been denied, despite the COGCC’s new mandate.

Pressed by the Guardian about whether he saw it as his job to say no to industry, Robbins said he believed it was his mission to take “a close look” at permit applications that were located close to homes.

“And that’s exactly what I’m doing,” he said. “What 181 says is that we don’t want to see all of the pending permits get a free pass. And we don’t want to see all pending permits be under a moratorium. It says we want you – director – using objective criteria to permit those that can be permitted, and potentially delay others that can’t be permitted, because they are not protected.”

When he was asked whether the climate crisis would affect the COGCC’s permit allocations under the new law, Robbins said climate could potentially be considered since SB181 required the commission to evaluate the cumulative effects of oil and gas operations on the environment.

But Robbins said he would look for “stakeholder input” for guidance. He meets once a month with environmental activists and residents, and twice a month with industry.Advertisement

For residents like Connie Beach, who returned home from a vacation in November 2017 to a letter that said she would soon be living next to a 30-well mega-pad for drilling, and was told there was “nothing to do about it”, the promise of SB181 is losing its lustre.

On a local Facebook group, people in her neighbourhood post about favoured local candidates who will fight industry. Most end up being challenged by opponents with deep pockets and ties to oil and gas.

Joe Salazar, a former Democratic state legislator and civil rights lawyer who recently became the head of Colorado Rising, is keeping his eye on a proposed fracking site called Acme, which has been described by environmental experts as one of the most problematic in the state of Colorado. Permits have not yet been approved, but if they are, the site will contain 36 wells within 500ft (150 metres) of homes, and 100ft from a small airport runway.

The COGCC recently reopened a public comment period, inviting residents to air their views before the commission makes a decision.

“This is going to be one hell of a test case,” Salazar said. “The community is fighting like hell to get the COGCC to deny that. It really is left to the whims and wishes of the director … that’s why there is so much pressure on him.”

Click here to read the original article

Colorado Rising Files Complaint to Halt O&G Permitting

***PRESS RELEASE***

Colorado Rising – Wednesday October 9, 2019

Colorado Rising Files Complaint to Halt Oil & Gas Permitting in Colorado

COGCC violating due process in permitting of new wells

DENVER, COLORADO — Today, Colorado Rising, on behalf of Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee, filed a complaint requesting judicial review in Denver District Court concerning the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s process of approving new oil and gas permits.

On July 3rd, 2019, Extraction Oil and Gas filed for a permit for a wellbore spacing unit in Broomfield, well after SB-181 was signed into law. SB-181 is the oil and gas reform bill, passed by the state legislature this spring, that requires the prioritization of health and safety, evaluation of cumulative impacts, increased financial assurances for new drilling, among other things.

When mineral owners (Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee) in the area of the spacing unit brought the considerations of the new law to the COGCC’s hearing officer, the officer first expressed concern for not knowing how to proceed with permitting of the spacing unit because no rules where in place to fulfill the new requirements and address the concerns raised (paragraphs 15-17 in the complaint).

Later, Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee requested a stay on the hearing and for discovery to be granted in regards to health and safety, the financial health of Extraction Oil and Gas, and other considerations included in SB-181. Those motions were denied by the hearing officer and Wildgrass was told that the old rules would apply to the permit application. That decision triggered the complaint and request for relief.

Colorado Rising and Wildgrass have requested a stay on all permitting until the full rulemaking has taken place.

Anne Lee Foster, Communications Director for Colorado Rising said, “This case is an example of a systemic problem at the agency. Governor Polis has created a quagmire by flipping oil and gas permitting on its head all while declaring that fracking approvals must continue. Unfortunately, everyday people are the ones caught in the political crossfire and are suffering in their homes due to industrial fracking nearby. Pausing the permits is the responsible thing to do.”

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Colorado Rising is powering the grassroots movement to protect public health & safety from dangerous oil & gas operations.

To learn more, please go to www.corising.org

Please Report If You Are Impacted

My heart goes out to everyone negatively impacted by fracking. No one should have to live like this. None of us moved to Broomfield to put up with this. I’ve been fighting against this industry since 2012, which is what led me to running for office. If you experience headaches, nosebleeds, coughing, tightness of breath. If you have recently been diagnosed with asthma, need nebulizer treatments, or have begun to have heart issues. If you experience odors, noise, light from the rigs, or even your house shaking, please take the time to report it. Here are the complaint links for O&G Health and Safety related issues for both the local and state.

Broomfield:
https://www.broomfield.org/2842/File-an-Immediate-Concern

State:
https://cogcc.state.co.us/complaints.html#/complaints

Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking

The Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (the Compendium) is a fully referenced compilation of evidence outlining the risks and harms of fracking. It is a public, open-access document that is housed on the websites of Concerned Health Professionals of New York (www.concernedhealthny.org) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (www.psr.org). 

Click here to read or download the 6th Compendium

The five earlier editions of the Compendium have been used and referenced all over the world. The Compendium has been twice translated into Spanish: independently in 2014 by a Madrid-based environmental coalition, followed by an official translation of the third edition, which was funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and launched in Mexico City in May 2016. The Compendium has been used in the European Union, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, and Argentina. 

About Concerned Health Professionals of New York 

Concerned Health Professionals of New York (CHPNY) is an initiative by health professionals, scientists, and medical organizations for raising science-based concerns about the impacts of fracking on public health and safety. CHPNY provides educational resources and works to ensure that careful consideration of science and health impacts are at the forefront of the fracking debate. 

About this Report 

The Compendium is organized to be accessible to public officials, researchers, journalists, and the public at large. The reader who wants to delve deeper can consult the reviews, studies, and articles referenced herein. In addition, the Compendium is complemented by a fully searchable, near-exhaustive citation database of peer-reviewed journal articles pertaining to shale gas and oil extraction, the Repository for Oil and Gas Energy Research, that was developed by PSE Healthy Energy and which is housed on its website (https://www.psehealthyenergy.org/our-work/shale-gas-research-library/). 

For this sixth edition of the Compendium, as before, we collected and compiled findings from three sources: articles from peer-reviewed medical or scientific journals; investigative reports by journalists; and reports from, or commissioned by, government agencies. Peer-reviewed articles were identified through databases such as PubMed and Web of Science, and from within the PSE Healthy Energy database. We included review articles when such reviews revealed new understanding of the evidence. 

Written in non-technical language, our entries briefly and plainly describe studies that document harm, or risk of harm, associated with fracking and summarize the principal findings. Entries do not include detailed results or a critique of the strengths and weaknesses of each study. Because much of medicine’s early understanding of new diseases and previously unsuspected epidemiological correlations comes through assessment of case reports, we have included published case reports and anecdotal reports when they are data-based and verifiable. 

The studies and investigations referenced in the dated entries catalogued in the Compilation of Studies & Findings are current through April 1, 2019. 

Methane Leak in Anthem

A special meeting was held on Monday September 30th at the City Council Chambers to discuss a methane leak the City and County of Broomfield discovered during routine soil and gas testing in Anthem Highlands. Those present included the City and County of Broomfield staff, representatives from COGCC, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, and North Metro Fire Department. The source of the leak has still not been identified, and no wells will be shut down in the interim. 

This was the first time we’ve gotten to see Broomfield’s new City Manager, Jennifer Hoffman, display her leadership style. Personally, as a long time advocate for Health & Safety, Broomfield may have finally gotten the City Manager we need. 

Here is the City video from the Meeting. The meeting begins at 5 minutes into the video. Because it is a two hour video, please give it a moment to buffer on your device.

Stop Fracking Our Future

Sunday afternoon, I got to participate in an amazing Peaceful Protest at the corner of Lowell Blvd. and Sheridan Parkway. I was joined by many familiar faces I’ve known for the last seven years. And many new faces of the next generation and those who are now aware of the dangers of fracking. Thank you again for everyone who spoke, everyone who planted, everyone who had the courage to come and be present. Thank you to the Elders who opened and closed the Ceremony. Thank you to Christiaan Van Woudenberg for speaking and for your continued support. And a special thank you to the Police who did not intervene and let us exercise our First Amendment Rights. 

Standing Strong Since 2013

I originally got started with Our Broomfield in 2013 when they needed pictures and help with their website. My wife AnnMarie had already been involved with Our Broomfield, and she was expressing frustration over how much money people wanted to charge for photography and web design. At the time, Our Broomfield was just a handful of concerned parents and citizens, without a budget, trying to educate all of Broomfield as to what fracking was, and trying to prevent it from entering Broomfield. I volunteered to take photographs and donate them. I asked for locations of wells, and then went out for the day to take pictures. I came back with pictures, a headache, and a spotting nosebleed. I was furious. I asked how I could help. And that’s the beginning of what brought me here. 

First Fracking Pictures 2013

Broomfield Days 2013

Protesting in 2014

Judge Re-Opens Voter Approved Longmont Fracking Ban

BOULDER, Colo. – A Boulder County judge on Friday granted a motion to re-open a case over the fracking ban in Longmont, leading to the possibility that an injunction on the ban could be lifted and setting up perhaps a precedent-setting court fight.

The activist groups Colorado Rising and Our Longmont filed the motionearlier this month, asking District Court Judge Nancy Woodruff Salomone to lift the injunction stopping Longmont from enforcing the ban after the passage of SB19-181 this spring, which gave local municipalities more control over oil and gas development.

Salomone ordered the case to be re-opened but did not weigh in on the activists’ requests to lift the injunction, according to court records. The Longmont fracking ban was approved by voters in 2012 but overturned in 2014 and 2016 court decisions.

“We are excited that the District Court ordered this case be reopened,” Colorado Rising attorney Joe Salazar said in a statement Friday evening. “This is an important first step in the long fight to protect Longmont residents and the environment from the harm associated with fracking activities. We stand with Longmont residents to reinstate their voter-approved fracking ban.”

The oil and gas industry and state regulators pushed back against the activists’ motion, saying SB19-181 never intended to outright ban oil and gas development.

Longmont voters approved the ban in 2012 with about 60% of voters supporting the measure.

Salazar, who is a former state lawmaker, said earlier this month that SB19-181 should allow for the reopening of the case and reinstatement of the fracking ban because it allows local governments to have control over oil and gas development within their jurisdictions. He says the law does not explicitly say that cities or counties could not outright ban fracking in order to protect people’s health, welfare and the environment.

Longmont voters approved the ban in 2012 with about 60% of voters supporting the measure. Our Longmont, a group of residents opposed to fracking, was the main driver behind the ballot measure that outlawed fracking within city limits.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Top Operating Company and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) sued to block the ban from going into effect, and the Boulder District Court agreed in 2014, saying that the ban was not in accordance with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act or the COGCC’s rules.

The court wrote at the time that it should be up to the legislature or another court to make the decision.

Click here for the Motion to Re-Open the Case
Click here for the original article
Click here for the Press Conference at the Capitol

Colorado Rising & Longmont File to Lift Court Injunction on Oil & Gas Ban

***PRESS RELEASE***
Longmont Residents Move to Lift Court Injunction on Oil & Gas Ban

Local control granted by SB 19-181 allows the 2012 voter-enacted law to stand

Join Colorado Rising and Longmont residents for a press conference on the matter today at 1 pm at the Colorado State Capitol in Room 0107.

LONGMONT, COLORADO — ​Today, Colorado Rising, on behalf of Our Longmont, filed a motion to reopen the ​City of Longmont v. Colo. Oil and Gas Ass’n case in Boulder District Court. This is a first step to lift an injunction by the Colorado Supreme Court prohibiting the implementation of Article XVI of Longmont’s Charter which bans fracking within the City of Longmont.

In 2012, Longmont voters overwhelmingly approved the charter amendment (​Article XVI) to ban fracking within the city. At the time of the passage of Article XVI, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act (the “Act”) was much different than today.

The oil & gas industry wasted no time in bringing a lawsuit against the City of Longmont to challenge the will of voters. In May of 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court prevented the City of Longmont from enforcing its charter amendment. The Supreme Court held that the Amendment was in “operational conflict” with and preempted by state law. Thus, the Court prevented Longmont from enforcing Article XVI. Amendment XVI remains in Longmont’s charter.

This past spring, the Colorado General Assembly passed SB 19-181, which is considered a sea change in regulating oil and gas operations in the state. ​This sea change reinforced local government land use authority, provided local governments greater control over oil and gas operations, and eliminated preemption of state interest from the Act, among other things, making ​Longmont’s charter is no longer in operational conflict.

In light of the new law, Our Longmont will ask the Boulder County District Court to lift the injunction and allow the City of Longmont to enforce its voter-approved Charter amendment.

Michael Bellmont, Resident of Longmont and defendant said of the motion, “In truly bipartisan numbers, voters overwhelmingly approved a ban in 2012 that the Supreme Court later said was trumped by state law. The law has changed and now the charter amendment needs to be enforced to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents. We deserve public health and safety…we voted for it…and we deserve our voices to be heard and honored.”

Attorney Joe Salazar, Executive Director of Colorado Rising said, “SB 19-181 in no way stops local governments from enacting a ban on fracking. Considering the climate crisis and Longmont’s already failing air quality largely due to oil and gas extraction in Weld County, a ban is reasonable and necessary to protect the health and safety of Longmont residents. SB 19-181 granted local control to Colorado communities and Longmont has the right to exercise its self governance through implementation of their charter amendment.”

Dr. Detlev Helmig, Fellow and Associate Research Professor at the Institute of Alpine and Arctic Research (INSTAAR) at CU-Boulder said of the already failing air quality in Longmont, ​”Our measurements have shown concentrations of oil and gas-related pollutants in East Longmont were at a minimum on average 2-3 times higher than in most other large US cities. Longmont’s oil and gas-related pollution exceeded the levels seen in all of the 28 major urban comparison areas. Based on the known wind patterns, these pollutants are presumably coming into Longmont from the active oil and gas drilling and fracking in Weld County.”

Please contact Anne Lee Foster, Communications Director for Colorado Rising, to interview defendants in the suit.

Click here for original Press Release
Click here for Motion to Re-Open Case

The Research Is In: Stop Fracking ASAP

“Our examination of the peer-reviewed medical, public health, biological, earth sciences, and engineering literature uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health.”

Over 1,500 reports show there’s simply no safe way to do it — and it’s harming us all every day it goes on.

Science. Evidence. Facts. Do these even matter anymore in U.S. policy? They should — especially when it comes to issues that affect our health and environment, like fracking. 

Concerned Health Professionals of New York and my organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility, recently released a remarkable compendium of research on the subject. It summarizes and links to over 1,500 articles and reports and has become the go-to source for activists, health professionals, and others seeking to understand fracking. 

The new studies we looked at expose serious threats to health, justice, and the climate.

2018 study in the Journal of Health Economics, for instance, found that the babies of Pennsylvania mothers living within 1.5 miles of gas wells had increased incidence of low birth weight. Babies with low birth weight (under 5.5 pounds) are over 20 times more likely to die in infancy than babies with healthy birth weight.

Babies exposed in utero to fracking are likely to face additional challenges throughout their lives. They may suffer long-term neurologic disability, impaired language development and academic success, and increased risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

Other researchers are finding that fracking wells and associated infrastructure are disproportionately sited in non-white, indigenous, or low-income communities. 

study published this year in Ecological Economics analyzed the socio-demographics of people living near drilling and fracking operations in four high-fracking states: Colorado, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas. It found strong evidence that minorities, especially African Americans, disproportionately live near fracking wells. 

They don’t just face disproportionate exposure to toxic emissions, leaks, and spills. They also have fewer resources — like health insurance, medical services, or income security — that would help them protect their health.

But you don’t have to live near wells and pipelines to be at risk. We all face harm from fracking’s impact on the climate. 

So-called “natural gas” is 85-95 percent methane, a short-lived but highly potent greenhouse gas. Over its first 20 years in the atmosphere, methane traps about 86 times more heat than carbon dioxide. That 20-year timeframe matters: Scientists tell us that’s about the time we have to slash our greenhouse gas emissions and begin pulling carbon out of the atmosphere.  

Unfortunately, as the research we collected finds, methane leakage rates from drilling and fracking operations have “greatly exceed” earlier estimates. A 2018 analysis of methane leaks across the U.S. found leakage rates to be 60 percent higher than reported by the EPA. A 2019 study in southwestern Pennsylvania found some gas emissions to have been underreported by a factor of five. 

Overall, how bad is fracking? The Compendium states that “public health risks from unconventional gas and oil extraction are real, the range of adverse environmental impacts wide, and the negative economic consequences considerable.” 

It concludes: “Our examination of the peer-reviewed medical, public health, biological, earth sciences, and engineering literature uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health.”

The logical conclusion is that, for health, justice, and a livable world, the time to stop using fracked gas is now.

Click Here for the original article

Broomfield Passes Six-Month Oil & Gas Moratorium

Processing, approval of applications on hold until Dec. 4

Broomfield officials have enacted a six-month oil and gas moratorium aimed at giving the city time to update local ordinances to be more in line with the newly-passed state law that gives municipalities more control over such matters.

The moratorium, approved at the May 28 city council meeting, will halt until Dec. 4 the processing or approval of applications for use by special review or operator agreements to allow oil and gas operations in Broomfield.

Several residents came to speak in favor of the moratorium and Chris McGowne, who identified himself as the associate director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, came to speak against.

Residents in favor of the moratorium said they think it will give Broomfield time to dissect what can be done and revisit Issue 301 – a voter initiative that passed by a 57 % vote in 2017.

Essentially, the measure requires any vote about oil and gas development in Broomfield to consider the negative effects that the decision could have on residents. It requires the consideration of health and safety of Broomfield citizens to be the primary metric by which oil and gas decisions are made.

Some pointed out that rulemaking “hasn’t even begun” at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and that Broomfield needs time to work on their own regulations.

McGowne brought up the same concerns he shared at a May 14 meeting when this moratorium came up for a first reading. He said companies that are members of the council always have benefited from a positive, collaborative and engaging relationship with Broomfield and that members always have taken a “pragmatic and proactive” approach to working with Broomfield and hope to continue to do so in the future.

McGowne said he understands the city wants to codify the new regulations, but that this moratorium is not needed to take such an action. Instead, he sees the action as a way to delay oil and gas development for as “long a time frame as possible.”

Ward 1 Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans directed one response to McGowne, saying Broomfield has no intention of banning or keeping industry work constantly halted by a moratorium. The goal is to update regulations per the new state law, she said, adding an apology if she gave him a different impression.

If Broomfield didn’t have any permits pending, Ward 2 Councilman Mike Shelton said he wouldn’t know how to feel about a moratorium.

“I want to believe that the oil and gas companies want to produce this product and respect everybody that’s around them,” he said. “I just haven’t seen it that way. I haven’t seen it be positive, I haven’t seen it be collaborative, and I haven’t seen them be proactive about it. We defiantly need a six-month moratorium if we’re going to have Crestone (Peak Resources) operate under new regulations and not the ones we had so long ago.”

Members of council brought up the idea of a moratorium at previous meetings as a way to give city officials time to react to the passage of Senate Bill 181, which changes the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and authorizes local governments to exercise additional regulatory authority over oil and gas operations without being preempted by state law. Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law on April 16.

Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., in October 2017 signed an operator agreement with Broomfield to drill up to 84 new wells on six sites, which is not impacted by the new state law. Crews [split verb comment=”are “]currently are drilling on the Interchange B Pad south of the Northwest Parkway and between Interstate 25 and Huron Street.

Broomfield amended its oil and gas land use regulations in July and again in March, when the city increased setbacks of residential and “sensitive use developments” to oil and gas well sites.

The new law grants local governments more authority to regulate surface operations and nuisance impacts of oil and gas operations.

At an April 9 meeting, council members asked staff to review and begin drafting amendments to the Broomfield oil and gas ordinance to implement the broader authority granted by the law.

In late March, Adams County commissioners passed a moratorium, which can extend up to six months, for new applications for oil and gas drilling permits. Last month, Lafayette extended a moratorium that the council initially approved in November 2017.

The American Petroleum Institute issued a news release Tuesday evening, claiming Broomfield is the seventh Colorado community to enact a moratorium since SB 181 passed.

“We are disappointed that Broomfield City Council has chosen to impose a moratorium on new energy development. Its decision is misguided and harmful to our state,” Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Lynn Granger said about Broomfield’s vote. “Our industry prioritizes public health and safety and continues to take proactive measures to ensure that energy development is done safely and responsibly in collaboration with the priorities of Colorado communities. Nothing about Senate Bill 181 has changed our industry’s leadership role in environmental stewardship.”

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