Officials Meet in Grand Junction to Talk Air Quality
An OZONE Alert was issued on Colorado’s Front Range this week!
Those with sensitive conditions, young children and the elderly should be aware and may want to limit outdoor activities. Learn more about the summer ozone program.
Colorado’s current drought and terrible wildfires are all acerbated by climate change and are not only tragic on a human level, but also on an environmental one, by adding to our already compromised ground level ozone pollution. But, did you know that in addition to emissions from power plants and automobiles, air emissions from oil and gas operations contribute greatly to ground level ozone pollution and to our Brown Cloud?
Learn more about the wildlfire relief efforts and how you can help at: www.ColoradoRedCross.org.
Join other concerned Moms across Colorado and take action right now, please sign our letter to the Governor, get educated and join us!
Colorado Moms Know Best supporters were also featured recently on Denver’s CBS 4 News.
Meet Liz X., Mother of 3, living in Weld County:
After 10 years of marriage and 3 boys, my husband and I were finally able to purchase our first home last summer in Mead, Colorado. It is everything we wanted – lots of room, a huge backyard, and a park down the street. We have great neighbors, and the boys love their schools and have made lots of friends. We back up to farmland and have an excellent view of the mountains.
But after only about 5 months of living here, I started noticing how many oil wells surround us, and how many more are being drilled almost constantly. My sister in Erie told me about the issues she was starting to find out about fracking there, and that she found out a well was fracked last summer just 350 feet from her 6 year old son’s school playground. Not too long after that, I noticed a posting in the farmer’s field behind my house stating it was a future well site. I found out from a neighbor that everyone in my HOA was being sent leases to sign giving Encana permission to drill under our homes. A meeting had been held with an Encana representative who was extremely unprofessional and almost threatening about signing the leases as quickly as possible. He told everyone if they sign the leases they would receive royalties and be released from any future liability. But if we refuse to sign, the State of Colorado has given them the ability to “force pool” all of the affected mineral rights owners as long as a certain percentage of signed leases are returned (based on land size) – whether we like it or not. Not only can (and probably, WILL) we be forced into this, but in that case we could not only possibly be held financially responsible to pay for any problems that could arise, but we have to pay to maintain the well, and to shut it down when it stops producing in the future. We would receive a reduced percentage of royalties.
We still hadn’t received our lease so I didn’t know about the initial meeting until a few weeks later. Apparently they are going to drill 8 wells in the field directly behind us – with the farmer’s permission – and will drill horizontally under all of our homes for miles, possibly into the main part of the town itself. The potential impact of this is huge. To start, they come out and do seismic testing of the area (which they’ve already begun), essentially shaking the earth with these special trucks to see where the best location is to drill – this testing has been proven to cause structural damage to homes, as well as set off small earthquakes. Then they start the drilling which is extremely loud and goes on 24 hours a day with bright lights set up. The chemicals they force into the ground and the shale beneath our homes with extreme force using water are toxic. The THOUSANDS of trucks needed to carry the water and chemicals to the site will run 24 hours a day – polluting the air, and ruining the roads. The fracking process has also been proven to set off earthquakes, cause structural damage, and weaken the ground under our homes. Home values plummet with wells so visibly close. And once the wells are fracked and operating, they will be venting gas and potentially hazardous chemicals indefinitely.
Out of fear for my family’s health I helped create a group with some of my neighbors to try to fight against these wells being drilled. While we have received a lot of support from others in Mead, there are also quite a few who are very upset with us for delaying this process. I live in Weld County – these wells are literally everywhere. Quite a few of my neighbors work for oil & gas companies, and I’ve lost friends over this. While out one day with my 4 year old handing out fliers about a town meeting to discuss these wells, a man chased me down in his car and screamed at me for daring to stand in the way of their livelihood. He was very large and threatening, and came back two more times to yell some more – and he watched when I went into my home. A couple of weeks later while in a meeting with the Mead Town Manager, he told us he has actually received somewhat constant threatening phone calls from a couple of residents against us – including a man who has said he owns “lots of guns, and isn’t afraid to use them”.
To make matters much, much worse – while this was going on Encana came in and set up a well site 350 FEET from my son’s elementary school. The 350 feet does not count the playground that’s in between the school building and wells. The middle school where my 13 year old attends is right next to the elementary school. We don’t even know how many wells they’re fracking at this site, but the temporary fence they’ve put up around it is so large it’s now known as the “Great Wall” around town. I’ve spoken with teachers and school administrators who tell us they are just as furious that this is going on, and that they are afraid for their health – but that they are not allowed to speak on record as school employees about it. I got a call one day from a my 10 year old’s teacher saying my son had such a horrible bloody nose in class they had to send him to the nurse because they couldn’t stop it. When I said something about that being one of the documented effects of fracking – she told me that since they’ve been fracking the wells by the school, most of the kids come back in from recess complaining of headaches and generally not feeling well, and that there are a number of bloody noses in class every day. Teachers and school administrators both had told us they would attend our meetings and sign our petitions – but none have yet followed through, and we’re afraid that the school district is blocking them from speaking out. (They have a history of this).
I have had chronic asthma since I was a kid. All three of my boys have asthma. One of my neighbors is on kidney dialysis; and another has a 5 year old with a congenital heart defect. In 8 short months this has gone from our dream home and place to raise our boys, to a living nightmare. We are regular people trying to live regular lives, and now we’re being forced to live right next to these wells 24/7. We don’t get to leave after our shift like the Encana workers do, we don’t wear personal protective gear in our backyards, and we don’t get a fair voice in what’s being done to us. Why on earth does it need to be done so close to homes and schools?? The lawyers we’ve spoken to tell us we don’t have a real hope of stopping the drilling – all we can fight for is better lease terms including larger distances from our homes, or better royalties. We can hope for a small moratorium. We are up against a multi-BILLION dollar industry with loopholes and politicians in their pockets. It is so very disheartening to realize how the health and future of your babies comes second to someone else’s profit. We will never win this fight – or even make a dent – unless we all start banding together and demanding the truth, and protection of our elected officials. If you can get in front of this where you live – do it, because once they pull the permits it’s too late.
~ Liz X.
Exciting news! CMKB submitted our formal request this week for a late June meeting with Governor Hickenlooper to hand-deliver our letter. The letter asks him to work with us to dramatically reduce lung-damaging ozone pollution and dangerous climate change emissions coming from oil and gas operations to protect our kids’ health and future.
Can’t wait to meet with him – and given we’re such a cool, smart group of moms, we imagine he feels exactly the same way!
Please join us if you haven’t already, sign on to the letter, share the information with your mom friends and if you want to get more involved, drop me a line.
~ Head Mom of Colorado Moms Know Best
Thurs., May 30, 2013
Contact: Jenny Davies-Schley, 720-296-9545
Moms Launch “Colorado Moms Know Best” to Protect Colorado Kids & Lifestyle
Will educate, engage and empower moms to advocate for clean air and outdoors
DENVER – A new grassroots network called Colorado Moms Know Best has formed to educate, engage and empower moms who love Colorado and the outdoor lifestyle it allows their families to live. Their first issue focuses on air pollution that is harming the health of Colorado children.
“Colorado Moms Know Best hopes to be an education resource and activity outlet for moms who care about the outdoors, land and water conservation, clean air and protecting child and community health,” said Jaime Travis, Colorado Moms Know Best coordinator. “We will make the case for the mom side of the story on clean air – and we can always tell policy-makers, ‘Because I said so!’”
After being shocked that most Front Range counties received D’s and F’s on the recent American Lung Association State of the Air report card on air pollution, the moms decided their first campaign would focus on advocating for clean air rules to protect Colorado children’s health.
Oil and gas development is growing in Colorado – since 2000, statewide drilling for oil and gas has more than doubled and drilling has nearly tripled in the Front Range. With that development we’re seeing an increase in smog-inducing air pollution around oil and gas sites –many close to our neighborhoods, schools and playgrounds – that emit noxious chemicals that worsen and even cause asthma, gastrointestinal problems and other illnesses. Already 1 out of 10 children have asthma in Colorado, an even higher rate than in adults because their lungs are still developing.
“Living among oil and gas operations in Erie, I know firsthand the fear you experience when you are left wondering how the toxic chemicals might be harming your kids,” said Andrea Roy, a member of Colorado Moms Know Best and Erie Rising. “We will ask the Air Quality Control Commission and the Governor to dramatically reduce lung-damaging ozone pollution and dangerous climate change emissions coming from oil and gas operations to protect the health of our growing families.”
The moms are calling for common sense yet innovative standards that require the oil and gas industry to:
- Detect and repair drilling leaks
- Stop natural gas venting
- Use capture technologies on storage tanks
- Disclose chemical emissions
While much of Colorado Moms Know Best’s activity will be online at their website and through social media, the group occasionally will bring moms together for special events. For more information, please visit http://coloradomomsknowbest.com.
Colorado Moms Know Best is a casual network of moms and friends that are looking out for our children’s health and wellbeing by protecting Colorado’s outdoors and quality of life.
Meet Andrea R., Mother of 2, living in Boulder County:
When I first moved to Erie I had no idea that I was moving to the middle of an oil field. I saw the condensate tanks and I really had no idea that they were related to oil and gas development. That is until I received an email from my neighbor about fracking site about 600 yards from my children’s’ school. I had not previously heard of hydraulic fracturing so I looked into it. What I found disturbed me; fresh water permanently taken from the Earths hydrologic cycle, laced with toxic, cancer causing chemicals; being injected into the ground. Not to mention the toxic wastewater that is produced and the pollution inducing emissions that leak from the tanks and pipes. I was appalled that this type of heavy industrial activity would be occurring a mere few hundred feet from people’s homes, schools and parks.
The Oil and Gas Industry are a major contributing factor to the diminished air quality along the Front Range. They are responsible for 30% of all methane emissions and in turn are responsible for the increase of lung damaging ozone along the Front Range. The industry needs to be held accountable for polluting our air and they need to institute some common sense measures to cut down on smog inducing pollution.
~ Andrea R.
Meet Wendy, Mother of 4, living in Boulder County:
I moved to Erie from Virginia almost three years ago. Our family of six was excited to move into a great community full of young families. Soon after moving to Erie, however, our entire family started feeling unhealthy. Mostly it was stomach problems with the children. I took the kids to the pediatrician quite a lot that first year and just chalked it up to new viruses that we had not been exposed to on the east coast. Eventually, my 4-year old daughter’s stomach pains were so bad that I was referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital. The physician ran multiple tests that resulted in no answers. We tried several elimination diets, however nothing seemed to improve.
I went to a friend’s Christmas party in the neighborhood and I noticed that all the women who lived on her block were talking about their children’s stomach problems; whether it was a severe food allergy or intolerance or other stomach problems. I asked the question to all the moms: “Why are all of these children suffering from similar symptoms?”. Everyone shrugged their shoulders except for one mom, who replied “the only thing I can think of is they drilled for oil and gas right across from our homes when all of us were either pregnant or had infants.”
The health problems continued. One of her sons began coming home from Red Hawk Elementary with stomach pain, prompting conversations with the school nurse.
“She said she was new to that school,” Leonard said. “She said that she had never worked at an elementary school where so many children come to the nurse’s office with (gastrointestinal) complaints.”
I knew that they were going to be drilling eight new wells next to our elementary school in the next few months, so I started to look into it. I couldn’t believe what I was reading as far as the potential risks to our air, water and health when it came to oil and gas development. I felt like our government had failed us when it came to regulating this industry. Not only that, I knew that once they drilled the eight new wells next to the school, I would have twenty-one producing wells within a half-mile of my front door. My husband and I decided we weren’t willing to take any risks with our own health, but especially the health of our children. We moved out of Erie before they drilled the new wells. Within a week of moving out of Erie, the children’s symptoms improved. We cannot say with one hundred percent certainty that our family’s illnesses were related to oil and gas, but we can say that there absolutely needs to be a health impact study done to critically evaluate how all aspects of oil and gas production our impacting our environment and our health.
Meet April B., Mother of 3, living in Boulder County:
I am a mom to three boys. I have lived surrounded by wells for 10 years and within a few hundred yards of what appear to have been open pits for 6. We were never informed of the pits, or of the chemicals in use, dangers of operations, and ongoing possible health implications of the surrounding operations. In our first home, we felt tremors and small earthquakes, in our current home we have many more issues.
We currently live near 5 wellheads, a BTEX burner, 2 separators and 2 Condensate tanks. Beyond this we are surrounded by 34 wells within a ½ mile radius. We have been told to evacuate our home by CDPHE from a possible H2S release. Only to have an investigation team on site days later, when obviously no issues would be found. We have called the fire department multiples times from toxic gasses seeping into our home. Only to have them not equipped with adequate detection monitors for the chemicals of concern. I don’t bother calling them anymore because they can’t help me.
At night, I can look out my son’s window and see the flames inside the closest BTEX burner. Loud sounds and burning noises are a common occurrence. Vapors rise from the numerous burners surrounding our home, day and night.
We have been sick. I have an unexplained lesion in my spinal cord. I had to deal with a spinal tap, regular MRIs and ongoing testing. After we found the lesion, I do not remember 6 months of my life. A precious time when my second baby was less than a year old. In addition, our family deals with many more health issues, not limited to the following: Headaches, Severe Migraines, Children with gushing bloody noses, Confusion, Memory loss, Hyper tension, Hair loss, Concentration problems, Severely unexplainable autoimmune disorders and allergies for multiple family members, Pains and weakness in our bodies, Serious GI issues (to the extent of a child needing a colonoscopy, and multiple family members needing endoscopies. All with no findings), Chronic painful reflux for everyone, Complete body itching night and day for months with no explanation and no treatment available, Periods of dizziness to the point of not being able to walk or climb stairs in both children and adults, My son also developed severe asthma shortly after the BTEX burner was put online next to our house, My husband redeveloped his childhood asthma at the same time and I developed new asthma symptoms, Chronic sinusitis for one child( which has led to antibiotic resistance and CT scans), Sickness, lethargy and abdominal pain that lasted for months after the most recent well was completed by our home, with clear CT scans, blood work and stool samplings.
Only narcotics could help until the pain went away. Just when we thought we had seen the worst. My son recently developed a rare neurological disorder. His body began to lose control with ticks and twitches. He has torn all the muscles in his neck and cut his hands from repeatedly gripping so hard. With his hands wrapped, writing at school has become a challenge. And playing guitar, his favorite way to self-calm is not always an option. It is unbearable to watch as a parent, let alone live with as a child.
He is the bravest person I know. He submitted a testimony to the EPA in 2011, about his concerns regarding the wells. About how he could no longer play in his tree-fort next to the nearby condensate tanks. In addition, a BTEX burner now stands where there used to be a huge beautiful Cottonwood tree and the owls are gone. Though this is right next to our home, I am warned to not walk too close without fire retardant clothing on. But every time I ask, I am told we are safe!
Recently, I requested the Town of Erie and EnCana place a VRU on the site by my home. This request was declined because:
1. It was too expensive
2. And because the time of highest production had supposedly ended and the VRU would not help
However, according the Production Logs on the COGCC website, for “Vessels Minerals”, production has certainly not subsided. In fact, in some instances it appears to have remained steady or increased.
Everything I know, I have been forced to learn on my own. The lack of information and transparency the Industry is entitled to is unacceptable.
~ April B.