Fracking debate gets federal attention in Erie
ERIE, Colo. — The controversial natural gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing in Colorado is getting some attention at the federal level.
Congressman Jared Polis visited with some Erie residents about their concerns over the safety of fracking.
Last week, Erie enacted an immediate six-month moratorium on new gas drill permits.
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study said the propane levels in the air in Erie are worse than in Los Angeles and Houston.
It’s the air and a host of other issues that brought out Congressman Jared Polis to talk to residents.
“This oil and gas has been under the ground for millions of years. They need to take a time out and show me scientific proof this is safe,” says Boulder County resident Rod Brueske.
He and his family moved to the country from Denver a year ago, for the fresh air, a slower pace and better quality of life for his kids.
It’s bad. You breathe like fumes and stuff,” says his 5-year-old son.
But Brueske fears fracking will ruin all of it.
Fracking pumps water and chemicals underground at high pressure to crack rock and release oil and natural gas.
“It’s a threat to my family’s dream. Ooh,” he says as he staves off tears. “It’s a threat to our health and safety. And you can’t put a price on somebody’s dream. You can’t put a price tag on health,” he says.
It’s those fracking fears bringing Polis to visit Brueske and others whose homes are about 100 feet from a completed mining site.
Thick, blackish smoke poured out of it last summer.
It’s clearer now. But some say it is still potentially dangerous.
“Those hydrocarbon vapors are poisonous fumes, that as you can tell, the wind is blowing toward us and blowing toward homes only 100 feet away,” says Shane Davis of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Sierra Club.
Mothers are worried.
“So they breathe this here at home. Then they go to school. There’s no escape for these kids; there’s no escape,” says April Beach, a mother of three boys. She says one of them developed asthma after the well was finished.
Polis is sympathetic to families who say they didn’t move here for city-like problems.
“You shouldn’t have to have fracking in your backyard. Colorado is wide open. The country is wide open. There are huge tracks of land where it’s not 300 feet from a daycare center or backyard,” says Polis.
The Democratic Congressman from Boulder has introduced two fracking bills–both would require oil and gas companies to abide by the federal Clean Air and Safe Water Act.
And he’s still drafting another requiring fracking be a certain distance from daycares and schools.
The oil and gas industry insists fracking is safe. It claims it follows numerous state and federal regulations.