Erie considers odor ordinance that could impact fracking

ERIE, Colo. -- Town council members in Erie are considering an ordinance that could make fracking more difficult.

Erie is one of many communities where people are concerned about fracking near their homes. The town, straddling Boulder and Weld counties, is not terribly far from recent and deadly energy industry explosions.

During a town council meeting on Tuesday, elected leaders were busy considering an emergency motion to update Erie's Public Health and Safety code.

The proposed change would allow police officers to cite anyone emitting "detectable odors" affecting neighbors and those passing by on public streets or sidewalks.

Five of the seven town council members publicly supported the ordinance. A final vote will come at a later meeting.

"If the wind hits just right, you can smell it," Erie resident Ryan Schroeder said.

Schroeder, who stays busy with his sons' baseball games and commonly spends time outside, said he can smell an occasional odor coming from an energy site not far from his neighborhood.

"You kind of get ... a rotten egg kind of smell," Schroeder said.

Signs advertising new subdivisions in Erie are not far from current energy sites.

As written, the ordinance change does not specifically target fracking operations, but many locals are hoping its impact will.

Erie's police chief declined to comment on whether enforcement would be challenging.

Critics said the current proposal, vague in its wording, will allow oil and natural gas companies easy opportunities to challenge any citation.

Regardless, those living near fracking locations believe more can be done to limit or eliminate nasty smells.

Some residents said they do not smell the odors at issue.