Colorado lawmaker drafts bill to keep fracking sites away from schools

Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-18 19:42:38-04

WELD COUNTY, Colo. -- The fracking controversy is alive and well in Weld County.

A new bill is set to be heard by lawmakers at the state capitol on Thursday, which would force oil companies to build sites further away from schools.

Rep. Mike Foote of Colorado's 12th District is the one sponsoring the bill. He told Denver7 his new bill will tweak the rules currently set in place. Right now, it is perfectly legal for oil companies to build fracking sites near schools just as long as they are 1,000 feet from the door.

Foote took community members on a tour in Greeley on Saturday where there's a working fracking site located just to the southeast of Northridge High School. The site sits well beyond the school's doors but roughly 100 feet from the football field.

"It's not safe to have a large dangerous industrial operation this close to an athletic facility or modular classroom or a playground," said Foote.

Representative Dave Young, D-CO, is eager to see if Foote's new bill will go over well with other lawmakers. 

"We value the economic benefit and the jobs that we get from oil and gas production and exploration," said Young. "I don't want to send a mixed message that we are against it, but I'm very concerned when we have these kinds of activities so close to our schools."

Foote expects a response from the oil and gas companies. Proponents have argued that fracking has been a safe practice for years. Foote disagrees.

"Mistakes happen," said Foote. "There have been fires at sites just like this one."

Foote is also concerned about sites moving closer and closer to homes.

"They're going closer to neighborhoods. They're going into the middle of neighborhoods now," he said.

Another ongoing concern is fracking activity possibly contaminating ground water.

An EPA report in 2015 found no evidence that fracking led to a widespread impact on drinking water resources in the United States. In 2016 the EPA changed course and reported fracking can have an impact on drinking water under "certain circumstances" but that "data gaps and uncertainties limited EPA's ability to fully assess the potential impacts on drinking water resources locally and nationally."


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