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State lawmaker calls incident at Erie's Aspen Ridge school 'unacceptable'

Rep. Mike Foote says it highlights need for change
Posted at 5:37 PM, Nov 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-15 20:54:16-05

ERIE, Colo. -- Rep. Mike Foote says it's time to change where companies can drill after a video from state regulators showed potentially toxic fumes drifting over a school playground.

Denver7 first reported on the video, and safety violation from state regulators last week.

"It's absurd that a facility's that close to a school, it's just crazy," said Rep. Mike Foote, D-East Boulder County.

It happened at Erie's Aspen Ridge Prep School in September, but parents weren't notified about it until months later.

"At a minimum, you should notify people that are affected by it and sounds like that didn't really happen here. That's ridiculous," said Foote.

Rep. Foote sponsored HB 17-1256 last legislative session that would have kept new oil and gas wells further away from schools. The bill would have pushed the setback to a thousand feet from the property line instead of from the school building.

"It was such a modest change, and yet the industry still opposed it," said Foote. "They just want to drill wherever they possibly can, and they want there to be less restrictive rules to where they can drill."

While the bill would not have impacted the site at Aspen Ridge, since those wells were there before the school went in, Foote said the video and incident highlights why new or existing wells shouldn't be that close to schools.

"Do you think lawmakers have a responsibility to do something," asked Denver7 reporter Jennifer Kovaleski.

"We have a responsibility to listen to what the people in this state are saying and what they're saying is its way too close to schools, way too close to homes. It shouldn't be in residential neighborhoods, period," said Foote.

Foote said he plans to revisit the bill in the next session, but because the balance of power remains the same, and Republicans still control the Senate, he believes the bill will likely die again.

Parents and activist are planning another protest at Aspen Ridge Thursday night at 6 p.m.

School administrators said they are confident the issue has been resolved, but they may bring in independent oil and gas monitoring moving forward.

Erie's Board of Trustee also announced on Tuesday plans to launch its own investigation into why they weren't told about the violation by Crestone Peak Resources, the company that owns the well, until more than a month after the company was ordered to cease operations at the site.