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Fracking Issue Is Personal For Rep. Jared Polis

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Rep. Jared Polis talks with CBS4's Jennifer Brice about fracking (credit: CBS)

Rep. Jared Polis talks with CBS4’s Jennifer Brice about fracking (credit: CBS)

BERTHOUD, Colo. (CBS4) – Rep. Jared Polis says he won’t stop trying to get oil and gas drilling out of his neighborhood. The congressman has been active in the fracking debate in Colorado for years and has even sponsored several bills to regulate it.

Polis has vowed to keep fighting after a judge said he wouldn’t stop drilling near land he owns. He says this is a different kind of battle for him.

Polis says the Sundance Energy operation is personal because it’s feet from the edge of his property, a second home that he owns. He said he got no warning it was going up and doesn’t know how long it will stay. Sundance says they’re not violating anything.

“This thing is personal now because it’s displaced my family just like it’s displaced so many other thousands of Colorado families,” Polis said.

Polis owns a farm home in Berthoud where his partner’s father and sister live. He says last weekend heavy equipment moved in across the county road onto his neighbor’s property.

“They’re drilling right there and you can’t sleep here,” Polis said.

On Monday the congressman filed a temporary restraining order to stop the drilling activity by Sundance Energy. On Friday morning a judge did not grant that order so Polis withdrew it, but he now plans study the effects of that operation.

“How many homeowners can even do this? It’s fully our responsibility to have to put up something to detect whether dust is coming,” Polis said. “We’re going to have to have some kind of air quality monitor, sound monitor. I’m going to have to rent this equipment.”

Fracking is the hydraulic fracturing of rock that contains gas and oils so they can be collected. The materials used are controversial and some believe it may contaminate water and air supplies.

Sundance Energy says they’re gratified the lawsuit was dropped by Polis because the claims are without merit. They also say a state inspection Thursday of the operation site did not find any violations related to the congressman’s allegations. Sundance is also voluntarily installing a noise barrier.

“Under current Colorado law, which is why we have to change Colorado law, this is probably permissible,” Polis said.

A spokesperson with Energy in Depth, which is an arm of the Independent Petroleum Association, said they believe the lawsuit is “a way for the congressman to grab headlines and generate publicity for his anti-industry political views.”

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