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Energy Company Backs Off Plan To Drill Near School In Greeley

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Greeley elementary school parents organized to oppose a plan to drill within 1,000 feet of their school. (Getty Images)

Greeley elementary school parents organized to oppose a plan to drill within 1,000 feet of their school. (Getty Images)

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – Parents of a Greeley elementary school students have succeeded in blocking an energy company’s plan to drill for oil and natural gas near their school.

But their victory may not last long, reports the Greeley Tribune.

It all began when Mineral Resources applied for permission to construct 19 wells, 19 separators and 24 tanks about 500 feet from the Frontier Academy Elementary School.

The parents organized after learning of the plan and vigorously opposed the company’s application before the Greeley Planning Commission. They cited concerns about safety and pollution, noting there have recently been three explosions or fires at drilling operations in the state.

The company withdrew its application to drill in the area.

“We hope such a proposal doesn’t see the light of day again,” said Sara Barwinski, a spokeswoman for Weld Air and Water, the grassroots organization formed to oppose the plan. “We hope there will be more public scrutiny the next time.”

But a company spokesman says it will try again.

“Mineral Resources will explore the concept of altering the configuration of the proposed use in order to increase the distance to the southerly property line of Frontier Academy to a minimum of 1,000 feet,” Tyler Richardson told the Tribune.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission last year required operators to seek permission if they want to drill within 1,000 feet of a school. Mineral Resources had received initial approval for the site before the rules took effect last August.

Parent Trisha Golding says they will keep fighting the proposal.

“Parents plan to continue our firm stand against this location behind our school and against the large intense industrial size proposal behind our playground. We demand the data gaps in health, safety, accidental explosion impact and location analysis be met before any drilling is in such close proximity to the school.”

Parents were angry that they were not initially notified of the company’s plans. Greeley city officials promise there will be ample notice when the Mineral Resources new application is considered.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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