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Community Confronts Controversial Fracking Operation In Greeley

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GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – Residents on Monday got their chance to confront oil and gas executives about a controversial fracking operation involving four wells just a few hundred feet from Northridge High School in Greeley.

Several executives with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) told CBS4 the fracking tower located near the school is perfectly safe. They said Colorado has some of the strongest emission standards in the country. But a lot of residents aren’t buying it.

“Industrial oil and gas complexes don’t belong in neighborhoods,” Greeley resident Sara Barwinski said.

The new fracking tower has sprung up near several houses and 400 feet from the track at Northridge High School.

“That’s just not okay. I don’t accept the risk that close to my kid,” another Greeley resident said.

When Barwinski walks out of her back door she can see a family of owls and a well set to start drilling next week.

“If they can drill here in a conservation district, in a high density neighborhood, and that close to a school, they can drill anywhere,” Barwinski said.

She says her environmental, safety and health concerns are being swept under the table. COGCC Director Matt Lepore disagrees. On Monday he joined a panel to answer questions from residents during a packed community meeting.

“The governor is listening. We’re looking for reasonable solutions,” Lepore said.

He said the drill rigs were placed after a year of community input, all the environment concerns have been addressed, and the wells are there to stay.

“(The residents) have choices,” Lepore said.

That’s an answer Barwinski says is unacceptable.

“Our legislators know we need a solution that works for Colorado,” she said.

Oil and Gas executives have approved another 67 oil wells to be dug in Greeley, and several are planned near a school.

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