By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4)– Dozens of people testified Monday during the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meeting in Denver.
The room was packed with many people flowing into the hallway. More than 20 people testified, imploring commissioners to prioritize public health and safety over profit from new drilling permits.
They specifically asked the commission to stop issuing new permits until it could prove that each individual permit would not pose a threat to public and environmental health.
“There’s a whole other way you’re supposed to look at oil and gas regulation in Colorado. Not balanced, but you’re supposed to prioritize and put people first you have to prove that it’s safe. You cannot do that. There have been an increasing number of studies and tragedies that have happened that prove that it is not safe,” said Amanda Harper of Longmont.
Another issue that came up was the distance fracking is allowed from schools and homes. Under Colorado’s current regulations, fracking can occur within 500 feet of a school.
“If it’s good enough for the people in New York and Maryland, why isn’t it good enough for the people of Colorado to ban fracking near homes and schools?” asked Andrew J. O’Connor of Lafayette.
In Thornton, Great Western Oil is seeking permits to drill directly under the Homestead Hills neighborhood. Several community members from the area spoke to commissioners Tuesday.
“I believe that the unavoidable seismic activity that’s going to happen within a few hundred feet underneath my home in particular but we have other homes there as well is going to cause further structural problems. We already have some improper building and foundation work in our neighborhoods that are already causing problems and I believe that this is going to exacerbate it,” said Martian Wickline, resident of the Homestead Hills subdivision.
“I’m talking specifically about economics and economic harm that is going to happen to these citizens and these neighborhoods and the public benefit does not appear to be served in this case. You are talking about hundreds and hundreds of homeowners that are going to be directly over top of these wellbore sites and the bottom holes and you are talking about one operating company who undoubtedly has other options, other places to drill that don’t include hundreds and hundreds of homes.”
COGCC allowed everyone to speak on Monday. After public testimony ended, the group broke into a pre-rehearsed chant and were escorted out of the building.
“We know that no movement is won overnight and this is an issue that our lives depend on. We’re fighting literally one of the most powerful industries on the planet but we know that if people get together and continue to fight that we will win and we’re not going to stop until we do,” said Lauren Petrie, the Rocky Mountain Region Director of Food and Water Watch.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015. She is currently a reporter for CBS4 This Morning, which means she is always on the go, covering a wide variety of breaking local news and important local events. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.