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Public Statements

Domestic Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. POLIS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, my amendment would better protect the health of children by providing for a 1,000-foot buffer between schools and oil or gas drilling using the technique commonly known as fracking.

Hydraulic fracturing is a national issue, and natural gas is an important part of our national energy policy. According to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, currently oil or gas production occurs in 33 States. Fracking occurs on more than 90 percent of oil and natural gas wells in the U.S.

Advances in unconventional oil and natural gas extraction have led to an increase in fracking near where people live, work, and play in my district, across Colorado, and across the United States. That means increased exposure to toxic chemicals for kids in school and the air that researchers have found near wells, as well as noise and the nuisance of heavy truck traffic.

A recent report by the Colorado School of Public Health indicated that residents living less than half of a mile from wells were at a greater risk of acute and chronic health problems than those who live more than half of a mile from drilling sites; including exposure to air pollutants like benzene, a known carcinogen, at a level five times higher than the Federal hazard standard.

Given this risk and the need for more information, we should obviously err on the side of caution, particularly when it comes to children. We need additional studies to better understand the health impacts; but, given what we know, frankly, it's time to act.

Now, we've already set some basic standards when we know pollutants may put children at risk. As an example, in my district in Colorado, commercial diesel vehicles are prohibited from idling for more than 5 minutes within 1,000 feet of a school. In New York, fracking operations may be placed 100 feet from a home and 150 feet from a public building.

A review of active and prospective wells in four northern Colorado counties found 26 schools that have drilling wells operational emitting toxic gases within 1,000 feet of schools.

In Erie, Colorado, I met with homeowners and parents who are increasingly concerned about the impacts of fracking on their health and their children's health. We should be listening to their voices and not just the demands of energy companies. We need to find a reasonable compromise to address the concerns of families in Erie and across America.

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Mr. POLIS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the remainder of my time.

I would ask my colleagues to ask themselves, would they want their kids to be 300 feet, 500 feet, every day from a fracking site? Three hundred feet is the size of one football field. Fracking is scientifically documented as producing air pollution. We know the level of air pollution that is promoted, and it is measured.

Advances in technology make reasonable accommodations possible. Directional drilling means we can actually locate wells miles from schools and still extract the oil and natural gas resources we need and make sure that our children remain healthy.

I'm hopeful that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle support this commonsense amendment that will protect public health, ensure the safe development of natural gas and promote domestic energy production.

I urge a ``yes'' vote on this amendment, I urge my colleagues to join me in keeping our children safe, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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