With Coloradans increasingly concerned about oil and gas drilling encroaching on suburban areas and schools, Congressman Jared Polis today met with two affected Erie homeowners and the local organization Erie Rising to listen to their concerns and discuss legislation he has authored to curb air and water pollution related to fracking and other drilling practices.
"With all the pollution and health problems being reported nationally, Coloradans have a right to know what fracking and drilling will mean for their air, water and property values, especially near homes and schools," said Polis. "It's our responsibility to ensure that safety is a top priority as new drilling comes closer and closer to where we live. Natural gas is an important part of our energy future, but we have to make sure we extract it in the right way and minimize health and property damage."
Polis visited the homes of Erie residents Rob Brueske and April Beach to discuss how local drilling has impacted their homes, communities and schools. Brueske has been forced to relocate from his home due to nearby drilling activity. Beach formed Erie Rising due to concerns about the possible health impacts of fracking near schools.
"We're grateful that Jared Polis will be visiting the community of Erie to see first-hand the potential negative impacts planned gas wells will have on our children," said Beach. "We are concerned about possible health risks for our families as well as environmental and community concerns, and very much appreciate Mr. Polis' time and consideration of these matters."
Polis authored the Bringing Reductions to Energy's Airborne Toxic Health Effects (BREATHE) Act, which would address air quality and health concerns by closing loopholes that contribute to large-scale smog and ozone problems, as well as the acute health effects of drilling emissions. Polis also co-authored the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, legislation that would remove the oil and gas industry's exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act and require the disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking fluids.
Fracturing fluids contain toxic chemicals that are known causes of certain cancers, birth defects, and blood and nervous system disorders. Gas drilling air emissions also contain benzene and sulfur dioxide, and lead to ozone formation which can have severe respiratory and nervous system impacts. Companies are not required to divulge the chemicals that they use, or the amounts, often stymieing regulators trying to hold companies accountable for spills or well contaminations. Because drilling air emissions are not accounted for properly, many western and even rural communities have experienced city scale air pollution.
While some forms of fracking have been used for decades, horizontal drilling with modern chemicals for shale gas is a new technology that has pushed drilling into new places and in higher quantities. The term "fracking,' has been increasingly used to describe in total the horizontal shale gas drilling process.