June 29, 2018
Commissioners unanimously support Initiative #97 to increase setback requirements for oil and gas development
Statement by the Board of County Commissioners
(Boulder County, Colo. - June 29, 2018) -- The Board of County Commissioners unanimously supports Colorado Rising’s efforts to place citizen Initiative #97, which is in the signature-gathering phase, on the statewide ballot in November 2018.
Initiative #97 would require a statewide 2,500-foot minimum setback – nearly a half mile buffer zone – for new oil and gas development from all occupied structures (e.g., homes and schools), and any other areas designated for additional protection such as playgrounds and drinking water sources, in order to mitigate the adverse impacts of oil and gas development on public health, safety, and the environment.
“This initiative, if approved by voters in the fall, would be an important step in providing greater protection for those living, attending school, or obtaining drinking water within a half-mile of fracking sites, a distance which has been shown by peer-reviewed scientific studies to have increased risks and direct detrimental impacts to human health,” said County Commissioner Elise Jones.
Fracking operations have numerous negative impacts on adjacent properties including noise, light pollution, vibrations and odor. In addition, nearby residents have reported increases in eye, nose and throat symptoms, along with mild to severe asthma exacerbations.
Since the flowline-related explosion last year that killed two men and injured one woman in their Firestone home, Colorado has experienced at least a dozen reported fires and explosions at oil and gas sites resulting in death or serious injuries.
Not only are chemical releases, fires and explosions an issue, but just last year in Colorado there were 619 reported spills, including 93,000 gallons of oil into soil, groundwater and streams, and 506,000 gallons of produced water spilled. These increased setbacks would further remove neighborhoods, schools, and medical facilities from contaminated areas.
“We need to take every opportunity to move these heavy industrial facilities away from vulnerable populations across the state,” said County Commissioner Deb Gardner. “A setback of at least 2,500 feet would provide a more protective minimum buffer area for Colorado residents.”
Currently in Colorado, the state legislature and state regulators have failed to adequately protect public health, safety, welfare, and the environment from the risks and impacts of oil and gas development and local governments have limited authority to address the impacts of this development. This initiative will also allow local governments to increase the minimum beyond the 2,500 foot distance requirement to address specific local concerns.
“We support Initiative #97 because increased setbacks are necessary to help mitigate the adverse impacts of large-scale industrial oil and gas development on health, safety and the environment across Colorado, and local governments should have the ability to increase setbacks to address specific local concerns over health and safety, ” said County Commissioner Cindy Domenico. “We encourage community members to sign a petition to help qualify it for the 2018 state ballot, and, if successful, urge them to vote for the measure in November.”
Colorado Rising is currently collecting the necessary signatures for Initiative #97 to be placed on the statewide ballot in November 2018.
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