Fracking Opponents Descend on Downtown Denver
The ongoing debate over fracking took another turn locally Tuesday when a group of northern Colorado moms opposed to the process took their case directly to an oil company that plans to drill near schools and homes.
The move is just the latest clash between homeowners and the industry on the Front Range, where oil and gas drilling is booming.
Jen Palazzolo, co-founder of the group Erie Rising, organized the trip to Encana Oil and Gas's US corporate headquarters in downtown Denver to demand in person that the company abandon its plans to drill near two schools in Erie - one of which her six year old daughter attends.
"It’s where kids spend the majority of their day, the majority of their time throughout the school year," Palazzolo said. "The risk is just too great with trucks and truck traffic coming right through the subdivisions."
Palazzolo, with her kids in tow, later walked into the skyscraper behind her and hand-delivered to Encana officials a petition she said contained 20,000 signatures of people opposed to fracking near homes and schools.
For its part, Encana has no immediate plans to reverse course. Much of the drilling in places like Erie has been occurring in areas where mineral leases predate more recent subdivisions and other developments.
The company did however agree to postpone drilling at the site until after school gets out this spring.
"We also have to keep in mind the rights of the mineral owners to have their minerals developed," said Wendy Wiedenbeck, the company's community relations advisor. "We need to also keep in mind the fact that we shouldn’t abandon those rights nor should we abandon the work that we do or the jobs that we provide."
Wiedenbeck said the planned drilling sites in question will be more than 1,600 feet away from the schools and nearby subdivisions. That’s well beyond the state mandated set-back rule of 350 feet.