The first step was taken last week, in an effort to get an initiative on the ballot to increase setbacks for fracking operations close to vulnerable areas like schools. The measure is the work of Colorado Rising, a coalition of groups throughout the state that include grass roots organizations working to keep fracking out of their communities and larger environmental groups.
Last week they handed in their ballot language for approval by the Secretary of State’s office. After the Secretary of State approves ballot language, the signature gathering process can begin. The group will need to get 95,000 valid signatures in order to qualify for the 2018 ballot that could result in a statutory amendment.
Suzanne Spiegel with Colorado Rising, says that fracking is ramping up in Colorado once again, and future activity is on a collision course with eight out of ten of Colorado’s fastest growing communities. “Right now in Colorado there is almost no protection for communities from fracking, so currently, as a lot of communities know first hand, oil and gas companies can come into neighborhoods at the moment, and they can set up operations as close as 500 feet away from homes, and as close as 1000 feet from schools. So these operations, sometimes massive operations, 67well pads are setting up literally right next to homes and schools and rivers and other water sources, and they’re doing really toxic operations that are affecting people, and so what this ballot initiative does is that it would require all of these operations to be a half mile set back, set away from these sensitive and vulnerable areas in Colorado.”
In Colorado, oil and gas setbacks are currently 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools. Colorado Rising’s ballot measure is calling for a 2,500-foot buffer zone (almost one-half mile), which proponents say aligns with the Colorado School of Public health study, which found that the most grave health impacts from fracking activities are experienced by people living within one-half mile of operations.
Spiegel says the increased buffer would also help to keep more homes and schools out of the blast zone of potential oil, fracked gas, and chemical explosions.