On August 12, 2014, the town hall in Erie, CO overflowed with residents as the Town Council considered whether or not to approve Encana’s bid to develop new natural gas well sites next to the subdivisions of Vista Ridge and Vista Pointe. Many of us spoke out about our concerns of noise and air pollution, as well as documented health consequences stemming from release of the chemicals used in the fracking process (i.e. hydraulic fracturing) into our local environment. A few residents expressed fears of plummeting property values. As the evening progressed, I learned that while our town trustees seemed to be looking for ways to say “no” to Encana’s bid, they had no legal recourse to do so. They could only base their approval on whether the bid met 4 criteria:
1. Whether or not the setbacks to existing structures met the 500 ft minimum set by the State of Colorado
2. Whether the access roads were sufficient
3. Whether fencing would be adequate
4. Whether the color of the operational facilities met with current regulations.
They concluded that Encana met the criteria, and the bid was approved. Encana will drill 13 new wells at two different sites in Erie.
Just over a month has passed since that meeting. While many of our neighboring communities (Broomfield, Longmont, Boulder) continue to uphold moratoriums on new oil/gas development, here in Erie, new drilling and fracking operations are already underway.
Here we arrive at the heart of the purpose of my blog: to document the sights, sounds, and smells of living next to oil/gas driling operations. In the upcoming days and weeks, I plan to share my personal experiences and understanding of fracking in my neighborhood.