Safe and Healthy Communities

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Impacted Coloradans are suffering from cumulative health impacts of oil and gas operations being conducted in our neighborhoods. This isn’t theoretical. It’s actual. And happening now, today, along the Front Range.
 – Emily B, Erie

Perspectives on oil and gas from impacted communities

Neighborhood drilling and unchecked oil and gas development have put our communities at risk for too long. For the last 66 years the COGCC, the State of Colorado’s manager of oil and gas activity, has operated under a mandate not to regulate, but to “foster” the industry’s work. As fracking boomed in the late 2000’s, local governments struggled to keep their regulations and oversight paced with the technology and lobbying power of a booming, multi-trillion dollar industry. The COGCC, a regulatory agency without the legal power to even deny a drilling permit, mostly let these communities fend for themselves, with little to no information about how the fracking boom and bust would impact their health, safety, and economies in the future.

Map of Colorado with current and proposed wells

Colorado has over 4,500 pending permits for new wells (on over 400 new sites). Almost ALL of them are proposed for the Denver metro and along the I-25 Corridor.

New proposed oil and gas wells and sites
County New Wells New Sites
Adams 403 27
Arapahoe 147 33
Boulder 62 3
Larimer 48 7
Garfield 384 13
Weld 3,166 266
Total 4,566 431

In Colorado there are

active well icon

Active wells

inactive well icon

Inactive wells

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Abandoned wells

In 2020, as a global pandemic forced Coloradans to shelter at home, a largely unregulated industry continued to drill, extract, and run heavily-emitting “flowback” operations near homes and schools, even as health experts warned of a connection between poor air quality and COVID-19 deaths. The crashing economy sent industry leaders into bankruptcy, increasing the risk that their leaky abandoned wells and hazardous infrastructure will be left behind as the COGCC lacks the authority and funding to require their removal. And local governments facing understaffing and budget shortfalls are left wondering how they can protect their neighborhoods against these threats amidst an unprecedented economic and public health crisis.

This is a pivotal moment. Coloradans must be able look ahead to a recovery that rebuilds with the knowledge that energy development will be managed to protect the health and safety of Colorado families and the needs of local communities working to build a new and resilient economy without the constant threat of an industry run rampant.

We’ve waited over a year already. It’s time to level the playing field. The COGCC can either use this moment to create robust rules and regulations to protect public health and safety, or we can be held back by ongoing uncertainty and the burden of unregulated development, abandoned infrastructure, and ineffective oversight.

With 51,000+ active wells and more than 4,500 pending permits, Colorado can’t afford to wait any longer. It is time to put our communities first.

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The consequence is that we are now surrounded by a constellation of wells that have moved closer and closer to houses, schools, and playgrounds.
 – Pat W, Erie