Impacted Resident Testimony

Colorado families are worried

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As a mother to two small children, and as an oil and gas impacted citizen, I am deeply concerned about neighborhood drilling. Protecting my children is the most important thing I will ever do, and their health and safety is being threatened by the encroachment of oil and gas into our neighborhood. It is time to do something about the unsafe industrial facilities that are being placed next to our homes and schools.
I grew up in Thornton, attended school in Thornton, and moved home to Thornton after I graduated college. When it was time to decide where to buy the home where we would raise our family, my husband and I very deliberately chose north Thornton, based on my decades of experience with the area. I knew from personal experience that my neighborhood had historically been a safe, healthy place to raise a family. Or at least, I thought I knew. After my husband and I purchased our “forever home”, we found out that it would be difficult for us to have children. We fought hard to bring our two children into this world, and we have been blessed with two beautiful gifts. Throughout our battles with infertility, pregnancy complications, hospitalizations, and pre-term labor, we had many worries. But I never imagined that raising my children near multiple industrial facilities that emit toxic chemicals into the air that we breathe would be one of them. But that is our reality, because in Colorado in 2020, well pads are bigger and closer to homes than ever before. It breaks my heart that the home that we so deliberately chose for its safety may no longer be safe, thanks to the encroachment of oil and gas.
In suburban Adams County in 2019, there were 650 proposed wells on 34 sites. 33 of which were located next to homes and schools. Several of them are near my suburban home.”
In suburban Adams County in 2019, there were 650 proposed wells on 34 sites. 33 of which were located next to homes and schools. Several of them are near my suburban home. Further, there currently 275 currently identified orphan wells in the state, including several that are located near my home. Such sites expose our communities to toxic emissions, dangerous chemicals, and old industrial equipment. I know of at least 2 of these sites in suburban Thornton have leaked and leached chemicals into the ground. One of these sites was located right next to a kiddie playground and it contaminated the air and groundwater where small children played, thus put their health at risk. And we’re not alone – the same thing is happening all over the state, at a time when more and more oil and gas companies are going under and leaving taxpayers to cover the cost of cleaning up the toxic messes they created. This is unprecedented and it is wrong. We deserve a healthy and safe community. Colorado families are worried. This fear is not a knee jerk reaction. We’ve done our research. Peer-reviewed, scientific studies indicate that oil and gas development has a negative impact on health. When I was pregnant with my now 1 year old, I learned that pregnant women living near fracking sites have an increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, and their newborn babies have an increased risk of poor birth outcomes such as birth defects and preterm birth. These statistics impacted me deeply and cast a shadow over my already high-risk pregnancy.. I was terrified for myself and my baby, and I’m afraid for my pregnant neighbors now. And the older children living near these sites, like my children? They have an increased risk of cancer, hematological issues, respiratory issues, and cardiovascular issues. This is the air we breathe every day, and it is toxic. Yet despite the academic research and crowded history of accidents, the state continues to approve applications. As a result, I have spent years of my life fighting the industry and advocating for my children’s health and safety, at times being consumed by it. I wish I could say that my efforts have paid off, but I have many moments where I felt like the state doesn’t care about us. However, there have been some successes along the way, including the passes of Senate Bill 19-181. It is my deepest hope that the COGCC will finally do what is right and finally start listening to impacted Coloradans and protecting people over corporate profits. The industry must be held accountable. We deserve a safe and healthy environment.

Suzie B., Thornton