Impacted Coloradans are suffering
By February I had, along with my soon to be new husband, chosen an eight year old house on six acres about a mile out of Erie, Colorado. We were excited to refocus our personal efforts on restoring this small piece of land back to the days before it was overgrazed by cattle.
In 2018, my bright, charming, healthy, active, soccer-playing, 7 year old son began vomiting. And he didn’t stop for 5 months. He fell gravely ill. We took him to doctors and specialists and spent many scary hours in the ER. He underwent scans and tests and pokes and exams, none of which brought any answers or any relief. Until finally, during one of those visits, a nurse asked how close the nearest fracking well was to us, she’d seen my son’s symptoms before. My son was sick from exposure to noxious chemicals from the sites surrounding our home and his school and parks where he plays soccer. We are saturated. I spent weeks and months at my kitchen table pouring through COGCC records attempting to recreate the timelines of what was happening at fracking sites around my home. I was embarking on a terrifying and frustrating education. I taught myself to use tools and websites to create at least partial lists of chemicals used at those sites and took those lists to the CDPHE and to people I know in the industry, asking if any of these chemicals could be what caused my son’s illness. Mostly, I received answers like, there are no studies saying whether this chemical or that one would make someone sick. I realize now, months down the road, how broken the system must be that I, a mom with a sick kid, was piecing all of this together alone. LOGIC stepped in to help connect me with legislators, directors, and people who have decision making power, elevating my voice and my family’s experience.
Colorado families need legislators and commissioners of the COGCC – along with officials from the CDPHE – to build a framework with protocols that are tripped when someone presents with exposure illness so that Mothers are not left alone at their dining room tables trying to piece together what happened and how to fix it. We need an understanding of what exposure illness looks like and guidelines for effective treatment that are communicated with local health professionals. We need thresholds that take into account the extended VOC exposure we experience with multi-well super pads popping up in our neighborhoods, the density of VOC’s that collect in low-lying areas, and health impacts that are showing up well below EPA standards. Colorado families need the state to recognize impacts suffered by Coloradoans living near oil and gas development and end the dangerous practice of neighborhood drilling.
Emily B.s, Erie