Colorado Rising submitted over 171,000 signatures for the “Safer Setbacks from Fracking” initiative to the Secretary of State Monday morning, far more than the threshold required to qualify for the ballot in November. This grassroots effort was led by more than 750 Colorado volunteers from across the state, including 350 Colorado volunteers and staff. The groundswell of community spirit has been inspiring and overwhelming! Thanks to the dedication of everyone who worked so hard with Colorado Rising gathering signatures, hosting house parties, leading teams, donating, staying up all night processing petitions and more to ensure we crossed the finish line – we did it!
Initiative #97 creates 2500’ buffer zones between oil and gas operations and homes and schools, water sources and playgrounds. The distance of 2500’ – almost one-half mile – aligns with studies that show increased risk of negative health impacts within this zone. The setback distance also matches the emergency evacuation radius used by first responders when faced with explosions, fires and toxic leaks. In 2017 alone, there were 15 oil and gas industry fires and explosions in Colorado including the tragic Firestone home explosion that killed two men and severely burned a schoolteacher. More than 1,000 complaints have been filed in Colorado in a single year about contaminated water, inability to sleep or work due to noxious fumes and extremely loud noise, headaches, nosebleeds, asthma and other grave health impacts.
“This industry robbed me of my peace of mind of when they began construction of a 24 well pad site behind my son’s school,” said Patricia Nelson mother of a student at Bella Romero Academy and volunteer for the campaign. “They have money and power, but we have things that cannot be bought. The love for our children and our community has driven us to succeed. This has been a labor of love. We are ready to be a voice for our children and the future of Colorado.”
“Oil and gas development has exploded over the last seven years in Weld County, and I have witnessed a change in the way people view the issue,” said Therese Gilbert schoolteacher from Greeley. “As more people experience what it is like to have fracking happen so close to where they live – the explosions, weekly spill reports, their children getting asthma, they are now saying ‘enough is enough.’ When the frack wells started going in right behind schools, a line was crossed. The industry cannot be allowed to take risks with our children.”
“We are proud and thankful for this monumental effort by the people of Colorado to create a commonsense setback from this increasingly brazen and destructive industry. We are committed to protecting our neighborhoods from this explosive and toxic industrial development that risks our children’s health and jeopardizes the safety of our homes,” said Colorado Rising President Tricia Olson.
We know that there will be many more challenges to come, and we look forward to the next phase of this effort. This week, we celebrate each and every one of you who contributed so much to make this win possible! We will let you know as soon as the secretary of state makes its determination. Stay tuned!