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Legislative hearing on HB 1256 Please Show To Support This Bill to Protect Children from Fracking!

  • Senate committee Room 357 200 East Colfax Avenue Denver, CO, 80203 United States (map)

PLEASE TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT CHILDREN using school playgrounds, soccer fields and outdoor classrooms FROM OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT
Northridge High School track and field in Greeley set up for graduation. Oil drilling rig is 400 feet from the school track.
Currently, Colorado law requires oil and gas development to be at least 1,000-feet from school buildings. This requirement leaves playgrounds, sports fields, and outdoor classrooms unprotected.
House Bill 1256 is a common-sense adjustment to current law to measure the 1,000-ft setback from school property lines rather than the school building itself. This legislation is supported by several school organizations and local government officials. The only opposition to the bill is from oil and gas industry lobbyists. Unfortunately, there are over 50 oil and gas lobbyists in the state capitol right now working to defeat this bill.




Current law in Colorado states that the minimum mandatory distance for new oil and gas facilities is 1,000 feet from any “high-occupancy building,” which includes schools. However, in practice this means that the measurement starts from the building itself and not the property line. School children - who play on surrounding sports fields and outdoor areas and attend classes in modular classrooms - are significantly less protected as a result.
HB1256 will clarify that for public and private schools and childcare centers the property line (rather than the building) is the measuring point for new oil and gas facilities. This simple, common sense clarification will help protect our children from the potential negative health impacts of oil and gas development. Failure to close this loophole in the existing law places school children at risk of the health and safety dangers associated with close proximity to oil and gas operations, including air pollution and the results of blowouts.
There are several examples of where oil and gas wells have been placed within 1,000 feet of school property. For example, on Friday, March 10, the state approved 25 wells approximately 600 feet away from the Bella Romero Academy school’s property line and its adjacent soccer fields, but 1,360 feet away from the school building in Weld County. A 22-well proposal near Grand Valley High School, in Garfield County would be less than 300 feet from the school property.
HB-1256 would:
● Protect areas where children play. Measuring from the school boundary would mean that playgrounds, athletic fields, outdoor lunch areas, modular classrooms, and other areas used on a daily basis by school children are now included in the law.
● Increase consistency. This bill treats the oil and gas industry like other industries engaged in activities requiring setbacks. Denver1, Aurora2 and Pueblo3 all have 1,000-foot mandatory perimeters from the property line of schools with regard to selling, growing, transferring or distributing marijuana. Similarly, the federal “drug-free school” statute creates a zone within 1,000 feet of the school’s property line.4
● Better protection from pollutants from oil and gas facilities that are harmful to the health of children. Oil and natural gas facilities release particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic compounds, such as benzene and toluene, that negatively impact human health, which have been shown to disproportionately impact children. These pollutants are dangerous enough for children that Colorado has an idling law for diesel vehicles, including school buses, that limits idling because similar pollutants are emitted.
● Affords more protection from accidents. The effects of an oil and gas accident are not restricted to 1,000 feet. For example, a recent well blowout in Hudson, Colorado sprayed a mist of oil, gas, and drilling waste water over an area 2,000 feet long by 1,000 feet wide. Additionally, in Frederick, Colorado, an oil storage tank fire 1,800 feet from Legacy Elementary School required students and teachers to shelter in place.
● Helps minimize the negative impacts of drilling. The majority of residential complaints about noise, odor, and dust come from within 1,000 feet of an oil or natural gas facility.