Harv Teitelbaum oil and gas

The mountain of scientific, peer-reviewed evidence showing toxic health risks to those living near fracking operations grows almost daily. In 2012, 2014, and 2017 Colorado studies alone, toxic risks were found for neurological, respiratory, hematological, and developmental health issues, along with a higher risk of cancer.

There were also higher risks for babies to be born with neural tube defects and congenital heart defects, along with childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia. Many of these risks were most pronounced within an approximately 1/2 mile radius of high density fracking operations, with some toxic effects found much farther away.

There is also the not insignificant risk of fires and explosions, with some officials recommending blast zone evacuation radii of between .8 and 1 mile from operations.

Of course, besides fracking’s harmful effects on Coloradans’ health, safety and welfare, there are also large-scale impacts on our climate. United Nations climatologists just released a major report on climate change indicating that we have about 12 years left before we experience irreversible catastrophic effects. Already, rising sea levels, supercharged hurricanes, droughts, floods, refugee crises and more have become the norm. A major cause of climate change is the little-restricted production and combustion of fracked gas/oil. We need to make the connection between the grip the fracked gas/oil industry has on our society, and the environmental crises that grip is bringing to us and future generations.

I say “little restricted” because we have been unable to find even one instance where the state regulatory agency, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, has ever denied a fracking permit application. If such a toxic, heavy industrial operation is to be so routinely rubber-stamped by the state agency charged with representing our best interests, there must at least be appropriate buffer zones between those operations and our homes, schools, neighborhoods and families.

As for jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the logging and mining sector in our state employs about 29,000 people, one percent of our entire state labor force, and a far cry from the 200K plus numbers used in some industry ads. Many, if not most, of the employment numbers the industry claims are for temporary, nonlocal workers, or for jobs only marginally or theoretically connected to the industry. Furthermore, while we value all productive employment, jobs in solar and other renewables are far more sustainable and safe for both workers and neighbors, now outnumber those in oil and gas, are increasing at a faster pace, and have far greater longterm potential to enhance tax revenues and the state’s economic health.

Modern fracking can drill out a mile and a half laterally underground. With 112, there will still be much rural and government surface area available to operators in Colorado, and they will still be able to access many cubic miles of underground territory from each multiwell pad.

Indeed, a just-released Colorado School of Mines analysis found that, even if only using 1 mile laterals, “42 percent of (Colorado’s) nonfederal subsurface would be accessible, or nearly three times the available surface area,” under Prop 112.

We shouldn’t have to accept fracking right next to our homes, schools, playgrounds, and neighborhoods. Please consider all the real facts carefully. I’m confident that, like me, you’ll support and vote for Proposition 112.

Harv Teitelbaum is with the Beyond Oil and Gas Campaign of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Sierra Club. He lives in Evergreen.

Harv Teitelbaum is with the Beyond Oil and Gas Campaign of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Sierra Club. He lives in Evergreen.

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