A long-delayed public health study commissioned by Colorado regulators found that oil and gas drilling poses health risks at distances greater than current minimum "setback" requirements, a development that could send shock waves through a regulatory environment already in a state of transition and uncertainty.
"Exposure to chemicals used in oil and gas development, such as benzene, may cause short-term negative health impacts…during 'worst-case' conditions," the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a release accompanying the report, which came out October 17. "The study found that there is a possibility of negative health impacts at distances from 300 feet out to 2,000 feet."
While the study was years in the making, readers were quick to respond. Says Trevor:
Can't wait for the "Is water wet?" study...
It’s okay! Trump will fix this, he’s got all the environmental answers.
Whaaaaaaat? Are you trying to tell us those documentaries on fracking that came out fifteen years ago were correct? That those of us who refused to move to Weld, Adams and Laramie counties due to the f****** Frack Fest there were aware of this?
I’m on a rig outside of Broomfield right now. I feel fine. Haha.
Remember when we had the chance to vote on increasing the space between frack sites and public spaces last year? Remember how it got spun as something that would hurt job growth in Colorado, then everyone sided with the frack corporations and put their profits ahead of public health?
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The state's current rules require new oil and gas wells to be at least 500 feet from single-family homes and 1,000 feet from high-occupancy buildings. Proposition 112, the statewide ballot measure pushed by environmental groups and defeated by Colorado voters in 2018, would have imposed a 2,500-foot minimum.
But last year, the Colorado Legislature passed SB 181, which gives local municipalities more control. And some are now poised to take it.
At a press conference October 17, state toxicologist Kristy Richardson said that the results of the study are consistent with the health impacts that have been reported by Colorado residents near oil and gas sites in recent years. “We’ve received, since 2015, about 750 health concerns that have been reported through our hotline,” she explained. “About 60 percent of those concerns reported to us are things like headaches, nosebleeds, respiratory issues, skin irritation.”
What do you think about fracking in Colorado? The report? Let us know in a comment or at firstname.lastname@example.org.