Encana Oil & Gas is putting Erie's kids at risk

Jen Palazzolo is a co-founder of Erie Rising, a grassroots, mom-powered organization dedicated to protecting children, communities and the environment from the harmful effects of gas drilling. On Saturday, June 2, Erie Rising is holding a rally to prevent the construction of eight fracked gas wells next to Erie's schools.

The oil and gas industry has already drilled 58 well pads within a 2-mile radius of Red Hawk Elementary School in Erie, CO, where my 6-year-old daughter attends school. Now Encana Oil & Gas has begun set up to drill eight more wells within 600 yards of Red Hawk, potentially putting my daughter's health at risk.  Red Hawk Elementary School is a new, $13 million, green-star school that will now have heavy industrial activity occurring in extremely close proximity. Children at Red Hawk will be able to see fracking rigs from their organic garden and classrooms and will share the roads they travel to school on with hundreds of truck carrying toxic wastewater and spewing diesel fumes.

The wells that Encana are beginning to drill next to Red Hawk aren't the only threat to my daughter's health. My small town of 19,000 only covers about 48 square miles, but has over 350 oil and gas wells. Weld County, which Erie is part of, has close to 18,000 wells - enough that  County Commissioner, Sean Conway, has called it "the new Saudi Arabia."

For me, as a mother, learning about fracking has been agonizing. A study by the Colorado School of Public Health* found that residents living within a half-mile of a fracking well had a 66 percent greater risk of cancer than those living a mile away. Data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration** shows that Erie has levels of ozone-causing gases like propane and butane that are ten times higher than Los Angeles - a city of millions. Ozone damages your lungs. Even in small amounts, it can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation. It exacerbates respiratory diseases like asthma and reduces the bodies ability to fight infection

All of these health impacts are magnified in children.

I need your help to stop Encana from putting my daughter, along with hundreds of other Erie children, at risk by drilling next to Erie's schools and daycare center. Please click here to sign a petition asking Colorado governor Hickenlooper to stop Encana from drilling wells next to Erie's schools.

We need your help here in Erie but, honestly, this isn't just about Erie, or even just about Colorado. The gas industry, along with the politicians who enable it, have endangered children all over the country. Industry lobbyists have fought for and won exemptions from key pieces of environmental and health laws. Pro-industry politicians, who have taken hundreds of millions of dollars from the gas industry, have blocked state and local laws that would have regulated fracking and forced the gas industry to disclose what chemicals it pumps into the ground.

It is time for our government to stand up to the oil and gas industry and demand protection for the safety and welfare of humanity and the environment we live in. It is time for our elected officials to hold this industry to a standard that protects the health, safety and welfare of humanity and the environment. My children’s future depends on it.


**Russo, et al- Applaichan State University, Dept. of Chemistry. VOC Measurements  from the Tower, September 2, 2011.

Photo courtesy of Erie Rising.