Erie Rising rallies to protect children's health

Last Saturday, hundreds of people rallied and marched in Erie, CO to demand that Encana Oil & Gas halt construction of fracked gas wells that are being built next to three local schools. Since late last year when Encana announced plans to build eight wells at the Canyon Creek drill pad, located just a few hundred yards from Red Hawk Elementary School, local mothers have been fighting back. They formed Erie Rising, a grassroots group of mothers dedicated to protecting their children and children everywhere from the harmful effects of fracking, and organized Saturday's rally to highlight the unique risk fracking poses to children.

At the rally, the four co-founders of Erie Rising and representatives from allied organizations described the severe risk fracking poses to children's health, state and local government's failure to prevent the fracking industry from endangering Colorado citizens, and the gas industry's calculated indifference to the devastation it brings to local communities. Water Defense field organizer Russell Mendell read a statement from MarkRuffalo that began:

It’s an honor to stand in solidarity with the mothers of Erie Rising.  Their courage and commitment to the health and well-being of their children and their community is an inspiration to people everywhere.  The best scientific evidence available indicates that air emissions from fracking, which include benzene and ozone-causing gases like propane, put children at risk for everything from asthma to cancer. Governor Hickenlooper, you are charged with protecting the people of Colorado first, not protecting the special interests, and we have faith you will intervene in Erie to protect the health of the children.

After the rally, Erie Rising led a march to Red Hawk Elementary School. Marchers held hands and formed a human chain around the entrance to Encana's drill site while Erie Rising co-founder Angie Nordstrum, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Jen Palazzolo, Wendy Leonard and April Beach, the group's other co-founders, read Erie Rising's Mother's Day appeal to Encana. Part of the letter described their "one wish for Mother's Day":

Our wish is that our children attend schools where they are not at risk of toxic chemical exposure, subterranean radioactive substances and toxic metals. Our wish is that our children get to harvest tomatoes and lettuce from their organic school garden; fresh produce that has not been contaminated by chemical laden air particles. Our wish is for our children play tetherball on the playground without having difficulty breathing. Our wish is that our children will not suffer from fracking chemical related nosebleeds. Our wish is that our children will grow up cancer free.

Online, supporters from around the country, including singer/songwriter Natalie Merchant and anti-fracking luminary Sandra Steingraber, tweeted at Governor Hickenlooper demanding that he block Encana's plans to drill in Erie and circulated petitions on Facebook.

The fight for justice in Erie will continue. To support the mothers of Erie Rising, click here to sign a petition demanding that Governor Hickenlooper prevent Encana from drilling at the Canyon Creek well pad.