If you have an oil and gas well in your neighborhood, you probably want the whole operation to be at a safe distance from your home. But it’s not that simple. The minimum allowed distance – called a setback – isn’t entirely based on math and science. It is usually a compromise between a variety of competing interests.
How Close Is Too Close?
“We used to be worried about asthma and cancers and ruining our water. Now we’re also worried about our houses blowing up,” said Barbara Mills-Bria, of Lakewood, Colo., during a recent public meeting with oil and gas regulators in Denver.
A longtime critic of the oil and gas industry had some surprising comments for Colorado’s business community at a luncheon last week.
Colorado is “in a great place as a state” when it comes to the energy sector, according to Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who offered his outlook on the state’s energy market and competitiveness at a recent event sponsored by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI).
Polis’s universal optimism came as a surprise to some of those in attendance familiar with his record of trying to stop oil and gas development.
By Ryan Schleeter
Despite industry claims to the contrary, history shows that there is simply no safe way to transport fossil fuels, and pipelines are no exception.
The rate and volume of pipeline spills in the U.S. has increased in recent years, with devastating consequences for communities and our environment. In the past decade, U.S. pipeline spills have led to 20 fatalities, 35 injuries, $2.6 billion in costs and more than 34 million gallons spilled. That’s an average of 9,000 gallons of hazardous liquids spilled every single day for ten years.
And yet Donald Trump’s pro-fossil fuel agenda means we could be facing a massive expansion of the U.S. pipeline network, including increased development in the Canadian tar sands. If that happens, it would be disastrous for the climate and violate the rights of tribes and First Nations on both sides of the border.
An environmental bill of rights in Carbondale would advocate items including clean air, clean water, protected “viewscapes,” increased recycling, automobile alternatives and “unimpeded views of the quintessential Western night sky.”
It wouldn’t have the force of law, but the whole Carbondale Board of Trustees supports the idea as a “guiding document.”
Trustees have described it as a “filter” that the board would use in its decision making, but nothing as forceful as an ordinance. As Trustee Heather Henry put it, the environmental bill of rights is seen as an “overarching document, not a policy document.” This will be a bill of rights to hang on the boardroom wall and distribute through town.