Business organizations, some local elected officials and industry representatives warn the sweeping changes will undermine an industry that a report commissioned by the
The debate isn’t going to die down anytime soon. Ballot proposals have been filed to repeal SB 181 and could go to voters if enough signatures are collected. And the
Far away from the capitol, those bracing for the changes include workers who drill and service the wells; people concerned about the potential health effects of nearby drilling; and mineral rights owners and business people dependent on revenue the industry produces.
Among the Coloradans watching and waiting are
Uncertainty and anxiety
Lutz takes pride in his work, his crew and his company, which provides hydraulic fracturing — fracking — and engineering services for oil and gas companies in fields from
“A typical pumping unit runs with about a 2,500-horsepower engine,” Lutz said of equipment that blends and injects water, sand and chemicals underground to fracture the shale and release oil and gas. “A 2,500-horsepower engine is pretty loud when it’s throttled up.”
But the big enclosure developed by Liberty to fit over the engines allows people standing right next to it to have normal conversations, Lutz said. He explains that the company has changed how the sand it uses is trucked and delivered to cut down on dust.
Lutz, who oversees one of the company’s eight
Certain parts of the bill, like stronger oversight of pipelines and well flow lines, aren’t the problem, Lutz said. He worries that other parts, like giving cities and counties the option of writing their own regulations, could stifle production.
“I told (lawmakers) that having to watch my guys struggle again, like we did in the last downturn would be hard. It’d be especially hard knowing that it was at the hands of politicians that I potentially helped elect, because I’m a Democrat,” Lutz said.
Drilling just wasn’t on the radar
Are the drilling rigs moving into neighborhoods or are the neighborhoods moving to the oil and gas patch? Both are happening. But there’s no question
However, the prospect of being surrounded by wells wasn’t on
“The location was good. My husband works in
But just a few months later, when drilling began on wells about a quarter mile from their house, Maciula said she and her husband realized their dream of sending their children — now 4 and 2 — to high school in
Maciula, a pediatric speech pathologist, said she, her son and daughter started getting sick. The kids had some of the normal childhood illnesses — colds, flus — but couldn’t seem to shake them.
Maciula decided to have blood tests run on her and the children. The results of tests ordered by an area naturopathic doctor and shared by Maciula showed high levels of benzene in all three and a high level of ethylbenzene in her daughter.
Benzene, which can cause cancer, and ethyl benzene, are toxic volatile organic compounds associated with drilling that can be released through emissions. A 2018 study by the
More study is definitely needed, Maciula said. Since moving to the Golden area, her daughter’s blood levels have returned to normal, she said. She decided to test only her daughter to try to save money.
“I don’t have definitive proof that this is where my children got benzene,” Maciula said during a visit last week to her old neighborhood. “But I think there needs to be studies done immediately because these children are growing up in this environment.”
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Already seeing the impact
Evans is the general and operations manager of the Greeley Homewood Suites, an extended-stay Hilton hotel. About 60 percent of the hotel’s clients work in oil and gas and associated businesses. Uncertainty about the future of the industry in
“They’ve been with me over two years,” Evans said. “Some of the companies they work for are putting things on hold until they find out what happens with this bill.”
Evans testified at the capitol against the legislation. She told lawmakers that 14 Greeley hotels employing 500 people owe half of their business to oil and gas employees, accounting for $5 million in revenue annually.
“I’m in the hospitality business, and if I treated people like I didn’t want them here, it would have an impact,” Evans said. “Essentially that’s what the state is saying to oil and gas companies — we don’t want you here.”
Not in my backyard — or anybody’s
“We need natural gas. We need crude oil. We need to not be dependent on other countries for our energy supplies,” Devanney said. “But we don’t need to develop those resources in residential communities.”
Devanney, who lives in
The wells, slightly farther than the mandatory 500 feet from homes, would be the second phase of a project by Ursa Resources that includes 31 other wells. In the past two years, Ursa drilled 52 wells in
Before moving from the
“I’m a modified NIMBY — not in my backyard, not in your back yard. Not in anybody’s back yard.”
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