Jan. 30–The years-long saga of the fracking operation near Bella Romero Academy was featured Tuesday night in a segment on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, increasing national attention on the east Greeley site that was already the subject of a New York Times article.
In the piece, The Daily Show correspondent Desi Lydic visited Greeley and spoke with Bella Romero parent Patricia Nelson and lawyer Tim Estep, and questioned the proximity of the site to the school, 1400 E. 20th St.The Daily Show airs weeknights on Comedy Central.
The well pad housing 24 wells sits about 1,350 feet from the school, but just 500 feet from the school’s ball fields, according to a lawsuit related to the site.
The Daily Show’s segment focused on not only the proximity of the wells to Bella Romero, but also the disparity in how a similar proposed site was handled a few years earlier at Frontier Academy Elementary School, 2560 W. 29th St.
Plans were scrapped for the site near Frontier, and Bella Romero was an alternative site, according to a lawsuit filed by Weld Air and Water, the Sierra Club, the NAACP Colorado State Conference and Wall of Women.
At the time, Bella Romero was comprised of 82.2 percent Latino students, while Frontier Academy Elementary School was 73.6 percent white, bringing about arguments of environmental racism.
Bella Romero also features a much greater percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price lunches, a typical barometer for poverty in education.
In the segment, The Daily Show’s Lydic coyly tries to figure out why Extraction Oil and Gas chose one site over the other, before settling on an answer.
“This story isn’t about my inevitable Pulitzer, it’s about a town where fracking has run amok, a town that desperately needs a flyover journalist with the courage to say what residents have already been saying — but louder, and on camera,” Lydic says, while video shows her planting a sign near the Bella Romero playground that reads “Proudly sponsored by environmental racism and the energy industry.”
Lydic says right after The Daily Show filmed the story, the company stopped drilling. The show uses a Greeley Tribune headline “Extraction doesn’t plan to drill behind Bella Romero Academy during school year,” in a graphic explaining the stoppage.
The Daily Show segment is the latest bit of national attention for the controversial project, which has also been featured in stories from The New York Times, Mother Jones and more.
Throughout, Greeley-Evans School District 6 officially opposed the site that Weld County commissioners approved, and the district instituted an “enhanced evacuation plan” for students grades in the grades 4-8 school.
To view the entire clip, click here.
Because of the late airing, The Tribune was not immediately able to reach the following people for comment on the show:
Brian Cain, spokesman for Extraction Oil and Gas; Greeley Mayor John Gates; Theresa Myers, spokeswoman for District 6; and Weld County Commissioner Chairwoman Barbara Kirkmeyer.
— Tyler Silvy is a content manager for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.
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