Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Parents Didn’t Want Fracking Near Their School. So the Oil Company Chose a Poorer School, Instead.

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Income inequality hurts people badly, as does racism: “The first school was 77-percent white. The second is 87-percent students of color.” Megan Jula reports in Mother Jones:

In one of the most fracked counties in the country, a fight is underway between environmental justice advocates and the Colorado commission that oversees oil and gas development. Four environmental and civil rights groups are suing the commission for allowing a company to build 24 oil and gas wells by a public school in a low-income area—after the same company tossed its original plans to build near a charter school serving mostly white, middle-class families.

Back in 2013, the company Mineral Resources was granted a permit to drill a few hundred feet from Frontier Academy, a majority white charter school in Greeley, Colorado. But after parents and neighborhood residents strongly resisted, the project was delayed. The following year, the Denver-based energy company Extraction Oil and Gas acquired Mineral Resources and abandoned the plans to frack near Frontier Academy. The site, Extraction explained in an internal analysis, was “not preferable” for oil and gas development because of its proximity to the school and its playground.

Instead, Extraction began scouting other locations in Greeley, a small city about 50 miles northeast of Denver. In May 2016, Extraction Oil and Gas filed a new application. This time, Extraction selected a site even closer to another school: Bella Romero Academy. The student population at Bella Romero is more than 87 percent Latino or Hispanic, African American, or other people of color. More than 90 percent of students at Bella Romero qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. (At Frontier, 77 percent of students are white, and about 20 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.)

“When they were looking for another site away from Frontier, where does it wind up? In the Hispanic community, by the Hispanic school,” says Eric Huber, an attorney with the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program, one of the groups behind the lawsuit. “We think that decision was made, unfortunately, because that particular community doesn’t have the resources to fight it.”

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is the process of creating small cracks in underground rock formations using sand, water, and chemicals pumped at high pressure. The resulting fractures allow oil or natural gas to flow into a well. Fracking is a fiercely debated issue, with proponents claiming it is a valuable method for extracting resources needed for energy production, and opponents raising environmental and health concerns. More than 17 million American now live within one mile of oil and gas wells. Weld County, where Greeley sits, is one of the most fracked counties in the US, with more than 23,000 active oil and gas wells.

Despite community opposition to the project voiced in public meetings and written comments, in March 2017 the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) granted Extraction a permit for the site near Bella Romero’s fourth- through eighth-grade campus.

Shortly after, the Sierra Club, the Colorado NAACP, and environmental groups Weld Air and Water and Wall of Women filed a lawsuit against the COGCC. The suit claims the commission’s approval of the site was unlawful; the commission did not adequately address concerns about health impacts that had been raised in public comments, and failed to ensure the site was far enough away from inhabited buildings, the suit alleges. (COGCC regulations require oil and gas production facilities to be “as far as possible” from homes, schools, and other occupied buildings.)

“We have one of the largest developments proposed in Colorado within 1,000 feet of fields where middle school children play,” says Tim Estep, a clinical fellow with the University of Denver’s Environmental Law Clinic and a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “It’s not that our clients are opposed to oil and gas everywhere. In this case, it’s being done so wrong, and to a community that has already been marginalized in so many ways.” While there is no legal claim of environmental injustice, “that’s really the underlying problem in this particular case,” Estep explains.

The site meets state regulations, which mandate that fracking operations be at least 500 feet away from homes and 1,000 feet away from schools. But not by much: The 24 wells will be built only 509 feet away from a home and 1,360 feet from Bella Romero. And, according to the lawsuit, Bella Romero’s playground and athletic fields sit in between the school and the proposed wells, meaning students will be playing less than 1,000 feet away from oil and gas facilities. (Extraction contended that the site is 1,250 feet from the nearest playground.)  . . .

Continue reading.

This seems to me very corrupt and third-worldish, but that’s the direction the US has been going for a while now.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2018 at 9:34 am

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