Temporary restraining order denied in Bella Romero case

April 17, 2018

Colorado, oil and gas drilling

Playground at Bella Romero Academy, a middle school just outside Greeley city limits. Just beyond the fence, Extraction Oil & Gas will develop Vetting 15H, a 24-head directional well pad. In addition there will be a battery of wastewater tanks, separators, and vapor recovery units on an adjacent lot. [Source: FrackTracker Alliance]

Public Health Advocates Decry Decision to Allow Fracking to go Forward Next to Bella Romero Academy


Greeley, CO — Local public health and environmental advocacy groups vow to continue to fight a decision allowing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to move forward next to Bella Romero Academy.

The groups — including Weld Air & Water, Sierra Club, NAACP Colorado State Conference, and Wall of Women — had filed for a temporary restraining order halting construction by Extraction Oil and Gas, LLC on 24 new oil and gas wells and associated infrastructure and production facilities just outside the school’s property. That request was denied last week, allowing construction to continue.

Numerous peer-reviewed health studies have established that a minimum of 2,500 feet is necessary to protect public health, and a recent study from the Colorado School of Public Health showed that people living within 500 feet of fracking operations are at an increased risk for cancer and other health problems including neurological and developmental effects. Extraction’s operation would be just 684 feet from the school’s playground and athletic fields, putting the health and safety of local families and the hundreds of children who attend school there at risk.

“There aren’t any words to describe the feelings of disappointment about the government entities that were put into place to protect our communities,” said Bella Romero parent and plaintiff Patricia Nelson. “Time and time again it feels like we are shouting at walls. It is time for these walls to come down. Together, we will continue to shout tear down those walls.”

“The approval of this permit to put 24 wells within 600 feet of a middle school playing field makes it clear the COGCC is willing to jeopardize public health and welfare to promote industry profits. They are not being responsible to the people most directly affected by this drilling. Keeping children safe should be the first priority,” said Therese Gilbert, a teacher and member of Weld Air and Water.

“I was stunned to hear of the denial of our request for a Temporary Restraining Order and I am truly disheartened that the system so clearly overlooks the mounting evidence of health and safety risks to the children and our community,” said Greeley Sierra Club member Dr. Shirley Smithson. “Research on the chemical dangers for people living close to fracking operations, not to mention the dangers of spills, explosions, leaks, and traffic, gives full support to this project being stopped.”

“The fact is the Commission has made a decision that disregards its obligation to protect its citizens and opens itself to the liability inherent to this disregard,” said Carl Erickson, Chair of Weld Air & Water. “The state’s suitability to protect the welfare of its citizens should be questioned in the case of Bella Romero.”

“We are shocked by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s irresponsible decision to allow fracking to occur next to where children learn and play,” said Eric Huber, Sierra Club Managing Attorney. “The harms fracking does to nearby communities are well-documented, and we will not back down until the school and neighborhood are protected from this dirty, dangerous project.”

For more information —

Parents Didn’t Want Fracking Near Their School. So the Oil Company Chose a Poorer School, Instead
The first school was 77-percent white. The second is 87-percent students of color

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