FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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COLORADO RISING SUBMITS ENOUGH SIGNATURES FOR SAFER SETBACKS INITIATIVE TO QUALIFY FOR NOVEMBER BALLOT
DESPITE NUMEROUS HURDLES, SIGNATURES HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED FOR 2,500’ SETBACKS ON FRACKING
DENVER —Colorado Rising submitted over 171,000 signatures for the “Safer Setbacks from Fracking” initiative to the Secretary of State this morning, far more than the threshold required to qualify for the ballot in November. This grassroots effort was led by more than 750 Colorado volunteers from across the state. Their passion and determination for protecting the health and wellbeing of their families overcame theft of petitions and a multi-million dollar opposition campaign that consisted of organized harassment, buyouts, and corruption.
Throughout the course of the campaign, harassers were paid to intimidate petition circulators and discourage voters from signing Initiative #97. The campaign’s original signature-gathering firm quit abruptly with just three weeks remaining before the deadline, refused to pay over 300 employees, and took approximately 15,000 signatures out of state until a lawsuit forced the return of the petitions. Just last week, Colorado Rising learned that the signature-gathering firm Petition Connection was paid off to stop collecting signatures for the initiative. This was confirmed in a recorded conversation with the owner of Petition Connection, Dan Fessler.
Initiative #97 creates 2500’ buffer zones between oil and gas operations and homes and schools, water sources, and playgrounds. The distance of 2500’ – almost one-half mile – aligns with studies that show an increased risk of negative health impacts within this zone. The setback distance also matches the emergency evacuation radius used by first responders when faced with explosions, fires, and toxic leaks. In 2017 alone, there were 15 oil and gas industry fires and explosions in Colorado including the tragic Firestone home explosion that killed two men and severely burned a schoolteacher. More than 1,000 complaints have been filed in Colorado in a single year about contaminated water, inability to sleep or work due to noxious fumes and extremely loud noise, headaches, nosebleeds, asthma, and other grave health impacts.
“This industry robbed me of my peace of mind of when they began construction of a 24 well pad site behind my son’s school,” said Patricia Nelson mother of a student at Bella Romero Academy and volunteer for the campaign. “They have money and power, but we have things that cannot be bought. The love for our children and our community has driven us to succeed. This has been a labor of love. We are ready to be a voice for our children and the future of Colorado.”
“Oil and gas development has exploded over the last seven years in Weld County, and I have witnessed a change in the way people view the issue,” said Therese Gilbert schoolteacher from Greeley. “As more people experience what it is like to have fracking happen so close to where they live – the explosions, weekly spill reports, their children getting asthma, they are now saying ‘enough is enough.’ When the frack wells started going in right behind schools, a line was crossed. The industry cannot be allowed to take risks with our children.”
“We are proud and thankful for this monumental effort by the people of Colorado to create a commonsense setback from this increasingly brazen and destructive industry. We are committed to protecting our neighborhoods from this explosive and toxic industrial development that risks our children’s health and jeopardizes the safety of our homes,” said Colorado Rising President Tricia Olson.
“With nine out of eleven bills killed in our legislature and hundreds of heartbreaking testimonies given to the COGCC with no action, it’s time our citizens are heard with this ballot measure. It is long overdue, and I am pleased with the outpouring of support from so many statewide. The state has failed to protect us, so we’ve taken it into our own hands,” said Heidi Henkel, founder of Broomfield Moms Active Community.