Teachers & Educators for Prop 112

As educators, one of our primary responsibilities is for the welfare, health and safety of the children who attend our schools. It is not OK for children, teachers, and school staff to be exposed to asthma and cancer-causing chemicals in the air, toxic gas leaks, fires and explosions from industrial drilling and fracking operations that are sited unsafe distances from schools and playgrounds. Currently, oil and gas drilling is allowed as close as 1,000’ from a school building (not the property line) and can therefore be sited right by our playgrounds and sports fields.

Children’s small, developing bodies are particularly vulnerable to toxic chemicals and emissions known to be associated with oil and gas operations. Over 1,300 public health studies have shown increases in childhood leukemia, asthma, endocrine system disruption, birth defects, low birth weights, increased infant mortality and other negative health problems like headaches, bloody noses, nausea, dizziness and difficulty concentrating for those living too close to oil and gas operations.

There have been more than 15 fires and explosions since the deadly Firestone home explosion in April of 2017 that severely burned local teacher Erin Martinez and killed her husband and brother. Her child survived by jumping out of the second floor window. In September 2017, a valve leak forced evacuation of a football game in Greeley. Then in November 2017, Crestone Peak Resources LLC were caught violating safety practices just 25 yards from Aspen Ridge Elementary in Erie. Staff took optical videography of the company venting gases from open tanks, releasing VOCs (volatile organic compounds, such as benzene and formaldehyde) that drifted toward children as they played on the school playground. It’s time for safer setbacks from fracking.

Yes! I support Proposition 112 as a common sense safety measure to protect our children by requiring 2500’ safety zones between fracking operations and schools and playgrounds (as well as homes, occupied buildings, and water sources). Please list me as an endorser.

In addition to endorsing Proposition 112, additional actions you can take:

  1. Share this page with three or more colleagues
  2. Educate your community. 
  3. Invite a Colorado Rising speaker to present to your class or PTA. Get speaker form or email: heidihenkel@gmail.com
  4. Obtain handout material. Email: unite@corising.org
  5. Get a YES on 112 Yard Sign 

#SaferSetbacks from Fracking Protect children from toxic leaks, spills and explosions:

Testimonials from Teachers

& Educators for Prop 112:

Gilbert: When it comes to the children of Greeley, any risk is too great a risk

It’s disheartening to read The Tribune opinion (“Development at oil and gas site near Bella Romero should be allowed to continue“) in support of 24 wells being within 600 feet of the soccer field at Bella Romero Academy.

True, the current setback law says wells must be kept 1,000 feet from the brick-and-mortar school building, and these wells will be 1,300 feet away. However, the director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has said on record that setbacks are arbitrary. If the process of fracking were safe, would we need any further setback than the 500 feet from homes? If fracking is safe, why not incorporate the industrial site as part of the playground equipment? Paint it bright colors and attach some nifty slides?

Contrary to the editors’ assumption, it’s the very fear of the known that has many worried. We know for sure there have been more than 700 peer-reviewed studies confirming negative health effects for those living within a half-mile of active fracking wells since 2011.

We also know for sure the condensate tanks are allowed “legally” to leak gases by current law. We also know fire departments want us to evacuate a half-mile, or 2,500 feet, when they fear a well accident. I learned that at a football game last fall at Northridge High School when an alarm sounded from the multi-well site within 400 feet of the football field. We also know for sure there was an explosion and subsequent fire at an Extraction Oil & Gas well site in Windsor on Dec. 22 that took 10 fire departments more than 15 hours to extinguish and was felt by homes many miles away.

So, what is the purpose of an arbitrary setback of 1,000 feet from a building? Is the school building at risk or the children who are playing outside? These 24 wells will be much closer than 1,000 feet to the soccer field and playground south of the school.

Children have higher respiratory rates than adults and breathe in more pollution per pound of body weight, and their immature immune systems are less able to detoxify and excrete pollutants compared to adults. They also spend more time playing outdoors and are more exposed to air pollution.

As an educator, I believe we must pay attention to the science that tells us to use precaution when placing wells so close to where we live and breathe. I also believe we need to understand the basic economic principles of capitalism: It is the interest of the oil producer to extract the minerals as cheaply as they can and deliver the product to market.

It is in the interest of the public to have regulations and safeguards in place to protect our health and safety. The governing body that approves all oil and gas permits, the COGCC, never has denied a permit but sat on the Bella Romero permit for nine months after the Weld County commissioners approved it.

In court it was revealed that twice the COGC asked Extraction if it could find a better site for drilling farther away.

Money has a blinding influence. It leads people to blindly put their faith in those who may not have their best interests at heart. Sadly, I do not share the opinion we can trust that current laws on setbacks are adequate to keep our children safe. Longer laterals can be drilled, but keeping children safe should be non-negotiable. The students at Bella Romero depend on us to keep them safe, and any risk taken is a risk too dear.

— Therese M. Gilbert is a concerned resident and has lived and taught in Greeley for 25 years. She also is a founding member of Weld Air & Water.

“Our children are precious and vulnerable, and it is absolutely clear after a leak mere feet from an elementary school playground in Erie, that we must protect them. We cannot continue to risk their health and safety, after all the only party who benefits is the oil and gas industry.”

– Patricia Nelson, parent, Bella Romero Academy in Greeley

“Prop 112 matters to me because it matters to my students. They are afraid for their health and the future of their communities, and it is our responsibility to protect them. 112 is one good way of protecting them and of showing them that we aren’t leaving them all the problems to handle on their own.”

– Rachel Balkom, Denver Public Schools, Denver Montessori High School

“I was asked to translate for parents of a school of under-represented children in Greeley – the Bella Romero Academy.  I saw up close the fracking operation just behind the playing fields.  Everything I know cried out about this in-your-face injustice.  I am definitely in support of Proposition 112.”

– Donato Perl, University of Northern Colorado Department of Hispanic Studies

“When oil and gas refuses to listen to school boards, steamrolling right next to schools and forcing them to have active explosion drills, all the while asking them aren’t they thankful for the money they get, it reflects an abusive cycle. Considering the current setbacks are only based on politics, and the explosion radius is at least 2,500 feet, Proposition 112 is a breath of fresh air and finally a voice for our teachers and kids who have been begging for a long time for their health and safety.”

– Heidi Henkel, B.S. Biological Sciences, teaching certificate from Colorado State University

“I STRONGLY support this measure to protect our children’s health. Given the extensive peer-reviewed studies delineating the health impacts of fracking (particularly for young children), I find it astonishing that there is even a debate around the necessity of this law. Are we really willing to prioritize money for the oil and gas industry over our children’s basic right to breathe and live healthily? Please vote YES on 112! If you are unsure about the risks of fracking near children, take the time to read about more than 1,300 public health studies that have been done on this issue (linked in the article above).”

– Emily Kalliio, Bear Creek Elementary School Kindergarten Teacher, Boulder

“As a teacher of 26 years I find it unconscionable that we would risk the health and safety of schoolchildren by placing fracking wells so close to schools.  There is no other industry that would be allowed to place a large industrial complex so close to a school, especially one that involves highly pressurized, toxic, flammable liquids and gases.  Enough is enough.  We need safer setbacks of frack wells from our homes and schools.”

– Therese Gilbert, Teacher Greeley/Evans School District 6

“Even as economic development is important in Colorado, alternative sources of energy are even more important. If we put all our eggs in the fracking basket, we may lose the opportunity to create a cleaner and more sustainable energy package.
That said, this proposition does not ask to eliminate fracking; it is asking for safer setbacks. As we do not know the proprietary chemicals used, we do not know how to guard against negative health influences, nor how to treat health issues. The LEAST we can do is further offset the drilling, for safety sake.
If we cannot figure out how to continue our economic growth without these hazardous chemical processes, it shows a lack of imagination, initiative, and promise for the future. It is our moral imperative to protect our children and our children’s children. Short term ease will never balance out long-term solutions. Please vote YES for Proposition 112.”

– Maggid Charna Rosenholtz, Aleph Ordination Program Rabbinic Student

“Let’s transform our frustration, our fierce feminine protective energy into action. We can’t stay alone and isolated within walls of our homes and just post things on social media in anger. We have to realize that we are not alone or helpless. And we have to pick one local issue and pour all of our energy there. One issue close to my heart in Colorado is proposition 112 which limits dangerous methane emissions and protects health and lives of people we love! We have limited time left to win this campaign. This is a moderate well researched effort to protect lives. As a climate scientist, Zen Buddhist and activist, I ask for your vote YES on 112.”

– Kritee Kanko, Ph.D, Boulder EcoDharma Sangha, Zen Teacher, Boundless in Motion

“As a scientist and educator, I stress to students the value of being informed about issues, especially issues with the potential to influence the long-term health and the well being of communities. In the peer-review journal Environmental Science and Technology, Adgate et al. wrote “The most important occupational stressors include mortality, exposure to hazardous materials and increased risk of industrial accidents. For communities near development and production sites the major stressors are air pollutants, ground and surface water contamination, truck traffic and noise pollution, accidents and malfunctions, and psychosocial stress associated with community change. Despite broad public concern, no comprehensive population-based studies of the public health effects of UNG operations exist. Major uncertainties are the unknown frequency and duration of human exposure, future extent of development, potential emission control and mitigation strategies, and a paucity of baseline data to enable substantive before and after comparisons for affected populations and environmental media.” In the face of uncertainty of the myriad possible long-term negative effects of a relatively short-lived extractive activity, the public should be as a cautious as possible and limit exposure. The proposal to increase the distance between the public and fracking is NOT a strategy to eliminate fracking; it is simply exercising common sense.”

– Andrew Martin, PhD, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado

“Prop 112 is the responsible thing to do for the next generation. Having safer setbacks from oil & gas operations will reduce noise pollution, traffic congestion & create a safe buffer zone if god forbid, something disastrous were to happen at a nearby fracking well pad in close proximity to a school.”

– Derek Seifried, Middle School Teacher, Prairie View Middle School, Brighton

“As an educator, it is vital that my young students be ensured a safe environment in which to learn.  Safety from the hazards and possible fatalities and adverse health impacts of fracking wells should be a basic right of all children and their families.”

– Louise Brooke, Alaya Preschool Early Education Teacher

“Prop 112 means better health for my children and a better future of the great state of Colorado!”

– Burke Hilsabeck, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Colorado

“I support Proposition 112 for the safety of our communities and schools.  I support 112 because I believe the future of Colorado is sustainable energy like solar and wind.  Fracking wastes billions of gallons of water, contaminate water supplies, and has caused catastrophic accidental explosions.  Oil and gas have been given the chance to regulate themselves and haven’t done it.  We need Proposition 112 to protect our communities and environment now.”

– Todd Walsh, ESL Teacher, Slater Elementary, Lakewood

“As a public health educator, I have long been aware of the ways that government policies and regulations can influence (for better or worse) the health of individuals and communities.  Multiple environmental health studies have shown that fracking produces air-borne toxins and contaminates water sources, which are linked to increased risks for birth defects, respiratory complications, and other health problems.  To safeguard the health of our families, Colorado needs to create larger buffer zones between fracking sites and our residences, schools, and parks.  I strongly support Proposition 112’s call for increased setbacks on new wells.”

– Kaye Edwards, PhD Molecular, Cellular Developmental Biology, Associate Professor Haverford College.

“Children need to be healthy to be able to concentrate in school. We need to pass Proposition 112 to protect a child’s right to play outside without exposure to dangerous chemicals in the air from fracking. Oil and gas well pads should be placed as far back as possible from school playgrounds.”

– Joshua Berman, Colorado Teacher

“Say NO to big business, greed, and selfish self-interests. Say YES to the preservation of our environment and health. Winning against the oil and gas fracking industry will be a benchmark for we, Colorado residents. I believe this win will open doors of encouragement for other states to take a stand. If we can do this, so can they.   It’s up to us, the working class heroes, to take the important stands against the destruction of our environment and health by reckless greedy companies. Voting YES on 112 is an absolute necessity.”

– Sage Hamilton, Founder, Sage Educational Programs, Boulder CO

Additional Educator endorsements:

Dr. Candace Gossen, Denver • Wayne Gershberg, Broomfield • John Guffey, Estes Park  • Patrick Kelsall, Denver • Keli Kringel, La Veta • Nguyen Nhu, Broomfield •  Derek Reamon, Boulder  • Derek Seifried, Commerce City • Jessica Rapp, Wheat Ridge


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