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Map Highlights Oil and Gas Pollution Near Colorado Kids

More than 32,000 children in Colorado are estimated to experience asthma attacks as a result of close proximity to oil and gas production. (Pixabay)
More than 32,000 children in Colorado are estimated to experience asthma attacks as a result of close proximity to oil and gas production. (Pixabay)
October 16, 2017

LAFAYETTE, Colo. - Does your child go to school or day care near an active oil or gas well? A new interactive map can help you find out.

The map was created using data from the Department of Education to show not only the location but the total enrollment of day-care centers, primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities within a half-mile of active oil and gas production. Lafayette Mayor Christine Berg said the map is useful for parents concerned about the potential health effects of living close to production facilities, including elevated cancer risks and increased asthma attacks.

"You can actually plug in your address, and you can look and see how many oil and gas wells are nearby," she said. "What it highlights is where kids spend a majority of their day. They may not live near oil and gas, but they may have it near their schools or their day-care or child-care centers."

Lafayette passed a "Climate Bill of Rights and Protections" this year that mentions the need to be free from waste and pollution associated with energy development. The oil and gas industry has said it is working to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants from wells and infrastructure.

More than 50,000 children attend 140 schools in Colorado within a half-mile of oil and gas facilities, and nearly a quarter million residents live within that same threat radius. Alan Septoff, strategic communications director for the group Earthworks, said the new emphasis on fossil-fuel development from Washington, D.C., makes information about potential health threats critically important.

"The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency is trying to roll back safeguards that are intended to reduce the kind of pollution that causes these health impacts," Septoff said.

Berg argued that, even though Colorado has its own laws on the books to limit pollution from oil and gas wells, as production continues to move closer to where people live, federal protections also are necessary.

"As we know, air crosses state boundaries," she said, "so, although we may have the toughest regulations in Colorado, we see methane clouds come in from Utah and other parts of the country."

The Oil and Gas Threat Map 2.0 is online at oilandgasthreatmap.com.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO