Is 2,500 the Magic Number To Protect Public Health?

This November, Colorado voters will decide on a statewide ballot measure that would increase setbacks—the minimum distance new oil and gas wells must be from homes, schools, and waterways. 

The push to increase setbacks stems from concerns about air and water pollution among the growing number of people who live near oil and gas wells as drilling has expanded into more urban and residential areas, especially along the Front Range. 

Colorado is a top-10 producer of both oil and natural gas nationally and has seen an increase in development in the last decade, which has contributed billions to the state economy and created thousands of jobs. Oil and gas drilling used to be located primarily in rural areas, but new drilling technologies and Colorado’s population boom have brought the industry into close contact with suburbia and its residents. 

As a result, residents and some local governments have tried to enact tighter regulations related to drilling. The oil and gas industry has successfully fought those attempts. Local ordinances have been overturned in court, and a previous citizen’s initiative did not qualify for the ballot. Proposition 112 is the latest attempt to push drilling farther away from residential areas.

This story includes what the initiative proposes, viewpoints from both sides, health concerns reported to the state, and the Colorado Health Institute’s assessment of the evidence.

Read the full story here.



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