Gasfield Justice

Organizing people to have a fair say on drilling.

Western Colorado has lived with oil and gas development for decades, but new technology lets it happen closer to people and neighborhoods. All across the state, people are feeling the impacts of this industry. Residents may be directly impacted by air pollution, noise and water contamination; the wider community is apt to experience increased traffic, strained infrastructure and social services, and economic upheaval.

WCC’s Gasfield Justice program helps people in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado join together to have a fair say in where and how drilling will occur. Our position is not that oil and gas development should be banned, but rather that it shouldn’t be done everywhere, and it must be done right.

WCC has worked for decades to improve the state rules and laws that govern oil and gas development, and will continue to do so. From engaging in Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rule-makings to working with our elected officials at the legislature, we use every tool in the tool box to protect human and environmental health in the shadow of oil and gas development across the state.

Our Campaigns

The world changed for residents of Battlement Mesa in Garfield County in May 2009. That's when Antero Resources announced its plans to develop natural gas wells within the community's boundaries. People who had been lured by Battlement Mesa's promise of a peaceful retirement community have been forced to educate themselves about fracking fluids, directional drilling and setback rules.

The struggle in Battlement Mesa is representative of the struggle many Colorado communities face when dealing with the oil and gas industry. Residents deserve to have a voice in decisions that threaten the human and environmental health of their communities. Battlement Concerned Citizens is a committee of WCC's local affiliate, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, that is giving residents that voice.

Battlement Mesa from Gayle on Vimeo.

Fram Operating originally announced its plans to drill gas wells on public and private lands in Mesa County's Whitewater area in April 2010. WCC members immediately challenged the Bureau of Land Management to scrutinize the project's potential to negatively impact agricultural and Grand Junction's municipal water supplies.
WCC has succeeded in scaling back the proposal from its original 492 wells on 90,000 acres to just 108 wells, and the BLM is still working through its Environmental Assessment process for the project.
The BLM is considering multiple oil and gas leasing proposals in Delta County’s North Fork Valley, which pose a clear threat to the valley’s expanding organic farms and orchards and to its drinking water supplies. We intend to strongly advocate for the Citizens’ Alternative in the forthcoming draft Resource Management Plan for the region, which would protect these critical areas.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to support our North Fork allies in their response to a proposed lease swap that would transfer the threat of drilling from the Thompson Divide to the upper North Fork watershed. Members of our Public Lands Committee are working to protect the proposed receiving area, which includes the biologically rich Hubbard Park and Stevens Gulch.
WCC has been active in statewide policy-making for decades. In the 2017 state legislature, WCC fully supported HB 1256 which would have closed a glaring loophole in state regulations where schoolchildren are unnecessarily exposed to the impacts of oil and gas drilling and fracking.

What We're Fighting For

  • At least 1,000-foot setbacks from homes and 1,500-foot setbacks from schools
  • Legal standing for neighbors and longer public comment periods
  • High performance standards if drilling is allowed near people
  • Protection of local government power to regulate industry
  • More inspection of wells near people, populated areas or waterways
  • Higher penalties for rule-breakers, especially repeat offenders
  • Comprehensive study of public health impacts
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