Proposed Oil Rigs in Greeley, Colorado

Written at SFSU in 2017.

An oil drilling site has been proposed next to the Bella Romero Academy, a public middle school that is located in Greeley, Colorado [1]. The energy injustice at this site arose because the Colorado Oil & Gas Company has proposed to build the oil rigs only 1,300 ft away from a Latino predominate school [2].

Welcome_to_Greeley,_Colorado-3.jpg
Welcome to Greeley, Colorado sign (Bbean32, 2014).

The Colorado Oil & Gas Company has proposed to build the oil rigs only 1,300 ft away from this school [3]. The minimum requirements for an oil rig to be built is that it must be at least 500 ft away from homes and 1,000 ft away from school [4]. The proposed site location barely meets minimum standards. Bella Romero’s playground and field are closer than 1,000 ft to the proposed oil rigs, however only the school buildings have to be 1,000 ft away from the oil rigs. Greeley, Colorado’s population is about 89% Latino [5].

Benefits

Benefits of this project would economically benefit Greeley, Colorado by creating jobs and providing more of an income for the local working class. The workers who live close to the oil rigs would have their children attend the Bella Romero Academy for middle school.

Costs

The Colorado Oil & Gas Company doesn’t want the public to know there are major health risks. These children mainly come from low income Latino families which often translates into a lack of access to proper healthcare [6]. Living next to an oil rig leads to higher rates of cancer and lung diseases such as asthma [7]. Since it will be built next to a middle school the children will have the highest risk of being affected. Their bodies are still developing which makes them more prone to getting sick [8]Greeley has a lack of representation on this matter because they are not able to vote whether or not they want this oil rig project constructed [9].

oklahoma-sunset-oil-rig-1.jpg
What Greeley, Colorado will look like if the oil rigs are built (Oklahoma Sunset Oil Rig).

Environmental Injustice

The latino community in Greeley, Colorado is being faced with environmental racism, meaning the site was picked due to their race. The Colorado Oil & Gas Company could have proposed the construction of oil rigs anywhere, however they picked a low income community of color that lacks representation in their local government. Greeley, Colorado is a community that is 77% white, 17% Latino, and 15% of its community members are low-income [10]. Bella Romero Academy student demographics are 89% latino, 3% African American, and 92% of its students are from low income households [11]. As you can see most of low income families’ children attend Bella Romero Academy. This is unfair that a low income neighborhood is being burdened with harmful oil rigs.

The proposed oil rig property lies right outside of Greeley however Bella Romero Academy is located in Greeley, Colorado [12]. Since the proposed site is technically not in Greeley, Weld County officials get to decide whether this site is approved or not [13]. The Greeley, Colorado residents did not get to vote on this matter. The Weld County Officials have approved the project and the oil rigs will be built [14]. The area where Bella Romero Academy is located is a low income neighborhood and the Colorado Oil & Gas Company is taking advantage of their lack of power that is associated with their lack of income. This is environmentally unjust since the Colorado Oil & Gas Company are only building their oil rigs next to low income latino community [15].

References

[1] Huber, E., Hsiung, S. (2016) Environmental Injustice in the Making Near Colorado Middle School. Retrieved from http://www.sierraclub.org/planet/2016/07/environmental-injustice-making-near-colorado-middle-school.

[2] Jalbert, K., Ferrar, K. (2016). Drilling Bella Romero: Children at Risk in Greeley, Colorado. Retrieved from https://www.fractracker.org/2016/06/bella-romero-children-risk-greeley-co/.

[3] Jalbert & Ferrar (2016).

[4] Jalbert & Ferrar (2016).

[5] Jalbert & Ferrar (2016).

[6] Huber & Hsiung (2016).

[7] Huber & Hsiung (2016).

[8] Sweeney, C. (2016). Greeley oil company asks permission to build a well site near Bella Romero Academy. Retrieved from http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/local/greeley-oil-company-asks-permission-to-build-a-well-site-near-bella-romero-academy/.

[9] Huber & Hsiung (2016).

[10] Huber & Hsiung (2016).

[11] Huber & Hsiung (2016).

[12] Sweeney (2011).

[13] Sweeney (2011).

[14] Sweeney (2011).

[15] Jalbert & Ferrar (2016).

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