Youth environmental group asks state to suspend fracking
Contending that hydraulic fracturing is threatening Colorado’s next generations, a group of eight youths is asking state regulators to suspend the allowance of its use in oil and gas development.
Members of the Boulder-based group Earth Guardians, a project of the Colorado nonprofit Global Alliance of Youth and Adults in Action, made the request in a petition filed with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Department of Natural Resources last month.
It asks for suspension of permits allowing hydraulic fracturing “until it can be done without adversely impacting human health and safety and without impairing Colorado’s atmospheric resource and climate system, water, soil, wildlife, (and) other biological resources.”
Citing concerns about the role of methane releases in global warming, it also calls for the commission to adopt a climate recovery plan and publish annual reports on statewide greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry.
“The petitioners request the promulgation of the regulation herein proposed in order to protect their interest in a livable future, and an inhabitable Colorado,” their petition says.
Those filing it include Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 13; Itzcuauhtli Rosky-Martinez, 9; Charlotte Buren-Hanley, 10; Sonora Binkley, 9; Aerielle Deering, 15; Trinity Carter, 11; and Jamirah DuHamel and Emma Bray, whose ages weren’t included in the filing but also are identified as youth. All are from Boulder, Lafayette or Englewood.
The commission’s rules allow for citizen petitions for rulemaking, but Mike King, Department of Natural Resources director and a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation commissioner, said at Monday’s meeting that this is his first encounter with such a petition within the agency. He said such petitions aren’t uncommon for other commissions on which he serves.
Commission director Matt Lepore told members that the agency has “great discretion” in decisions about taking up matters for rulemaking. He suggested, and the commission agreed, to consider in January if it wants to proceed with such a rulemaking, and to accept public comment on the proposal at that time.
In their comments Monday, neither King nor Lepore made mention of the age of the petitioners.
The petition, which is heavily footnoted and cites health studies from places including Garfield County, was prepared in partnership with Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon conservation group that engages in legal actions.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, youth director of Earth Guardians, couldn’t be reached for comment but has said in a past video posted to YouTube that for the earth, hydraulic fracturing is “a lethal injection.”
“Our generation will be most affected by climate change and our environmental crisis, and we believe that hydraulic fracking and natural gas drilling is one of the biggest threats to our future right now,” he said.
The group’s action comes as some Colorado communities are banning fracking and facing legal challenges for doing so.