Families Fight Fracking in Erie, Colorado
Yesterday, a small town in Colorado was the scene for an uprising of sorts of families against fracking. Erie Rising, a group started by four mothers concerned about fracking in their community, organized a rally and a march to call on Encana Oil and Gas to halt its fracking operations near the community’s elementary schools.They're also calling on Colorado's Governor, John Hickenlooper, to block the drilling operations--sign their petition to him here.
Children, teenagers, parents and grandparents were in attendance at the rally in Erie, a small town about 45 minutes north of Denver. The event kicked off with live music and face painting, and featured many speakers, including the mothers from Erie Rising and representatives from Water Defense, Food and Water Watch, The Mothers Project, and the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The children of the four mothers who founded Erie Rising were all in the same class, Angie Nordstrum, one of the four, explained to me. The mothers came together once they learned just how close the eight well pads would be to two local elementary schools—especially to Red Hawk Elementary School, a brand new, LEED-certified building that has environmental responsibility in its vision statement. The entire neighborhood has already been impacted, as Encana’s trucks drive right through it, past the school, to their site—where they’re working around the clock. Angie lives about a half of a mile away from the eight well pads, but she can hear Encana working at night from her home.
After the rally, an estimated 200 people marched a mile, mostly through neighborhoods, to the site where Encana is setting up to drill near the schools. We stopped at the edge of the neighborhood just past Red Hawk Elementary School, where Encana’s private property began. With the Colorado Rockies in the background, the marchers joined hands to form a circle around the road's median and listened as one of the mothers from Erie Rising read their letter to Encana aloud. Here’s an excerpt:
“Our wish is that our children attend schools where they are not at risk of toxic chemical exposure, subterranean radioactive substances and toxic metals. Our wish is that our children get to harvest tomatoes and lettuce from their organic school garden; fresh produce that has not been contaminated by chemical laden air particles. Our wish is for our children play tetherball on the playground without having difficulty breathing. Our wish is that our children will not suffer from fracking chemical related nosebleeds. Our wish is that our children will grow up cancer free."
I had never been to a rally that had so many families in attendance, or on a march that had so many young children leading us in the chants. Angie had emphasized how important she thought it was that the children be involved in this fight in their neighborhood, and I couldn’t agree more—I look forward working in the future alongside the power shifters of this next generation, like the five year old girl who ran up and down the line of marchers shouting “No fracking!” She was fierce.
Moving forward, the group is going to be working with the Sierra Club to expand their efforts. Follow @ErieRising to stay updated!
For more photos of the rally, click through Erie Rising’s Flickr.