B efore their home was built in Rinn Valley Ranch -- a Weld County development where homes sell for more than $400,000 -- Cindy Banfield saw a rig drilling just beyond their 1-acre lot. Her husband, Alan Pinkerton, told her not to worry, that the subdivision developers said all that would be left was a 4-foot-high jungle gym of pipes called a Christmas tree.

That all changed in January, when Encana returned to drill and hydrofracture six wells, and the couple was plunged into six months of round-the-clock noise, lights, truck traffic and odors.

"It was just exhausting," Banfield said. It started with a drilling rig -- a tower more than 100 feet tall studded with lights that burned all night. Then there was the steady truck traffic -- most annoying at night as headlights raked the rooms and cast shadows like a search light.

There was the rotten-eggs smell when the trucks were loaded and an occasional petroleum smell, although both have abated, Pinkerton said. By June, the work was largely done -- but instead of a few Christmas trees, the couple now look out on a set for four large tanks, three separators and two tall combustors.

They still have trucks coming six times a day -- night and day to remove gas from the collection tanks, Pinkerton said. "We thought we were going to live next to a green space, and now it's an industrial site," he said.

"This has hurt our property value," Banfield said. "We've talked about moving, but we can't imagine selling in this economy. So, we'll stay for now."

In February 2011, The Colorado School of Public Health released a draft of Findings and Specific Recommendations saying:

What we know: An increase in traffic is associated with an increase in risk for motor vehicle accidents that can involve cars, pedestrians, and bicycles. These accidents can result in severe injury and death and the risk of severe injuries in motor vehicle accidents increases as the speed of traffic increases. Accidents involving heavy trucks have greater potential for death than those involving smaller vehicles. Increased traffic also increases air pollution and noise levels, and decreases quality of life for those living nearby. We know that Antero anticipates increased truck traffic on residential roads for the duration of the 5 year well development period.

What we know: Noise can have negative effects on public health yet can vary at the individual level. We know that well development activities will last several months for each well pad and that some homes will be proximate to more than one well pad, thus experiencing well development noise for many months. COGCC noise rules do not take into account possible health impacts of noise from extended well development periods. Noise levels associated with well development activities have been measured above levels that are likely to cause health impacts, even though these levels meet COGCC permissible levels. Noise mitigation effectiveness may be in part determined by local topography and meteorology.

What we know: A variety of physical and social factors impact the health of a community. Natural gas development can have positive and negative social and community impacts, mostly during the development period. Battlement Mesa saw increases in crime, sexually transmitted disease and school population and a decline in educational environment during the years of natural gas boom in Garfield County. Drug and alcohol abuse are of concern within the naturalgas industry. Citizen concerns reflect the community’s previous and current experience with the natural gas industry. Citizens report current decline in social cohesion and community experience and some citizens report health impacts due to these changes. The Antero project will impact outdoor amenities. Impacts to the community will in a large part depend upon how well other concerns, such as air quality, traffic and noise, are mitigated.

FAQ from COGCC site: Question 1.b. If COGCC is obligated to protect public health, safety and welfare, why won't they stop oil and gas development that threatens my property values or my quality of life?

Answer 1.b.: The law that created the COGCC and empowers their regulation of the oil and gas industry provides for the COGCC to promulgate rules to protect the health, safety and welfare of the general public in the conduct of oil and gas operations. The law is intended to keep the general public safe when drilling and development occurs, and is not directed at protecting individual property values or a preferred quality of life.


Colorado's suburban homeowners face invasion of oil and gas wells

Draft Battlement Mesa Conducted by Colorado School of Public Health, February 2011


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