Oil Boom Creates Opportunities, Consternation Along Colorado’s Front Range

Horizontal Drilling Rig in Weld County Colorado - Credit Niobrara News

Horizontal Drilling Rig in Weld County Colorado - Credit Niobrara News

By Kirk Siegler – KUNC 91.5 – National Public Radio

Northeastern Colorado is fast becoming the site of one of the country’s next big oil booms as new technologies surrounding hydraulic fracturing are allowing companies to get a piece of the Niobrara Shale. Previously deemed too expensive to drill, the Niobrara formation that extends from beneath Denver all the way to western Nebraska is thought to hold more than a billion barrels of oil. The only trouble is much of the land atop it is home to one of the country’s fastest growing regions.

Drilling Comes to the Suburbs

To get an idea of just how thirsty we’re getting for oil and gas, a good place to start is the cul de sac where Shane Davis lives in the northern Front Range town of Firestone.

“It’s crazy when you see these derricks that shoot up 150 feet in the air,” Davis says. “They light up like a giant Christmas tree at night time.”

Standing next to his silver Volvo sedan, Davis looks out on a tan-colored well and a pair of storage tanks less than a football field’s length from his and his neighbors’ tract homes built in the 1990s on land that used to be prairie.

A short drive away, Davis points to one well that lies just a dozen or so yards from an empty, but functioning playground. Another is on land surrounding a school, a King Sooper’s Grocery store and even a small hospital.

“The irony, we’ve got residential areas and yet we’ve got 25 signs that say “danger” or “toxic chemicals” or “highly explosive,” Davis says.

Continue reading the full story at NPR  Recommendation: If you have iTunes or the ability to listen to a Podcast click on the podcast link to the right of the print story.

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