Students at a Colorado high school on Monday published a poignant video pleading with local authorities to ban a proposed hydraulic fracturing operation near their campus.
"Especially during a pandemic, if anything were to happen to the outdoors it would be a disaster for my mental health as well as that of my friends."
—Mercer Stauch, Niwot High School
The video, produced by the Niwot High School Environmental Club in Niwot—a small town of 4,100 residents located about 35 miles north of Denver—calls on the Boulder County Commission to ban fracking. The students' school is located just three miles from the proposed Crestone Peak Resources fracking site, which, with 140 wells, would be the largest such facility in Colorado.
"The idea that elected officials would allow for something that is so detrimental to the environment and to our health is mind-blowing," said Niwot High freshman Desta Soma in the video.
The students timed the video's release to coincide with a Tuesday county commission meeting where members will hear public comment on proposed revisions to local regulations governing oil and gas operations.
"We, the youth of Colorado, simply ask our elected officials to do their job, to protect us by using their power and the opportunity presented by S.B. 19-181 to protect Colorado's future," implored Niwot High senior Maya Beauvineau, referring a measure signed into law last year by Gov. Jared Polis that gives local authorities more power to regulate fossil fuel companies' activities.
"Especially during a pandemic, if anything were to happen to the outdoors it would be a disaster for my mental health as well as that of my friends," Mercer Stauch, a junior, said in the video. Another unidentified student added that fracking "affects us mentally, physically, and socially."
Last September, a Boulder County District Court judge dismissed 20 of 34 claims in a lawsuit filed by the commissioners in an effort to halt Crestone—one of the largest oil and natural gas extractors in the Denver-Julesberg Basin—from developing the site.
The largest fracking site in Colorado is proposed to be developed only 3 miles from Niwot High School. These students need your help urging their commissioners to keep Boulder County frack-free by watching and retweeting! https://t.co/tkzwWHwFfq
— 350 Colorado (@350Colorado) December 1, 2020
One of the Niwot students in the video described having to endure "a brown haze layer that is steadily growing." Another said that "some days we feel burning sensations in our lungs."
"We shouldn't be afraid for our health when we step outside our own houses," asserted yet another.