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By Jason Schwartz
What would you do if one day you woke up and the water in your well was a brown, viscous mess?
That's what happened to Tachia Sandoval almost 20 years ago. She came from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Las Animas County, Colorado, in the 1990s, getting away from decades in the city to live on the land and get back to her country roots. She found a beautiful piece of land with a modest house that she made into the home of her dreams, a place for her and her many animals to roam, and some space to spend more time making the art and jewelry that give her life balance.
But not a year had passed before the fracking started all around her. Dozens of roads to hundreds of wells went up. The sound of rumbling trucks replaced what had once been silence. And the water went foul. Now, Tachia spends many hours each week hauling water to and from her land.
Colorado has been overrun by the oil and gas industry in the last few decades. It is one of the most fracked states in the country, with tens of thousands of active wells dotting the once pristine landscape, roads to and from them stretching across the land like thin scars. The oil and gas industry eyes it as a growth opportunity, sending tens of millions of out of state dollars into Colorado's political system to buy the legislation it wants.
Just last summer, Greenpeace stood shoulder to shoulder with the grassroots anti-fracking activists of Colorado in trying to get some commonsense rules on the books. One initiative would allow communities like Tachia's to democratically say no to fracking. Another would set fracking wells at a reasonable distance from important town infrastructure, like schools, hospitals and homes.
We met Tachia during last summer's fight and are humbled that she helped us tell her story.
Protecting water from the oil and gas industry is a growing concern.
Just as Indigenous communities have come together to stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens a major water supply, so too are communities coming together to protect their groundwater from fracking. But in states like Colorado, where a weakening industry and its cronies have to buy the political system to remain viable, it can feel like an uphill battle.
What can you do? You can make climate change, renewable energy and the protection of local communities a decisive issue this November. Help elect local, state and national politicians who do not have ties to the oil and gas industry.
And if you live in Colorado, vote against Ballot Question 71, also known as Raise the Bar. The oil and gas industry, along with its friends, has pumped millions into this measure, which would effectively make placing measures on the state ballot nearly impossible, unless you too have millions of dollars to burn. Many news outlets have come out against the ballot, including the paper of record, which isn't known as particularly unfriendly to the oil and gas industry.
Tachia is one of thousands of Coloradans out there campaigning against 71. And we're with them.
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