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Population Size, Growth, and Environmental Justice Near Oil and Gas Wells in Colorado
- McKenzie, Lisa M., Allshouse, William B., Burke, Troy, Blair, Benjamin
D., Adgate, John L.
- Environmental Science & Technology 2016 v.50 no.21 pp. 11471-11480
- basins, issues and policy, land use, market value, oil fields, oils, population size, risk, social justice, wells, Colorado
- We evaluated population size and factors influencing environmental justice near oil and gas (O&G) wells. We mapped nearest O&G well to residential properties to evaluate population size, temporal relationships between housing and O&G development, and 2012 housing market value distributions in three major Colorado O&G basins. We reviewed land use, building, real estate, and state O&G regulations to evaluate distributive and participatory justice. We found that by 2012 at least 378,000 Coloradans lived within 1 mile of an active O&G well, and this population was growing at a faster rate than the overall population. In the Denver Julesburg and San Juan basins, which experienced substantial O&G development prior to 2000, we observed a larger proportion of lower value homes within 500 feet of an O&G well and that most O&G wells predated houses. In the Piceance Basin, which had not experienced substantial prior O&G development, we observed a larger proportion of high value homes within 500 feet of an O&G well and that most houses predated O&G wells. We observed economic, rural, participatory, and/or distributive injustices that could contribute to health risk vulnerabilities in populations near O&G wells. We encourage policy makers to consider measures to reduce these injustices.