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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was conducted as part of the AirWaterGas Sustainability Research Network funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CBET-1240584. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
© 2016 American Chemical Society.