The Boom from Above: Visualizing The Rapid Pace of Drilling in Colorado’s Communities
Colorado is in the midst of a fast-paced oil and natural gas boom that has secured the state a spot as one of the top ten oil and gas producers in the nation.
The boom has also brought drilling and its impacts into Colorado’s communities, but it can be hard to grasp its full extent and how quickly it has spread to the state’s populated areas.
Using publicly-available data from the state of Colorado, we mapped the oil and gas wells drilled in Colorado between 1990 and 2013. The maps show a sea of red moving across the state and into Colorado’s communities.
Oil and Gas Wells Drilled on the Front Range: 1990-2013
This map shows the 14,887 oil and gas wells that have been drilled around Greeley, Colorado.
Oil and Gas Wells Drilled on the West Slope: 1990-2013
This map shows the 10,772 oil and gas wells that have been drilled around Rifle, Colorado.
Oil and Gas Wells Drilled in Southwest Colorado: 1990-2013
This map shows the 2,023 oil and gas wells that have been drilled around Durango, Colorado.
Over the course of the last twenty-four years, nearly 28,000 new wells have been drilled around Greeley, Rifle, and Durango, Colorado.
Those living inside the oil patch – a number that grows every day – deal with the myriad of side effects of drilling. From chemical spills to water contamination, from air pollution to mounting concerns over the human health impacts of industrial activities, Coloradans have ample reasons to worry about their new next-door neighbor.
And while there’s little doubt that the oil and gas boom has provided benefits to Colorado’s economy, it should not happen at the expense of healthy communities and our prized lands.
That’s why, more than ever, we need strong leadership and smart policies to give Coloradans a say in how and where drilling happens. Our policymakers must ensure that we’re not risking Colorado’s quality of life in the name of short-term economic gains.