Erie Rising to protest Encana drilling

ERIE – The anti-fracking group Erie Rising has organized a protest Saturday that includes a march to wells that Encana will drill near a school.

“This is kind of our last public effort before they stick the drill in the ground, so to speak,” mother and Erie Rising co-founder Jennifer Palazzolo said. “We’re asking Encana to abandon the site.”

A rally will begin 10:30 a.m. at the Erie Community Center with speakers, music and children’s activities. Speakers include Angela Fox, the mother of the “Gasland” director Josh Fox, and other environmentalists.

The group is protesting Encana’s plans to hydraulically fracture eight natural gas wells near Redhawk Elementary School in Erie. Hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground to release gas.

Encana has no active operations planned at the Canyon Creek site Saturday, the company said in a statement.

“Erie Rising has a legal right to protest, just as Encana has the legal right to conduct our operations,” the company said.

The company noted that it has received all the required regulatory approvals to drill at the site.

“It is our hope that Erie Rising and those who join in their protest would seek to maintain a peaceable exercise of their First Amendment right,” the company added. “Our concern is that we maintain a safe and secure working environment.”

Protestors will march to the drilling site and hold hands, Palazzolo said.

“Many members of our community and outlying communities just feel that drilling this close to schools and parks is just inappropriate,” he said.

Saturday’s rally represents the latest move by Erie Rising to curb drilling in the town.

Erie Rising members delivered petitions with 21,000 names to Encana’s Denver office urging the company’s president to halt plans to drill near the school last month.

About 100 signatures came from Erie residents, according to the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Others came from throughout the globe.

“The remarkably low number of local names on the petition proves Erie Rising has lost credibility where it really counts: in the actual town it claims to represent,” Courtney Loper, a Denver-based field director for the association’s educational outfit, said in a commentary published in the Denver Post.

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