BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - A Colorado congressman who has been a longtime critic of hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry is temporarily withdrawing his lawsuit seeking to prevent a drilling company from using the procedure on land near his property, which he said could ruin his quality of life.
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, said Friday his attorney took that action to allow his legal team to gather more evidence in support of his case.
The complaint filed in Denver District Court by Mountain Property Improvement LLC names Denver-based Sundance Energy Inc. and Polis' neighboring property owner as defendants. The company declined comment and the property owner could not be located.
Polis said he was shocked to see a fracking operation start up last week on land just across the street from a rural getaway he owns in Weld County near Berthoud.
"I'm going public and talking about it because it's happening to a lot of other people in Colorado. This can happen to anybody. It can happen to you. It can happen to your neighbor. It can happen to your congressman," the Boulder Daily Camera reported Friday (http://tinyurl.com/nw2vcko).
Polis said he has fought for sensible fracking laws for years, using the Clean Air Act, "but now it is personal, like it has already been for so many of my constituents."
Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is a widely used but controversial method of oil and gas extraction that involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into shale formations. Critics say it harms the environment and public health, while supporters say it is safe.
According to the complaint filed in Denver District Court, trucks and equipment appeared around July 18 on the land directly across from Polis' property, which he described as a "small farm" of about 50 acres east of Berthoud in north-central Colorado.
Within days, a drilling rig was standing on his neighbor's property, estimated to be no more than 50 feet from Polis' driveway.
Residents soon began complaining about a strong, noxious odor.
The congressman said he bought the Weld County property about 12 years ago, and he said it now serves as a getaway from Washington, D.C.
Polis, who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, acknowledged he was in a far different position than most people who might find themselves in a similar situation.
"We have neighbors who have their whole life savings invested up there. They are retired and have no alternative but to leave or sell their property. What are they going to do?" he asked.