Public Spaces are Important to our Wellbeing and for the Fight Against Climate Change

In response to Ciella Sfirri’s Jan. 29th article, I agree with the statement by the Physicians for Social Responsibility that public health impacts need to be considered when thinking about oil and gas development.

Another reason compelling me to support the Biden administration’s pause on oil and gas leasing on public lands is that we need public lands more than ever for recreation and relief from the pressures of our daily lives. Resetting our mental health through nature is one way many of us have coped with the pandemic. 

Unfortunately, Colorado’s Front Range has some of the worst air pollution in the nation, partially due to emissions from drilling, mining, and fracking, which have been linked to illnesses ranging from asthma to cancer.  Biden’s Executive Order will improve our air and water quality, and reduce pollution-linked illnesses.

Protecting our public spaces is important to our immediate wellbeing, but long-term, stopping oil and gas drilling is a bold and urgent effort in our fight against climate change. Conserving public lands allows us the chance to slowly reset a fossil fuel legacy that has left millions with life-long health issues and has expedited the climate crisis.

We, in Colorado, are fortunate to have a wealth of public lands to enjoy, and keeping these lands open for the benefit of present and future residents of Colorado is of unparalleled importance. For these reasons and many others, I support this pause on oil and gas leasing on federal public lands.

– Madeline Smith, Student at Colorado State University