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Both Sides Pack Greeley City Council Meeting Over Fracking

By Tom Mustin

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) - To frack or not to frack? That was the question in Greeley Tuesday night at a city council meeting.

"Why do we need wells in the middle of residences and commercial areas?" asked Greeley resident Christie Malnati.

greeley fracking - Tom Mustin for P6ROMO
The packed meeting Tuesday night in Greeley (credit: CBS)

Twenty-two oil and gas drills are being pushed in a residential neighborhood in Greeley near several schools and homes. Resident Lowell Lewis showed CBS4's Tom Mustin where the drills would be built behind his house. He says traffic, noise, lowered home values and environmental issues are the big concerns.

"We are not opposed to oil and gas drilling. We know how important it is. We really think it's an important part of our national energy policy. All of those things are not contentious for us," Lewis said.

greeley fracking - Tom Mustin for PROMO
(credit: CBS)

"Just not in your backyard?" asked Mustin.

"Yes," Lewis replied.

Fracking is an important source of income for many people in Weld County. Earlier this year the planning commission shot down the proposal after public outcry. Tuesday night Denver-based Extraction Oil and Gas tried to push their plan again before a packed house of people on both sides.

greeley fracking - Tom Mustin f5or PROMO
(credit: CBS)

Oil representative Michael McAuley says until a better energy source comes along, oil and gas are still Weld County's life blood.

"Until we're totally non-dependent on foreign oil, we need to continue all those avenues," McAuley said.

With the price of oil plunging to $35 a barrel, is fracking even a relevant issue? Oil representative Luke Kunze says oil prices always fluctuate. He says the oil and gas industry has never been more important.

greeley fracking - Tom Mustin for P7ROMO
(credit: CBS)

"I think the number of people who have shown up here shows just how important this industry is to Weld County," Kunze said.

As the sun set over the proposed drilling site, residents on both sides waited for resolution knowing that change may be inevitable.

"This bucolic setting will no longer exist," said Malnati.

Tuesday's Greeley City Council meeting was still going on late into the night. If the drilling proposal passes, construction is set to begin in July.

Tom Mustin is CBS4's Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

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