work of this task force will provide an alternative to ballot
initiatives that, if successful, would have regulated the oil and gas
industry through the rigidity of Constitutional amendments and posed a
significant threat to Colorado’s economy,” Hickenlooper said in the Aug.
4 press release. “This approach will put the matter in the hands of a
balanced group of thoughtful community leaders, business representatives
and citizens who can advise the legislature and the executive branch on
the best path forward.”
ask me, ‘Who’s gonna pick ’em?’ I am. … The buck stops here and I
guarantee you we’re going to have everybody pissed off again,”
Hickenlooper said at an Aug. 8 roundtable on fracking with South Metro
Denver Chamber of Commerce in Centennial, according to Colorado
Community Media. “The one criteria is that everyone who is going to be
on that list is someone who believes we can get to a yes [on a
other words, not one person opposed to oil and gas drilling or fracking
in their communities will be on the taskforce. Barring some surprises,
it is a taskforce built to reaffirm the status quo.
Let’s start with the industry representatives on the panel.
• Task force co-chair Randy Cleveland is a former ExxonMobil executive who is now president of XTO Energy, Inc.
the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Meeting and Business Summit in
August, Cleveland called New York and Pennsylvania’s controversial
Marcellus Shale a treasure “with generational implications for decades
“Shale gas is transforming the global energy landscape,” he said.
has not made any contributions to Colorado races. He’s joined by five
additional representatives from the industry, many of whom have a
different story when it comes to their campaign contributions.
• Peter Dea,
president and CEO of Cirque Resources LP, once raised a glass with a
cocktail of Halliburton’s “CleanStim” fracking fluid to “one of the
greatest technology advancements of all times, and that’s the
combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing combined
with the noble cause that all of you pursue each and every day to bring
energy independence, security and real jobs to America while providing
an unprecedented high quality of life for all Americans, so please join
me in a toast to the freedom that all of you in hydraulic fracturing
bring to America.”
addition to being head of his own company, Dea is on the board of
Encana. Cirque Resources, a private oil and gas company, focuses on
“unconventional resource plays, primarily in the Rocky Mountain region,”
according to the Independent Petroleum Association of the Mountain
States, and has leased more than 600,000 acres in “emerging exploration
stirs the imagination of thought leaders across the political spectrum
with compelling reasons to see natural gas as national treasure, capable
of helping our nation meet its most pressing economic, environmental
and energy security priorities,” said Marc W. Smith, executive director
of Independent Petroleum Association of the Mountain States, in a news
also a member of the Democratic pro-business organization Colorado
Forum, which supports a “balanced energy policy” that includes
continuing to pursue drilling and production opportunities in oil and
gas, while safeguarding the environment and communities, and says that
the rules and regulations developed to date will “allow the industry to
move forward in a safe and economically viable way.”
is a big time financial supporter of the Democratic Party and maxed out
his donations to Hickenlooper for Colorado for 2010 and 2012.
Also representing industry stakeholders are Brad Holly, vice president
of operations for the Rocky Mountain Region for Anadarko.
has invested in wells, processing plants and ownership stakes in
pipelines in the Denver-Julesberg Basin of northeast Colorado and
portions of Wyoming and Nebraska. Holly told the Denver Business Journal
in 2013 that Anadarko had plans to invest about $1.7 billion in the
basin, which gets almost half of the company’s capital investments and
delivers almost half of its production. He also said that voters in a
handful of cities in the area that were voting to delay or ban fracking
were “a big area of concern for us.”
The company still has more than 4,000 wells to drill in the Denver-Julesburg, at a pace of 300 a year.
“We’re still in the first quarter of the game,” Holly told the Denver Business Journal.
• Dan Kelly, vice president of the Wattenberg Business Unit for Noble Energy told The Denver Post
that Noble plans to spend $10 billion in the Denver-Julesburg Basin in
the coming years, expecting decades of activity. Noble has identified
9,500 locations where it wants to drill, according to the Denver Business Journal
report on comments made during the Platts Rockies Oil and Gas
Conference in Denver in 2013. By 2016 or 2017, Kelly said at the
conference, Noble hopes to be drilling 500 wells a year.
Niobrara is really beginning to show and compare with some of the top
resource plays in the nation and we’re excited to have a premier
position in the play,” he said at the conference.
and Noble have plans that would see them drilling for almost two
decades. To protect those plans, Anadarko and Noble together launched
Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), a bi-partisan
group with an “outreach mission of building awareness regarding the
importance of fracking and its continued role in responsible oil and
natural gas development in Colorado.” CRED pays for the advertising
supplement labeled as the energy and environment section in The Denver Post and for many of the pro-fracking commercials that now constantly inundate our living rooms.
• Also on the task force is Scot Woodall,
president and CEO of Bill Barrett Corporation, a Denver-based oil and
gas company. Bill Barrett Corp. is also heartily committed to developing
northeastern Colorado’s mineral resources. The Denver Business Journal
reported on Sept. 16 that Woodall’s company sold $757 million in assets
in the Piceance Basin in western Colorado and the Powder River Basin in
Wyoming for a land-swap that “boosted the company’s position” in the
Denver-Julesburg Basin. The result will be that 70 percent of the
company’s production will comes from the Denver-Julesburg Basin and
Utah’s Uinta Basin, which has been reported to leak as much as 10
percent of the field’s total gas production. Colorado is, as one board
member put it, their “core position.”
• Perry Pearce,
manager of government affairs for the Rocky Mountain Region for
ConocoPhillips, was also named to the task force. Pearce, Holly and
Woodall have all donated to Colorado Concern, and Pearce is a member of
that organization. Colorado Concern’s top five issues are focused on job
growth strategies, protecting tax credits and sales tax exemptions,
addressing issues in current construction that limits “for sale”
multi-family building, ensuring regulation and enforcement of Amendment
64, and transparency and fiscal solvency in the Public Employees’
Retirment Association. Eighty-two percent of Colorado Concern members do
not support local government’s efforts to add additional regulations to
for taskforce appointees who would appear to be less enthusiastic about
oil and gas production than the industry insiders, it appears that the
willingness to compromise is their main area in common.
• Take Sara Barwinski,
a member of Weld Air and Water, a community group in the county with
the most wells in the state that was organized around opposition to oil
and gas development. She testified at a Greeley planning commission
meeting that the proposal to add more wells at a site near a residential
neighborhood, within 500 feet from her own home, in fact, and adjacent
to a high school — putting 32 wells in a half-mile radius — was just too
“This isn’t about being for or against oil and gas,” she told The Independent.
“There’s already drilling going on here. There are six vertical wells
on the site… But there’s also a school, a running track, houses,
apartments. It’s a beautiful area. There’s a wetlands adjacent, a marsh
that’s a bird habitat. There’s a hawk’s nest. I’m just asking for
a long time policy analyst in Missouri with a master’s in social work
who had taught courses on legislative and regulatory processes and
community development, planning and organizing at universities, remains
believe that dialogue can happen, that there are good people in oil and
gas who are trying to make the industry better and that most public
elected officials serve because they believe in the common good,” she
wrote in a Greeley Tribune op-ed. “Both the Colorado Department
of Public Health and the Environment and the Colorado Oil and Gas
Conservation Commission (COGCC) admit that we don’t know what is safe or
not and we need further study about the health impacts of oil and gas
got that dialogue when Weld Air and Water requested that the state
health department and Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission send
in a third party consultant to meet with them and with Synergy, the oil
company proposing the expansion. The Greeley Tribune reported
that everyone walked away happy, having discussed monthly infrared
testing, water sampling and retrofitting existing wells, even getting
industry funds for studies on the health effects of living near drilling
• Rancher and former Fort Lewis College sociology professor, Jim Fitzgerald
is also on the task force. He’s donated to and endorsed the campaign of
Gwen Lachelt, the La Plata County Commissioner who is also co-chair of
the task force.
resident of Bayfield may be one of the appointees most concerned about
the impacts of drilling and fracking. He has a video testimonial on the
website for Earthworks, a nonprofit organization that works to protect
communities and the environment from the negative affects of mineral and
energy development. Earthworks was founded by Lachelt.
the video, he describes nearby residents whose homes had to be
evacuated, a home that blew up from methane, destroyed trees and
vegetation, tap water running at 160 degrees because fracking had pushed
a hot springs into a drinking well.
energy companies still don’t even admit that they cause these problems.
Even though they bought the people out, took the houses down, paid them
everything, got them out as fast as they could, they made agreements
with people where they’re not allowed to say how much money they got for
the destruction they’ve caused, so people don’t really notice what the
drilling has caused just the normal life of people,” Fitzgerald says in
his willingness to believe that oil and gas can be regulated into
acceptability may have been on display in an op-ed published in The Durango Herald
April 3, 2011, bylined to both him and his wife, Terry. The piece
describes how they’d welcomed the overhaul of the Colorado Oil and Gas
Conservation Commission in 2007 so that it came closer to representing
the areas affected by drilling, including public health, the
environment, surface owners and the industry. Fitzgerald was writing to
object to a bill that proposed increasing oil and gas industry
representation on the COGCC from three to five members.
hasn’t been a perfect agency, and we’ve disagreed with some decisions.
But it’s a far cry from the old days, when the public distrust of the
then-biased commission fueled constant conflict,” the Fitzgeralds write.
While the old commission members were reluctant to come to La Plata
County, the new commission invites public participation on new rules.
new rules require the industry to consider threats to human health and
wildlife when applying for a drilling permit. The regulations establish
protection zones around streams in watersheds that provide drinking
water, require companies to tell state and emergency responders what
chemicals they use and allow state health and wildlife officials to
formally consult on oil and gas development applications,” they write.
“These are rules that should have been in place when the drilling boom
hit southwest Colorado in the late 1980s. They represent critical steps
toward identifying threats to our public health from nearby gas
also spoken in favor of reinstating a rule in La Plata County that
would prohibit oil and gas wells in subdivisions with lots smaller than
10 acres. Presumably this means that drilling in subdivisions where lots
have more acres should be allowable.
Fitgerald lives in a 380-acre ranch and has also been outspoken regarding water issues tied to drilling.
Also coming down on the side of environmental regulations in the face
of inevitable oil and gas development is the Western Resource Advocates
and their president, Jon Goldin-Dubois. A statement from Western
Resource Advocates announcing Goldin-Dubois’ appointment to the task
force says, “As oil and gas drilling, including fracking, continues to
expand across the state, the need to address the health and safety
concerns of citizens has also expanded. Work of the Task Force will
include helping local governments and communities find solutions to
outstanding conflicts and greater protections while allowing for
development of oil and natural gas, a key fuel in moving the state away
from coal pollution and toward a cleaner energy future.”
appears that Goldin-Dubois’ has adopted the Democratic Party line on
natural gas, which is that it is a bridge fuel that will stop the use of
• Like Goldin-Dubois, Kent Peppler,
a farmer and president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, comes from
an organization that has made its position on fracking and oil and gas
development clear. The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Policy 2014 states
that “Whereas, we recognize that our national energy needs cannot be met
without fossil fuels, and we support sensible, proven development of
fossil fuels, including natural gas, as part of our energy portfolio for
the immediate future. Fracking will help us reach energy independence.
Rural areas will prosper when the labor needs generate local jobs and
new wages impact the local economy.”
Peppler has called for weaning off fossil fuels and increasing
renewable alternative fuels, mentioning ethanol and fuels made from
biomass, algae and trash in an op-ed published in The Denver Post.
has also discussed leaving some of his corn fields fallow because he
couldn’t afford to irrigate them — oil and gas companies having driven
the price of water too high. In a 2013 story, the Associated Press
reported Peppler saying he used to pay $9 to $100 for an acre-foot of
water, but city water auctions wer seeing prices as high was $1,200 to
$2,900 per acre foot. The City of Greeley sold 1,575 acre-feet of water
in 2012 to companies that supply fracking, making about $4.1 million,
compared to the $396,000 made in sales of 100 times that much water to
it supports fracking as a necessary measure for energy independence,
the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, which represents 22,000 family farmers
and ranchers in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico, has expressed
concern over the water used in oil shale development, saying it is
perhaps the biggest threat to families and communities from oil shale
has given more than $6,000 to Democratic candidates and causes over the
years, and gave the maximum allowed donation to Hickenlooper in 2013.
The other co-chair of the task force is La Plata County Commissioner
Gwen Lachelt, who sounds more ready to compromise than one would expect
from “a fire-breathing, anti-fracking activist” as she has been called
by a right-wing blog.
Earthworks, which she founded, she worked on La Plata’s oil and gas
regulations, built a statewide coalition to pass legislation that offers
new protections for public health, water and air quality, worked on New
Mexico Surface Owner’s Protection Act, saw the Valle Vidal in New
Mexico protected from mineral extraction by legislation signed by
President Bush in 2006, and hosted an oil and gas development tour with
11 Canadian First Nation Chiefs and members of the Northern Cheyenne
Nation and ranchers from Wyoming and Montana.
campaign for county commissioner was endorsed by Jim Fitzgerald and his
wife, Terry. Their endorsement of Lachelt declares, “She is thoughtful,
perceptive, and passionate about justice and fairness. … She is capable
of leading us out of the dark icy polar night in which this county is
platform for county commissioner includes talk about gas wells —
focused on methane seepage, and that 80 percent of greenhouse gas
emissions in La Plata County come from gas wells, facilities and methane
seepage from a coal formation outcrop. She cites a Cornell University
study that cautions that “the emissions caused during drilling, fracking
and through faulty valves and leaking pipelines may be worse for the
climate than coal — and call for rigorous monitoring and oversight by
the responsible government agencies.”
The industry has technology to capture that methane — money in the bank for them, and a win for public health.
is also currently running a campaign to stop drillers in the oil and
gas industry from flaring and venting methane, or simply allowing it to
appears that her activism, like others on the task force, is aimed at
improving regulatory oversight and leak capture rather than preventing
drilling activity in communities.
• Appointee Bruce Rau
falls some where in the middle. The organization for which he is vice
president and chair, the Colorado Association of Home Builders, has
opposed fracking as anti-business. When the Colorado Association of Home
Builders moved to support the governor in giving cities and counties
more control over oil and gas drilling, six of the association’s board
members and its lobbying team quit, saying the measures would impede
development. Those measures would have increased regulations on noise
and setbacks, but not allowed a ban.
also served on the advisory committee for Coloradans for Responsible
Development, which endorses natural gas as a bridge fuel.
next batch of appointees come from the territory of the local and state
government leaders and elected officials selected for the task force.
They fall somewhere in between the centrist views of those activists who
would like to collaborate with industry to craft regulations to offer
their communities some modicum of protection, and the frack-fluid
toasting extremism of industry appointees.
• Current Weld County Clerk and Recorder Steve Moreno has told The Coloradoan he’s a “strong supporter of the oil and gas industry.”
is running for county commissioner, now that he’s been term-limited out
of the Clerk and Recorder’s office. In a candidate Q&A run by The Greeley Tribune
in June, he was asked, “In your opinion, what must be done to ensure
development is safe and does not affect quality of life for Weld
residents?” and replied, “it will be important to partner not only with
the oil and gas industry, but municipalities within Weld to ensure a
high quality of life, especially as the county grows.”
and traffic will continue to be “hot-button” issues, he said, but
reiterated, “I will always be an advocate for the industry, as long as
we have the promise that they will be doing things in a responsible
• Pat Quinn,
former mayor of Broomfield and now task force appointee, was in office
during the election season that saw Broomfield’s ban come from citizens
rather than City Council. While members of the Broomfield City Council
were crafting a new set of oil and gas rules, the voters took up the
issue and narrowly approved a five-year ban on fracking. Council members
had leaned away from pursing a moratorium and toward updating oil and
gas policies and finding ways to increase safety. Quinn told the Daily Camera
that he hoped any new standards would help the city and county foster
relationships with oil and gas operators willing to follow best
practices and meet those high standards.
citizens were campaigning for that ban, the Broomfield City Council
approved 21 new wells in Broomfield County. Quinn then told Fox TV that
they had no grounds not to approve the applications.
concerns of air quality, water quality, you know, the location of the
rigs. In each one of those cases, we have a standard greater than what
Colorado requires. So we couldn’t deny the application,” he said.
• The next Hickenlooper choice, former state Representative and Speaker of the House Russ George,
might be called the man who gave the Roan Plateau away. He was
executive director for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, one
of a string of governor appointments by former governors and now
pro-fracking spokesmen Bill Owens and Bill Ritter that has included the
Colorado Department of Transportation, and served as the chairman of the
Colorado’s Roadless Area Review Task Force. That task force was created
by a bill sponsored by state Sen. Josh Penry (R-Grand Junction) (who
helped author the pro-natural-gas Clean Air, Clean Jobs Bill) and State
Sen. Jim Isgar (D-Hesperus), which was created to help decide how to
manage areas of land designated by Clinton for protections under a
roadless rule that was immediately suspended by the Bush administration,
such as western Colorado’s Roan Plateau.
task force eventually settled on a compromise — most of the 4.4 million
acres would remain protected, with exceptions made for ski areas and
wildfire-prevention projects. When leases were issued while the task
force was still underway, George was asked to push the governor for
interim protections, but said the task force did not have the authority.
“We got it as good as we could,” George told The Denver Post in 2006. “It’s all about balance.”
background gives him experience that may inform what he brings to the
task force. But there are also members who appear to simply have been
deeply ensconced in the Democratic Party.
• Bernie Buescher,
former Colorado Secretary of State, is a time-tested loyal to the
Democratic party in Colorado, having donated thousands to Democratic
campaigns over the years, including Hickenlooper’s campaigns in 2010 and
the current one. He’s also taken donations from Colorado Democratic
Party big spenders Polis and Pat Stryker, who contributed to his
campaigns when he was running for the seat he held in the Colorado State
House of Representatives from 2004 to 2008, and then for Secretary of
State in 2010, a position he had been appointed to by former Governor
Bill Ritter. He lost that race to Scott Gessler.
• The only task force representative speaking up for the interest of public health is Elbra Wedgeworth,
chief government and community relations officer for Denver Health.
Wedgeworth isn’t a doctor of any kind, she’s more a Democratic darling
of the local scene, a former president of the Denver City Council and
credited as instrumental in bringing the Democratic National Convention
to Denver. She served as president/chair of the Denver 2008 Convention
Host Committee. Hickenlooper also served on that committee.
is one of 100 business community members who signed on to support the
governor’s reelection bid as Hickenlooper seeks to use the state’s
economic recovery to fuel his campaign. She’s already maxed out her
donations to Hickenlooper for this campaign cycle.
is also co-chairing the group “Women for Udall,” founded to keep
women’s issues at the forefront of this year’s senate race, with Sen.
Mark Udall’s wife, Maggie Fox, and former state Sen. Paula Sandoval.
Udall is one of the leading proponents of natural gas exports in the
senate and has touted his desire to export Colorado natural gas overseas
as an economic windfall for the state.
• Another appointee is Rebecca Love Kourlis,
a retired justice of the Colorado Supreme Court and executive director
of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. It’s
unclear what she knows about oil and gas, but she is well versed in
water. She served as a water judge, and advocates for more flexibility
in water law as a way to preserve irrigated agriculture in Colorado.
of the challenges is to find a way to integrate the state engineer and
water court into a framework that permits flexibility,” Kourlis said
during a 2013 workshop on agricultural water hosted by Colorado Ag Water
Alliance and the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, according to The Pueblo Chieftain.
Kourlis has also described the challenges of keeping water on farms
when selling to cities (or, and this went unsaid, the oil and gas
industry) may look so appealing.
She has also co-chaired an advisory panel that recommends federal judicial candidates to Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet.
former judge has never given to any political candidate, and her only
political tie seems to be a familial one: Her father is former
Republican Colorado Gov. John A. Love.
lawyers who have consulted with organizations or counties on their oil
and gas regulations were also chosen for the task force.
• Matt Sura
worked with a citizen coalition that included Western Colorado Congress
(of which he was previously the director), Western Slope Conservation
Center, Citizens for Clean Air, Weld Air and Water and Community
Alliance of the Yampa Valley in pushing for the air quality rules
adopted by the Air Quality Control Commission in February.
is a victory for everyone, for the people in the room — the industry
representatives and the environmentalists — but also for the activists
in the communities across the state,” he told The Colorado Independent following
adoption of the new rules. “I think this demonstrates that there’s a
real role for the grassroots in these kinds of proceedings, which affect
response to complaints that any benefits to air quality gained by
reducing the leaks at a well will be offset by the increased number of
wells companies can drill, Sura told The Colorado Independent,
“We’ll look at the implementation plan for the rules and in two years
we’ll be talking about it again. We’ll see how we’ve done.”
with others in this category, the groups that Sura has worked with have
stated goals to try to get stronger regulations on oil and gas, such as
1,000-foot setbacks and more inspections, rather than stopping its
extraction in some instances outright.
• Jeff Robbins,
an attorney with Goldman Robbins and Nicholson, has worked as outside
council on oil and gas issues for Boulder County. He told county
commissioners in June 2013 that Colorado law wouldn’t allow Boulder
County voters to put a ban on oil and gas drilling on the ballot, and
nor could county commissioner’s propose that issue for the ballot. The
commissioners then asked staff to help in crafting a plan to allow for
phased oil and gas development in Boulder County once the moratorium
expired in June of that year. Then, citing a changing regulatory
environment and the need for additional health and safety studies on air
and water quality, while also mentioning the more than 1,100 comments
received just in the previous week, all but a dozen or so of which were
against lifting the moratorium, commissioners voted to extend the
temporary moratorium for 18 months, until Jan. 1, 2015. The proposal for
a phased plan was tabled indefinitely andstaff were instructed to work
on developing an inspection and implementation plan for oil and gas
law firm also represents surface owners in conflicts with oil and gas
companies. His position seems to indicate that preventing drilling is
something that only the state has jurisdiction over, placing him among
those who see drilling as inevitable and citizens should work only to
• Former Boulder Mayor and County Commissioner Will Toor was also appointed to the task force.
In December 2012, Toor wrote to Boulder Weekly
columnist Dave Anderson to share his perspective on the oil and gas
drilling issue (this was amid a series of bumps in the county-wide
doesn’t the county just ban fracking? Under Colorado law, counties have
only the legal authority that has been delegated to them by the state
legislature,” Toor wrote. “Under current state law, Boulder County
simply does not have the legal ability to ban fracking. However much we
may sometimes want to, we can’t simply wish state law away. If we were
to enact a ban, the courts would almost certainly overturn the ban — and
we would then be obligated to process drilling applications under the
existing 20-year-old county oil and gas regulations, with none of the
additional protection that new regulations could provide.”
goes on to say that he supports authority for local governments, signed
the letter to Hickenlooper asking him to drop the lawsuit against
Longmont for its fracking ban, and approached the Colorado Oil and Gas
Conservation Commission to push for statewide rules on setbacks and
water quality that, for local governments, would serve as “a floor, not a
not that the county’s position hinged on a fear of being sued, he said,
as much as the county wanted to be in a position of having a hope of
winning if sued. The county was crafting new regulations to protect air
and water quality, set a maximum distance from other land users, and
take baseline data on air quality before drilling was allowed to advance
over the county.
does no one in Boulder County any good to draft legally indefensible
regulations and hand another legal win to industry over local
government,” he wrote. That statement probably summarizes the view he’ll
bring to the task force.
willingness to compromise, to regulate and continue to use a supposed
“bridge fuel” that even some task force members admit is responsible for
80 percent of the emissions in their county and may be as destructive
to the planet as burning coal runs insidiously high in our government at
Obama has touted domestic gas production as “safe, cheap power” that
can help reduce carbon emissions. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has
“close industry ties” and claims he has “not seen any evidence of
fracking per se contaminating groundwater” and “the issues in terms of
the environmental footprint of hydraulic fracturing are manageable.” His
predecessor, Steven Chu, told the crowd at a conference put on by
America’s Natural Gas Alliance that choosing between natural gas and the
environment is a “false choice,” according to The Columbus Dispatch, adding “This is something you can do in a safe way.”
He attributed the problems with fracking to fixable errors.
of the Interior Sally Jewell, has fracked wells herself. Environmental
Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy has said, “There’s nothing
inherently dangerous in fracking that sound engineering practices can’t
Sept. 16, Americans Against Fracking, a national coalition organized by
Food and Water Watch, released the report “The Urgent Case for a Ban on
Fracking.” It’s a follow-up on a previous report that also called for a
ban on fracking to include 150 additional studies conducted since that
2011 report that add to the case that fracking leads to water and air
pollution, earthquakes and climate change. The report stacks together
studies that show fracking leads to forest fragmentation; competition
over water resources; massive amounts of toxic and radioactive waste;
waste disposal practices that can trigger earthquakes; spills, accidents
and leaks that put waterways at risk; pollutants that compromise air
quality; explosive hazards in homes; increased potential for
contaminants to reach aquifers; climate change; and health issues,
damaged roads and decreased property values fpr communities.
a few highlights: a report by Ceres that found 39 percent of gas wells,
which can require about 5 million gallons of water to drill and frack,
were in regions with high water stress and 9 percent in regions with
extremely high water stress, meaning most, or almost all, of the water
resources were being withdrawn. Industry construction projects increase
sediment in rivers. Water quality is threatened by the use of oil and
gas industry wastes, which often contain salts, to de-ice roads.
Underground blowouts may happen at a much greater frequency than we can
know — because their effects are hidden underground. Sediment near water
treatment plants that accept oil and gas industry wastes was found to
contain radiation 200 times background level. When water utilities
disinfect river water contaminated with oil and gas, the chloride and
bromide used can have chemical reactions with fracking wastewater that
form byproducts linked to cancer and birth defects. A significant
fraction of spills in Colorado have contaminated shallow aquifers.
no way to effectively and safely regulate this dangerous practice,”
says Sam Schabacker, with Food and Water Watch. “It’s too dangerous and
the impacts are so egregious that we believe the only advisable,
practical and reasonable thing to do is to call for a ban on fracking.
… We don’t believe fracking has any place in our energy future.”
governor’s task force doesn’t represent that view, though many
Coloradans have expressed the view that fracking is unsafe and local
communities should have an ability to control it.
a huge voice and constituency that’s essentially being disenfranchised
with this process, so I think we should really question the credibility
of this taskforce and whether it’s really representative,” Schabacker
says. “The outcome is a foregone conclusion. There’s not going to be
anyone there fighting for true protections to safeguard our health,
safety and property from fracking. There are only going to be
discussions around how and to what extent fracking should go forward in
The Coloradans in who have been involved in the efforts to regulate fracking can’t be ignored, and won’t just go away.
really believe we’re just beginning to see the power of the
anti-fracking movement,” Schabacker says. “Folks that feel very much
betrayed by the deal that was cut between Congressman Polis and Governor
Hickenlooper that created this task force see right through the task
force and the appointments and realize that their interests are not
represented here, and that they’re going to have to seek recourse in
the end, Coloradans’ right to vote on this critical issue was traded
for nothing. That may not be true. It is more likely that Colorado’s
right to vote on fracking was traded for no better reason than party
politics in exchange for not offending major funders. Stay tuned.