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Colorado adopts tough disclosure rule for fracking

An EPA test well in Pavilion, Wyoming, where the agency found pollutants in groundwater and drinking water wells. The EPA said the chemicals are likely linked with natural gas drilling and related fracking operations.

Environmental groups, industry are generally satisfied with outcome of rule-making process

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new Colorado rule governing the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing — fracking — is garnering praise from industry and conservation groups.

“This rule is an important step forward that will provide Coloradans with information they need to ensure the safety of their drinking water, air and health,” said Earthjustice attorney Mike Freeman. “While the conservation community did not get everything it wanted, Colorado’s disclosure rule provides a good foundation for ensuring that hydraulic fracturing is done safely in this state.”

The announcement by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission comes just a few days after the EPA announced that it had linked fracking with widespread toxic groundwater pollution in Wyoming.

The Colorado requirements are among the most extensive in the U.S. and the Colorado Oil & Gas Association is also satisfied with the outcome.

“Colorado now has the strongest hydraulic fracturing rule in the country,” said COGA president and CEO Tisha Schuller. “But more importantly, we have gained a model process to bring together industry, environmental advocates, and regulators to ensure energy development continues in keeping with protecting the environmental resources of our state.”

“The Commission’s unanimous support for the new hydraulic fracturing disclosure rule is great news for Colorado. The Hickenlooper administration, environmental groups, and the oil and gas industry have agreed upon a rule of which all Coloradoans can be proud.

The Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s work emphasizes protecting groundwater in our operations. This new rule, combined with COGA’s baseline water sampling program, will provide our communities with the tools they need to ensure groundwater is protected.

The public can review hydraulic fracturing fluids on a well-by-well basis at www.fracfocus.org.

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4 Responses

  1. Sounds like good news!

  2. When the industry agrees, you know the devil’s in the details somewhere. The problems only show up after the drilling. But, as long as everyone is happy, so be it.

  3. Gasfracking as Alternative to Hydrofracking

    A process is available today to alleviate most of the environmental concerns posed by hydraulic fracturing and actually produce natural gas wells that have a higher flow rate and greater total volume of NG than hydrofracking. It is called “gasfracking” and was invented by Gasfrac Energy Services Inc of Alberta, CN.

    Instead of water and toxic chemicals, it uses a propane gel called “Liquified Propane Gas” or “LPG”. Along with methane, propane is one of the gases that are pumped out of natural gas wells, and virtually 100% of the LPG is recovered. It contains no toxic substances that can pollute the groundwater.

    After fracking, the pressure that caused the rock to fracture is released. The propane gel, which has a specific gravity that is much lower than hydrofracking fluids, then returns to its gaseous phase and can be pumped out, along with the newly released natural gas. It also is much less viscous and thus does not adhere to rock surfaces or the proppant injected into the cracks .It can then be reused or pumped through natural gas pipelines to refineries. Consequently, there is no need for “evaporating ponds” that allow volatile chemicals in fracking fluids to enter the atmosphere.

    Many environmentalists do not want any shale fracturing to be done because it still contributes to global climate change. I get that. However, at present, there are no viable substitutes for fossil fuels. Hopefully, that will change in the near future. Drilling for natural gas is therefore here to stay for the near term.

    Consequently, the most urgent thing that needs to be done right now is to stop the pollution of ground and surface water, as well as the atmosphere, by the process of hydrofracturing. We still have a little time to reverse global warming. However, about 50% of hydrofracking fluid with its witch’s brew of toxic chemicals remains in the ground forever. Putting an end to this process should therefore be an even higher priority than climate change.

  4. I read the Gasfrac info, and it makes a better case for going after O & G, especially here in Colorado, with all the terrain that’s involved. It definitely reads better than the present method does., especially it not being dangerous to the environment. Thanks Gwain, for the heads up, totally unexpected. It does show that indeed, there are other less destructive methods available. I wonder, was this process brought up in the planning stages?

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