Fracking Rules Under Review


"Colorado regulators put their fracking rules to the test."

Durango Herald, Joe Hanel

State gas and oil regulators put their rules for hydraulic fracturing to the test Thursday by inviting an independent review board to offer criticisms.

A panel from STRONGER—which stands for State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations—spent the day quizzing Colorado regulators about the rules they passed in 2008.

Colorado requires companies to disclose the content of their fluids upon demand by state regulators, but the information is not public.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission invited the review, both to improve its rules and to increase public knowledge, said David Neslin, executive director of the COGCC.

"There's a need for state agencies to educate the public about energy realities. How is energy produced, and how is it regulated?" Neslin said.

The STRONGER board will issue a report in 2–3 months.

Baizel, a lawyer with the Oil and Gas Accountability Project, said he was especially interested in the source and disposition of the vast amounts of water used in frack jobs.

Until recently, companies have treated their frack fluids as a trade secret. A surge in public criticism over the secrecy has led some states to adopt stricter regulations.

Colorado passed its rule in the summer of 2008, around the time a nurse at Durango's Mercy Regional Medical Center fell gravely ill after she treated a gas-field worker for exposure to a frack-fluid spill.

Fracking has been going on in Colorado for decades, Neslin said. It's now ubiquitous and nearly every new well in the state is fracked, he said.

"To date, we have identified no verified instance of hydraulic fracturing chemicals contaminating groundwater in Colorado. But I don't think that ends the discussion," Neslin said.

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