Drinking the 'fracking' Kool-Aid in Colorado

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I commend Halliburton for coming up with safer technology as this industry gets bigger and bigger. This is the type of innovation we will need if we are to develop this resource in a responsible manner. Yet, it turns out the use of these technologies are anything but common practice, even in Colorado, where Governor Hickenlooper claims we have the best set of state regulations that should be used as a model for the rest of the nation.

Although Governor Hickenlooper asked the U.S. Senate to refrain from imposing stricter standards on the oil and gas industry, many Coloradans are as concerned as I am that he is actually not listening to his own constituents. Seventy percent of Coloradans polled in the recent 2013 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West bipartisan poll think that the impact of oil and gas drilling on our land, air and water is a serious problem.

We are also concerned about the speed at which this industry is growing and the lack of regulation to ensure adequate protection of our air, water and communities. It seems that the burden of proof is on the public to show that there are risks with all of this drilling and fracking rather than on the industry to prove that they can extract this resource safely. The industry, with our governor’s help, fights every attempt to strengthen standards for health and safety, leaving the public in the dark and reasonable questions from moms like me unanswered. 

The reality is that natural gas is an important energy source that should be a part of the overall energy matrix alongside renewable technologies. In fact, the poll also indicates that Coloradans prefer both solar and wind energy development with natural gas third, and that conservation of our clean water and public lands are very important in these considerations as well.  

We need to balance conservation with energy production. Our outdoors and quality of life are what makes Colorado a great place to raise a family and are also instrumental to growing our economy. Many employers choose to base their businesses in Colorado specifically for our scenic landscapes, clean air, clean water and access to parks and public lands. 

As the governor spoke to the Senate Committee in D.C., “green-tinted” oil-laden fracking fluid blasted out of an oil and gas well near my hometown, Fort Collins. The leak was a result of a mechanical failure and had been gushing for over 30 hours.

I don’t think I will be encouraging my kids to swig fracking fluid any time soon, glycol-based or not. But I will continue to ask our governor to put the health and safety of our children and our clean air and clean water above the interests of the oil and gas industry. I must also ask, if Governor Hickenlooper is such a big fan of this safer fracking fluid, why isn’t Colorado requiring operators to use it?   

Stephens is a resident of Fort Collins, Colorado.