The Sensible Middle of the Fracking Debate

If you believe some political pundits, our nation is hopelessly divided. But as two former Colorado governors – one Democrat, one Republican – we think the pundits are wrong.

True, the extreme voices in most debates get more media attention, but what the public really wants, and eventually demands, is common ground.

Just ask 67 percent of voters in a recent Bipartisan Policy Center survey, who indicated they want people to “work across party lines and engage in give-and-take to try to come up with solutions.”

Today, there are few better examples of common ground than energy – specifically, the tremendous increase in homegrown oil and natural gas production made possible by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Elected officials from both parties – and from the president on down – have correctly noted the positive impact that this renewed American drive for energy independence is having on the U.S. economy.

On June 24th, residents in Loveland will be asked to vote on a false choice being presented to them when they receive a local ballot concerning whether or not to ban fracking.

As governors, we’ve had the privilege of learning firsthand that oil and natural gas is being responsibly developed in Colorado. We recently joined Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) to make sure more Coloradans know about the great things happening right here in our own state.

And we feel obligated to publicly reject this false choice being presented to Colorado’s voters— that we have to choose either energy production or a pristine environment. The truth is we can have both.

Fracking isn’t a political belief; it’s a technology.

In Colorado, it’s used to open tiny fractures in deep shale formations, which are trapped below a mile or more of solid rock. Fracking lasts just a few days and takes place after a well has been drilled, reinforced with multiple steel and cement barriers, and tested to ensure the water table near the surface is protected. Water, sand and a tiny percentage of chemical additives are injected thousands of feet down the well until there’s enough pressure to crack the shale and access the oil and gas trapped inside. Without those cracks, the oil and gas cannot flow into the well.

Fracking was pioneered in the 1940s and has been closely studied, tightly regulated and constantly improved by experts inside and outside the industry. It’s been safely used more than a million times across the nation.

The oil and natural gas industry isn’t perfect – no industry is. But the so-called debate over fracking is nowhere near as controversial as Loveland residents have been told by “ban fracking” groups campaigning in our state.

There’s too much fear, division and political ideology in Colorado’s fracking debate. Together, we can go the extra mile and let’s work together to make good decisions based on the facts.

Former Colorado governors Roy Romer and Bill Owens are co-chairs of Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED).

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

3 Responses to The Sensible Middle of the Fracking Debate

  1. Bob Simons
    June 13, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    What makes you think people should seek a middle ground? Colorado has been fracking wells for 67 years and no (zero) instances of water contamination have occured. All we hear about is how to protect ourselves; against what! Do you seriously think that our State Regulators (whom you seem to be challenging) are less effective than a whole crapper full of locally elected officials will be? You can’t be serious. Do you really expect to find and elect someone from your community who has the skill to examine stuff and represent you? What a wet dream!

  2. Dont Frack
    June 15, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    What exactly is the middle ground you are proposing? Actually funding non-partisan scientific studies on the health and environmental impacts of fracking in residential areas, PRIOR to allowing them to be drilled all over? Requiring fracking to comply with major Federal water and air regulations, which it currently enjoys exemptions from? Requiring the industry to disclose its chemicals and properly and safely control its emissions and its waste? None of these things would ever, ever happen if citizens didn’t organize and force the companies to bend.

    If our elected officials did their jobs and required the industry to prove that it’s practices are safe, instead of helping them writing loopholes into the laws that serve its profits over people business practices, then there would be no controversy. The problem, of course, is that these huge businesses could care less about the communities that they plunder and they have long enjoyed the power to do whatever they want. Largely because they own politicians such as yourselves.

    • Brian Mcfarlane
      June 16, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      Middle ground? You mean such as no drilling/wells within 501ft of an occupied structure?

      Also COGCC rules like the “high density rules” that apply significant restrictions on oil and gas development in areas where there is dense surface residential development on 2 acre or less equivalent lot sizes. In most cases these rules essentially preclude any new oil and gas development because of safety concerns…

      The region north of Denver and extending to Greeley Colorado, where anti-fracking activists are currently campaigning “was used as a laboratory to develop the optimum fracturing treatment” since the 1970’s. Claims that there has not been significant scientific study into fracturing betray an ignorance of forty years of R&D.
      The COGCC has to give approval for drilling wells. Colorado is as regulated or more than any state on drilling wells.

      The COGCC lists answers to many typical questions relating to mineral rights and fracking/drilling, here is a link.

      Also, the COGCC may suspend operations if it finds a company is violating COGCC rules, or to protect the public from significant injury, but the COGCC cannot interfere with the private party contracts establishing the surface and mineral owners’ rights to the property.

      The EPA regulates both wastewater and air regulations and have done several studies into the oil and gas industry. There are regulations that logically do not apply to the fracking of wells or the oil and gas well industry.
      Here is info on that…

      Maybe you can be more specific on which regulations the SHOULD have to comply with?


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