Cities, counties oppose legislation on gas fracturing

Bill sponsored by Colorado Dems draws little support in drilling areas

Opponents of a measure that would give federal authority over hydraulic fracturing for natural gas have marshaled opposition from several Western Slope counties and cities.

The measure sponsored by Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis, Democrats from Denver and Boulder, respectively, has yet to garner the support of the congressional representatives of the districts in which most fracturing occurs.

Reps. John Salazar and Betsy Markey, Democrats whose districts include most of the drilling in the state, have taken no position on H.R. 2766, the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness for Chemicals Act of 2009. It would require energy companies to disclose the chemicals they use in the process.

Six counties, including Delta, Mesa, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties on the Western Slope, and Morgan and Weld counties in northern Colorado east of the Continental Divide, have adopted resolutions opposing the legislation.

Weld County contains 25 percent of the state’s gas wells and includes the Wattenberg field, the eighth largest in the nation, the Weld County Commission said.

“Due to the nature of the geology in the Wattenberg field, the ability to utilize hydraulic fracturing is extremely important, and hydraulic fracturing allows wells in this area to be fractured several times before losing their productivity, resulting in fewer wells that have to be drilled,” the Weld County Commission said.

In addition to the counties, the towns of Delta, Naturita, Nucla, Rangely and Grand Junction oppose the bill.

The measure, along with companion legislation, is “vague and not narrowly tailored to balance and protect the important local, state and domestic interests of resource exploration,” Grand Junction Mayor Bruce Hill said in a council-authorized letter to legislators.

“Please do not allow a vague bill to be passed,” the Grand Junction letter said. “Make it clear that fracturing should be allowed and preferably that it be done with green fluids.”
Energy companies have resisted the measure because their fracturing processes are proprietary.

Club 20, the Western Slope lobbying and promotional organization, announced its opposition Monday, saying the bill would supplant state regulation.


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