Club 20 opposes stiffer drilling regs

A measure that would give federal officials greater sway over drilling for natural gas has drawn opposition from Club 20.

The legislation proposed by U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis, Democrats from Denver and Boulder, would do away with an exemption for hydraulic fracturing from the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.

Congress originally deferred monitoring of hydraulic fracturing to the states “because of the unique geologic formations and the complexity of monitoring groundwater,” said Club 20 Executive Director Reeves Brown. He said he thought it “offensive” that two representatives would introduce such a measure “without even checking with (U.S. Rep.
John Salazar) and getting him on board.”

Salazar’s 3rd Congressional District includes the Western Slope.

Salazar has yet to take a position on the issue.

In the absence of any evidence that the existing regulations don’t protect groundwater, “there is just no justification for removing state oversight authority,” Brown said.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has strict regulations on the drilling industry already, Brown said.

The new regulations went into effect this spring.

DeGette and Polis introduced the measure, 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.

Companies, however, have said their processes are proprietary.

Natural gas is freed from formations deep beneath the surface — 5,000 to about 10,000 feet in northwest Colorado’s Piceance Basin — by fracturing them with burst of pressurized water and chemicals.


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