heavy on
 fall ballot

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Charles Ashby’s timely and informative report – “Fracking heavy on fall ballot agendas” – contains the implied proposition that the “practice of pumping water and chemicals into the ground to free up natural gas deposits” is somehow only “now controversial”.

That suggestion entirely ignores the fact that “hydraulic fracturing” (“fracking”) has been “controversial” for almost a decade “now” – since (following secretive meetings with oil and gas executives convened by then-Vice President and former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney) Congress enacted the “drill, baby, drill” Energy Policy Act of 2005.

That fossil-fuel-favoring “policy” act expressly exempted “fracking” from the regulatory regime otherwise applicable to “underground injection wells” under the Safe Drinking Water Act, exempted “fracking” effluents (e.g., “produced water”) from the definition of “pollutant” under the Clean Water Act, and similarly exempted “fracking” emissions (e.g., methane) from the definition of “pollutant” under the Clean Air Act.

The industry justified these “Halliburton Loopholes” by claiming that “fracking” was so “completely safe” that there was no need to regulate it under those time-tested statutes; and that compliance with “unnecessary regulations” would needlessly increase the “costs of production” (thereby constraining both supply and profits, which could be maximized by imposing – i.e., “externalizing” – those costs on the environment and the public).

Over the last nine years, a perpetual procession of leaks, spills, burns, scientific papers, explosions, earthquakes, and public health studies has at least suggested (if not proven) that industry-funded propaganda was false, that industry-sponsored politicians were liars, and that “fracking” – even if only a potential risk to public health – was not “completely safe”.

Therefore, recognizing the regulatory vacuum created by “bought-and-paid-for” public policy and perpetuated by industry-sponsored politicians, some Colorado communities have prudently opted to be “safe, rather than sorry” by seeking to take local responsibility for policing the tradeoff between economic benefits and public health.


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