Gas drillers leery of redrawn maps for protection of wildlife

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Tuesday approved updated maps defining areas where special regulations apply for protection of wildlife when drilling is proposed. The…




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As today’s Daily Sentinel editorial (“Methane scare evaporating”) suggests, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) may be “safer” – at least as to uncontrolled methane releases – than strident environmentalists have contended.  However, to dismiss the concerns of anti-fracking activists as a “canard” grossly overstates the conclusiveness of the cited study.  Nevertheless, it is indeed refreshing that the debate is finally being informed by available scientific evidence.

Meanwhile, Dennis Webb’s accompanying report (“Energy firm fined $50,000 for pit violations at fatality site”) clearly suggests that oil & gas operations aren’t nearly as “safe” as “some folks have led us to believe”, that the industry still cannot be trusted to voluntarily control the many “potential environmental hazards associated with drilling and fracking” and/or to comply with existing rules, and thus that rigorous enforcement of common-sense evidence-based regulations remains imperative.

As Dennis Webb likewise reported (“Gas drillers leery of redrawn maps for protection of wildlife”), the oil & gas industry continues to resist common-sense regulations based on scientific evidence pertinent to its legal responsibility to minimize impacts on wildlife.  Thus, it is premature to allow the “good news” about methane to induce complacency.

Moreover, the Daily Sentinel remains increasingly remiss in failing to call for repeal of the so-called “Halliburton Exception” to the Safe Drinking Water Act – which legally exempts “fracking” from the stricter regulatory scrutiny to which it would otherwise be legally subjected if properly regulated as “underground injection wells”.

Every time the industry touts its “safety” – and every time scientific evidence lends some credence to such assertions – the rationale for exempting “fracking” from long-standing and well-established environmental laws (including the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts) becomes less convincing.

And, as anecdotal evidence continues to accumulate that self-serving industry assertions merit less deference than claimed, the rationale for ending fracking’s dubiously unique exemptions becomes more compelling.

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