A Democratic fracture over fracking

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter is at odds with Congresswoman Diana DeGette and other Democrats in Congress over the need for federal legislation to regulate chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, a process used to improve the recovery of oil and gas from wells.

Ritter, reasonably enough, thinks DeGette’s proposed legislation could be an impediment to the development of our natural gas and is largely unnecessary because new state rules address fracking chemicals.

We’re with the governor on this.

Several federal studies under both Republican and Democratic administrations found no link between fracking chemicals and contamination of drinking water. That’s why it was excluded from the federal Safe Water Drinking Act in the first place.

Additionally, Colorado’s new rules for oil and gas drilling, specifically require drillers to keep records of the fracking compounds and make them available for state inspection upon request. Those rules have only been in effect for a few months. They should be given a chance to work.

Furthermore, it makes sense, as Ritter said he told DeGette, to let each state develop the rules it believes best suits its needs rather than adopt one-size-fits-all federal regulations.

DeGette, unfortunately, seems committed to pushing her fracking legislation, regardless of what the governor and local government officials in Colorado want.

Ritter, of course, angered many people in the energy industry and their supporters for pushing the Legislature to adopt a bill requiring the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to adopt new drilling rules, then staunchly defending those regulations when the industry fought them.

The governor has been more conciliatory toward the industry in recent months, backing a number of measures aimed at boosting consumption of natural gas in Colorado.

How all this will affect Ritter’s political future as he seeks re-election next years is tough to predict.

But we’re glad to see Ritter is willing to stand up to a senior member of his party in Colorado, and tell DeGette that her fracking bill is the wrong prescription for this state.


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