BLM hears from Coloradans on hydraulic fracturing

GOLDEN — Federal land managers are trying to balance the risks and rewards of hydraulic fracturing, a process that blasts water, sand and chemicals underground to free natural gas.

Industry representatives, regulators and residents offered different views on how it’s going at a Bureau of Land Management forum in Golden on Monday.

Some residents said they worry how hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, might affect groundwater. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission director Dave Neslin said his agency has investigated hundreds of complaints tied to fracking, but hasn’t found any groundwater contamination.

Dave Cesark of Mesa Energy in Grand Junction said the risk isn’t zero, but fracking has been used safely for decades, the Coloradoan reported.

“Fracking has been performed for over 60 years on over 1 million wells,” he said. “Nine of every 10 wells currently in production have gone through fracturing.”

A report issued by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and others in Congress this month said oil and gas companies used more than 1.5 million gallons of fluids containing cancer-causing agents between 2005 and 2009 in Colorado.

Aspen Science Center geologist Rich Ward said there are multiple layers of steel piping and cement that isolate the well from contact with water tables.

The BLM has said the Interior Department wants to ensure oil and gas development on public lands is done responsibly and sustainably.

Meanwhile the Environmental Protection Agency is studying effects of fracking on health and drinking water.

Theo Colborn of TEDX, which disseminates information on environmental and health problems from exposure to chemicals, has questioned how the EPA is conducting its study.

“I’m very concerned the EPA study on fracking is not looking at air. If you look around you, it’s the people on the jobs, the people living around there that are becoming ill. I would wager air pollution is the key to all your health problems,” said Colborn, who did not attend the forum.

The forum was among three the BLM was holding this month on fracking. The others were in North Dakota and Arkansas. About 300 people attended the Colorado forum, The Gazette reported.

Some residents are pushing for more disclosure of fracking fluid recipes. The recently launched http://www.fracfocus.org is a website that lets companies voluntarily share what ingredients they are using.



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