County downplays need for fracking rules

Proposed federal legislation targeting hydraulic fracturing fluid, used by the energy industry to release trapped pockets of gas deep underground, drew the ire of the Mesa County Commission on Monday.

The commission unanimously passed a two-page resolution in opposition to further regulation. The resolution also claims if Congress passes the bill, it will drive up energy costs and add to Washington bureaucracy.

The bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Jared Polis, D-Colo. Both represent geographic areas on Colorado’s Front Range that have limited or no energy production, the commissioners noted.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. The bill strikes some of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s provisions and replaces it with language that calls for the disclosure of what is in fracking fluid, “but not the proprietary chemical formulas,” according to both versions of the bill.

In addition, there is a provision in the bill that calls for full disclosure of chemical formulas “of a trade-secret chemical” if there is a medical emergency.

“I guarantee you I can go into anybody’s household and find more dry chemicals than on any well pad,” said Commissioner Craig Meis, who authored the resolution. “99.5 percent
of it is basically water and sand.”

Meis then handed out a list of common frac-fluid ingredients that showed many of the same ingredients can be found in dental cleaners, hair-care products, makeup and pool cleaners.

No one spoke against the county resolution or in favor of the federal legislation, but a few hand-picked voices were in attendance.

Larry Kent, Halliburton’s district manager in Grand Junction, said in his 32 years in the energy business “there has never been an instance when hydraulic fracturing has impacted ground water.”

“It’s not so much that we are afraid and trying to hide what’s in there,” he said after the meeting. “That’s our livelihood.”

If proprietary formulas for frac fluids were public, companies would lose competitive advantages and money, he said.


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