State has a lot riding on fight over fracking

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Today’s editorial – “State has a lot riding on fight over fracking” – needlessly impugns the motives of those supporting local “communities across the state” seeking “a stronger voice in how drillers operate in their own backyards”. 

While that editorial suggests that supporters of increased local control may be “engaged in some level of intellectual dishonesty”, it entirely ignores the demonstrable fact that the oil & gas industry’s “fracking is completely safe” media campaign has been based on “intellectual dishonesty” for years.

Since Dick Cheney’s Energy Policy Act of 2005 codified the so-called “Halliburton Loopholes”, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has been exempted from congressionally-intended regulation under the “underground injection well” provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act, and its potentially toxic fluids and emissions have been exempted from the definition of “pollutant” in both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. 

Those exemptions effectively prohibit common sense pre-drilling mandates for baseline ground water and air quality testing – thereby “spoliating” clear proof of causality after contamination occurs.  Of course, if “fracking is completely safe”, there should be no need for blanket exemptions from regulations that routinely apply to other industries (and that may well explain why “there’s little evidence that fracking poses health risks”).

Thus, because “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, some communities are responsibly seeking to fill the dubious regulatory vacuum created by the “Halliburton Loopholes” – and the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that local communities are not pre-empted from regulating some aspects of oil & gas operations within their boundaries.

While localized bans would have only a marginal effect on the state’s economy, a state-wide ban could be more “devastating” – unless (ala gambling) such a ban allowed local jurisdictions to “opt out” and permit “fracking” if they so choose.

“Local control” can work both ways.

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