Colorado Currents | Winter 2013

colorado currents
2013 Winter/Legislative Session Edition

Oil and Gas Drilling and Fracking

Clean Water Action has worked with local groups around the state to raise awareness of water dangers and other risks posed by oil and gas drilling and fracking. Together with local “fractivists” and municipalities, Clean Water Action helped win new fracking regulations and local moratorium measures, including those in Fort Collins and Boulder County. The Fort Collins moratorium is in effect through July 2013. The Boulder County moratorium expires this February, but will likely be extended to give the county time to update and strengthen its recently adopted fracking regulations. Helping additional communities exercise their rights for local control of drilling and fracking operations is a priority for the coming year.

“Setback” rules determining the distance allowed between drill sites and structures such as homes and schools were also hotly debated. Current state law allows drilling and fracking as close 350 feet in densely populated areas and 150 feet in rural areas. A state “setbacks stakeholder” group is recommending new drill site setback standards.

Communities along the Front Range are concerned about current standards and are looking to scientific studies to guide setbacks rulemaking. Clean Water Action supports a 2,000-foot minimum drill site setback in Colorado. Read more

Oil from rocks?

Oil shale deposits, Colorado.  Photo by Doc SearlsDo you believe in magic? Big Oil and their supporters hope so, as they advocate their latest domestic energy source: oil shale.

Oil shale is neither oil nor shale. This finely-grained sedimentary rock - more properly known as organic marlstone - is infused with kerogen, not oil. Kerogen is a dense blend of ancient algae and pond scum, and is an essential ingredient in oil and natural gas. But transforming kerogen to oil requires millennia, coupled with intense heat and crushing geologic pressure. Otherwise the kerogen remains a relatively energy-poor waxy deposit in sedimentary rocks, such as oil shale.

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Clean Water Action is the nation’s largest grassroots group focused on water, energy and environmental health.  Clean Water Action’s 1 million members participate in Clean Water Action’s programs for clean, water, prevention of health-threatening pollution, and creation of environmentally-safe jobs and businesses.  Clean Water Action’s nonpartisan campaigns empower people to make democracy work.

The Tug of War over Fracking

frack operations - smaller.JPGClean Water Action has been active at local and state levels to ensure that the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry is taking every precaution to protect our communities and our water when drilling for oil and natural gas. In 2013, communities joined Clean Water Action and stood up to big oil and gas. Local moratoriums against fracking were passed in Boulder, Broomfield, and Fort Collins.  Voters in Lafayette, CO voted to ban fracking.  Collectively, voters make sure their frustration with fracking and the state’s lack of leadership was heard, loud and clear.

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Clean Water Art WorkWe need action now to secure a clean water future for everyone. I support the goal of fishable, swimmable, drinkable water for Colorado and throughout the country.

Success on many of our top clean water priorities has never been closer - restoring protection for small streams and wetlands, controlling polluted runoff,
reducing toxic pollution that threatens our drinking water, and more - we just need you. This progress, and the positive momentum we're talking about didn’t happen automatically — it happened thanks to Clean Water Action members like you.

Votes on fracking catch guv’s eye

Gov. John Hickenlooper has acknowledged that recent municipal votes imposing hydraulic fracturing bans in four Colorado cities demonstrate the health concerns of Colorado residents living amid a record gas and oil drilling boom along the state’s Front Range.

“The fracking ban votes reflect the genuine anxiety and concern of having an industrial process close to neighborhoods,” Hickenlooper said recently in a prepared statement. The statement came after a tally of final votes showed residents in Broomfield successfully passed a fourth so-called “fracking ban” in Colorado.
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Flood spills spur review of state plans for oil

DENVER (AP) — As floodwater started to rise Sept. 11, some oil and gas operators began shutting wells and securing facilities. It would be five days before state regulators announced their own plans.

“Did the state have a disaster plan for the oil and gas fields?” asked Bruce Baziel, energy program director of the environmental group Earthworks. “It was hard to tell.”

From the start, state oil and gas regulators were gathering information and passing it on to the incident commander overseeing disaster response, said Alan Gilbert, a Colorado Department of Natural Resources official.

“That’s our role as a technical agency,” Gilbert said.
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In Wake Of Colo. Floods, A Scramble To Clean Up Spilled Oil

The in Colorado this month caused more than 37,000 gallons of oil to spill into or near rivers, and the state's oil and gas industry is rushing to fix equipment damaged during the storm. It comes at a time when there's growing public concern about the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing in the state.

In recent years, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies have enabled more oil and gas production along Colorado's Eastern Plains. The boom has led to thousands of well sites across the state. As heavy rain entered the forecast, operators shut off wells and equipment in flood-prone areas — and then water rose.
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Fracking and Flooding in Colorado: The More We Know the Worse It Gets

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) reported three new spills today from damaged oil and gas wells caused by the torrential rains and subsequent flooding that continues to batter the state of Colorado.

As reported on EcoWatch last week, displaced condensate tanks near Greely and Kersey, CO, used to store liquid waste from drilling operations, have tipped over and are leaking.
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Colorado confirms more oil spills but flood flows complicate clean-up

State regulators raised their tally of oil and gas storage tanks toppled in the flood to 24 and documented more spills Friday, bringing the total to more 22,000 gallons of oil contaminating Colorado's South Platte River valley.

It remained uncertain Friday whether all spills will be cleaned up or if companies will be held accountable. Storage tanks generally hold 12,600 gallons of oil.
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