"Fracking is racing across northern Colorado – the entire region is being used as a huge guinea pig," said Gary Wockner, Program Director of Clean Water Action. "At a minimum, we need to close the trade secret loophole, find out how much water is being used in fracking, and mark fracking fluids so that polluters can be held accountable."
On Dec. 5, 2011, COGCC is holding a meeting to discuss new rules for fracking in Colorado. The meeting comes as drilling and fracking is moving into suburban neighborhoods across the Front Range, and as two oil companies – Anadarko and Noble – just announced major new oil finds in the Niobrara Shale formations in northern Colorado. Weld County already has more active oil and gas wells – about 18,000 – than any other county in the U.S. Anadarko and Noble suggest they may drill a few thousand more wells over the next several years in northern Colorado.
Clean Water Action’s first request is to close the “trade secret loophole.” Earlier in 2011, Governor Hickenlooper announced that he wanted public disclosure of fracking fluids, but when the rules were proposed they contained a “trade secret loophole” where companies could avoid public disclosure.
“If we don’t close the trade secret loophole, this rule is meaningless,” said Wockner. “Governor Hickenlooper needs to see this promise through and make sure COGCC closes the loophole.”
Second, Clean Water Action wants drilling and fracking companies to disclose the amount of water they are using and the source of that water. In the last few months, considerable media attention has focused on drilling and fracking as a major user of water potentially adding more stress to Colorado’s water supply problems. Estimates range from a few hundred thousand to a few million acre feet of water will be needed for drilling and fracking over the next few decades.
“Nobody seems to know how much water drilling and fracking uses,” said Wockner. “Let’s go right to the source and have the drillers and frackers report their water use so that Colorado knows how much additional stress this will place on our rivers and farms which are already being drained and dried up.”
Finally, Clean Water Action asked that “markers” be placed in fracking fluids so that pollution can be traced to the source.
“When pollution occurs, we need to hold polluters accountable,” said Wockner. “Putting chemical markers in fracking fluids will let the public and regulators know who caused the pollution and who needs to pay to clean it up.”