The United States holds enough oil and gas to power the country for hundreds of years, and Colorado is at the center of the search for energy resources. Using a controversial process called hydraulic fracturing—better known as fracking—and new drilling techniques, oil and gas companies are able to extract these previously inaccessible fossil fuels. These technologies may be the biggest step yet toward securing our energy independence. But at what cost?
State of change
A quick look at the state rules that regulate fracking.
Oil and gas operators are required to inventory the chemicals at each well site, notify the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) 48 hours before any frack job, and monitor the well pressure during the fracking process. As of April 2012, Colorado became one of the first states to require its operators to disclose the chemicals in their solutions within 60 days of completing a frack job. “Colorado’s disclosure rule isn’t perfect, but it’s a good step in the right direction,” says Earthjustice attorney Mike Freeman. “The idea is that before you can even figure out how big of a problem fracking is, you need to know what they’re using.”
Setbacks are one of the hottest fracking debate topics in Colorado. The current rules require a drill pad to be set back 150 feet from a building, or 350 feet from buildings in high-density areas. In October, the COGCC launched a process, which may take up to three months, to consider changes to the existing setback rules.