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During last month’s election, four Front Range communities took on different versions of a similar question: to frack or not to frack? In three of those communities, the answer was clear. Residents in Boulder and Fort Collins passed five year moratoriums on fracking. Lafayette banned hydraulic fracturing—a process used to extract oil and gas locked in dense rock formations beneath the earth’s surface—altogether. Broomfield, on the other hand, is still trying to determine the results.
On election night, it appeared the Broomfield ballot measure that would prohibit fracking for five years failed by about two dozen votes, but the count soon tipped the other way and passed by fewer than 20 votes. The margin was close enough, however, to trigger an automatic recount, which, according to news reports, Broomfield officials will start today and should finish later this week.
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Last year, 5280 examined the process of hydraulic fracturing, which employs a cocktail of water, sand, and chemicals to get at deposits of oil and gas trapped in rocks deep underground. Many of the same questions we tackled in that story remain. What is the impact of fracking? Is the process a means to energy independence? And, most importantly, is it safe?