Making Democracy Work

Fracking

Hydraulic Fracturing Consensus Study

Hydraulic Fracturing: (Position adopted 2013)
LWVCO supports policies that enhance public participation in the permitting and monitoring of oil and gas operations in the state. LWVCO supports efforts to improve coordination with local governmental units for environmental management and wise land use. We support strong environmental regulations for water quality, air quality and those that impact human health.

League Position on Fracking

Hydraulic Fracturing: (Adopted 2013) LWVCO supports policies that enhance public participation in the permitting and monitoring of oil and gas operations in the state. LWVCO supports efforts to improve coordination with local governmental units for environmental management and wise land use. We support strong environmental regulations for water quality, air quality and those that impact human health.

Support for:

  • Public hearings held in the actual community of thedrilling.
  • Public notice of hearings on transparent user-friendly web sites and other media.
  • Transparent, user-friendly web site to register complaints and view subsequent resolution.
  • Use of the Local Government Designee (LGD) and education for LGD's in the state in order to more easily respond to local citizen concerns.
  • Strong environmental and safety regulation of water quality and air quality including pre and post testing of water wells and air around all oil and gas well sites.
  • Transparency in the reporting of all chemicals used during drilling, posted on a neutral website that is easily accessible to the public.
  • Adequate number of inspectors for the volume of oil & gas activity in the state to ensure that operations are safe and accidents are properly reported and mitigated.
  • Research, development and use of environmentally friendly extraction methods and equipment, including those providing for the capture of methane.
  • Monitoring of the water quantity used for oil and gas drilling operations in a manner that is transparent to the public.
  • Reporting of information on the demands for water used for oil and gas drilling in specific river basins.
  • Reuse of produced water, with regulatory oversight.

HISTORY
LWVCO supported unsuccessful attempts in the early 1970s to enact a Colorado Environmental Policy Act. In the mid-1970s, the League successfully supported legislation that required consideration of geological and topographical factors in new subdivision approvals, and also the passage of the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Act.

During the push to develop Colorado's oil shale resources, from the early 1970s through the early 1980s, LWVCO urged that all the federal agencies involved coordinate their planning and environmental 28 assessment procedures, and that state agencies be included in the planning for development. The League emphasized that any oil shale projects should be environmentally sound and should abide by all federal and state environmental and planning laws. Attempts to abolish the reclamation program for minerals have consistently been opposed by the League.

During the 1990's the LWVCO opposed bills regarding "private property rights" or "takings," since they undermined comprehensive land use planning and were fiscally onerous. The bills were defeated. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was established in 1951 to handle the permitting and oversight of oil and gas drilling operations. In 2007 LWVCO supported revamping the composition of the Commission to decrease the number of individuals working in the industry, and to increase the members representing concerns about health, the environment, and the interests of surface land owners. During the 2011 session, attempts were made to reverse this, but were defeated.

By early 2013 Colorado had over 49,000 oil and gas drilling operations, predominantly on the Front Range and in the southwest part of the state. As the number has increased over the last few years and operations have come closer to populated areas, there has been legislation introduced to address a variety of health and safety issues. During the 2013 session League-supported bills passed increasing the number of inspectors for oil and gas operations and decreasing the lower limit for number of barrels spilled that triggers reporting requirements. LWVCO also supported bills allowing use of produced water for dust suppression, increasing penalties for violations, and mandating uniform groundwater sampling, but these failed.

Resources

Materials used in the League's study of hydraulic fracturing are available online here: League of Women Voters of Colorado Website

Useful Links on the subject of hydraulic fracturing provided by the League of Women Voters of Colorado

League of Women Voters of Colorado positions, including the position on hydraulic fracturing are available here.

Consensus Study

The process to reach a position on hydraulic fracturing is typical of how all League positions are taken. In 2011, LWVCO convention delegates voted to have a study on Hydraulic Fracturing. Local Leagues throughout Colorado arranged for members to consider and study consensus on the subject of hydraulic fracturing. A committee was formed and work began in the summer of 2011. After assessing other state leagues studies on hydrofracturing, it was decided that LWVCO would do a study rather than a concurrence in order to address coal bed methane and water quantity issues, not covered in other leagues' studies. Local Leagues sent consensus results to the State Board and a state position was decided in the spring of 2013.