2:15pm

Wed March 20, 2013
Politics

Increased Fracking Inspections And Inspectors Slated For Debate

A measure designed to ease public concerns about hydraulic fracturing is scheduled for a public hearing at the capitol Thursday.

Bente Birkeland reports on the first public hearing of the first drilling related bill introduced this session

Democratic Senator Matt Jones says his bill will add needed protections by increasing the number of inspectors and requiring all oil and gas wells to be inspected at least once a year.

There are some 50,000 active oil and gas wells in Colorado and Jones says on average, each gets inspected about once every three years.

Senator Jones is from Longmont, one of the epicenters of the fracking debate. The state of Colorado is suing the city for passing strict local regulations and last November voters passed a ban on fracking.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association says it’s still reviewing the legislation but already has several concerns. The association supports the idea of additional staff, but says 70 new inspectors would be expensive.

Democrats also introduced three other oil and gas bills this week.

The first would increase fines for oil and gas operators who harm public health, safety or the environment. Another would require sellers to notify a prospective buyer if someone else owns the property’s mineral rights.

Democrats have also pledged to introduce a host of anti-fracking bills dealing with local control issues and setback distances.

Governor John Hickenlooper has faced a backlash from environmental groups for being what they say is too pro-industry. Hickenlooper’s office says he’s not yet taken a position on these measures.

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