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Energy Advocates and Environmentalists in Colorado Voice Fracking Concerns to BLM

Drililng operations in Western Colorado
Kirk Siegler
Drililng operations in Western Colorado

As the controversy over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking continues, western oil and gas industry officials are touting its record to Bureau of Land Management officials in Golden Monday afternoon.  This comes as the agency is considering new, tougher national regulations of the practice.

The BLM is currently holding public meetings around the west taking input on new, proposed regulations of fracking - which include disclosure of chemicals.  Oil and gas companies have come under more scrutiny of the process of late, as reports of groundwater contamination near drilling operations have increased.  

The process entails busting through tight sand formations by using a mixture of sand, water and chemicals to get at energy reserves. 

“We believe it’s unwise for the BLM to impose new, redundant, regulation when the states have been successfully regulating hydraulic fracturing for decades,” says Kathleen Sgamma, director of government and public affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, a Colorado-based advocacy group that represents oil and gas companies.

Environmental advocates aren’t so sure of the method’s safety; they say if the chemicals are safe, then companies should disclose exactly what they are using.

“We think that requiring, at the federal level, not trying to do a piecemeal state-by-state or voluntary disclosure requirement is adequate,” says Michelle Haefele, economist at the Wilderness Society's Denver office.

According to a recent congressional report, Colorado ranked second in the U.S. is the amount of hydraulic fracturing fluids used in oil and gas development.  That same report found 29 possible human carcinogens are being used in fracking.  Many companies deny their chemicals are unsafe – but maintain they have to be kept secret for proprietary reasons.  Some states have moved to ban the process all together.