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Colorado Governor Calls for Public Disclosure of Fracking Fluids

KUNC file photo

Governor John Hickenlooper says he wants oil and gas companies in Colorado to publicly disclose the chemicals in their hydraulic fracturing, or fracking fluids.  Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association in Denver Tuesday, the Governor said he wants the state’s oil and gas regulatory commission to adopt a new rule to that end by the end of the year.

"We don’t have to say what the percentages are, but we should say what the components are, because that becomes a key part of building this trust and this relationship," Hickenlooper said.

Right now, companies drilling in Colorado only have to disclose the chemicals used during the fracking process to state regulators.  Reporting them to the public is voluntary and done via a state website.  But some states like Wyoming and Texas have recently adopted mandatory public disclosure laws;  moves that followed growing national concerns that fracking chemicals are polluting groundwater

Hickenlooper said that’s not a concern in Colorado, where gas wells are fracked in tight-shale formations thousands of feet below the groundwater table.  But nevertheless, the Democrat reiterated to reporters later that it wouldn't hurt the industry to be more transparent to the public.

"What I keep saying is, it’s for the benefit of the oil and gas industry to have this trust and this relationship with the public," Hickenlooper said.

Oil and gas companies have long been cool to a public disclosure rule, especially a proposed national law proposed by Colorado Democratic Representative Diana DeGette.  But there are signs that some in the industry - especially at this COGA conference - are open to discussing the proposal.  

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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