Independent group reviewing Colorado fracking rules
By Catherine Tsai The Associated Press
Posted: 06/24/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT
Colorado's oil-and-gas regulators are volunteering to have an outside group review the state's rules on fracking, an extraction method that some people worry could taint drinking-water supplies.
The State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations, or Stronger, represents regulators, environmentalists and energy companies. Its members visited Colorado on Thursday to review how well the state's hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, rules protect public health and the environment.
Stronger last evaluated Colorado's oil-and-gas rules in 1996. This time, it is reviewing state guidelines on fracking, which blasts water, chemicals and sand into rock to free natural gas. Colorado is the fifth state to volunteer for a review.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission earlier this month sent Stronger written responses to questions about its rules. On Thursday, commission staff took questions in person from Stronger reviewers Lori Wrotenbery of the Oil and Gas Conservation Division of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, environmental scientist Wilma Subra and Jim Collins of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
They asked about the breadth of Colorado's data on water wells and aquifers, philosophies on casing wells, how regulators handle odor complaints, and other issues.
Stronger's final report is expected later this year. It will be up to the commission to decide what to do with the findings, but the public could weigh in if the commission decides to change its rules.
Colorado commission director David Neslin, a Stronger board member, said there have been no verified instances of fracking contaminating water in Colorado.