By John Fryar Longmont Times-Call
BOULDER -- If it's legally possible, Boulder County should impose an immediate moratorium on exploratory drilling that uses hydraulic fracturing to free up oil and gas deposits, all six Democratic candidates for county commissioners' seats agreed Saturday.
That time-out would allow the county to study the possible negative impacts of "fracking" and to craft local regulations to mitigate those impacts, the would-be county commissioners said during a candidates' forum sponsored by the Boulder County Democratic Party.
Elise Jones, one of a trio of Democrats vying for the District 1 seat on the Board of County Commissioners that's up for election next year, said that if she could ban fracking entirely, she'd do so, because of the process' potential for polluting water as well as the huge volumes of water required in the procedure.
Unfortunately, Jones said, local governments such as counties are limited in what they can do to restrict such oil and gas drilling practices. But she suggested the county could be more aggressive in establishing conditions for such wells, including requiring larger setbacks from reservoirs and neighboring homes and requiring the drilling companies to use non-toxic chemicals when they pump pressurized mixtures of water, sand and chemicals underground.
Rich Lopez, another of the District 1 commissioner candidates, said that in setting new drilling rules while a moratorium is in place, Boulder County officials should "regulate anything we can to slow or stop" hydraulic fracturing -- including regulations limiting the hours in which the drilling can occur and limiting access to the well site.
Garry Sanfacon, the third Democrat vying for the District 1 county board seat that's up for election next year, went a step further. He said that during a moratorium, Boulder County should develop oil and gas drilling regulations that consider the drilling companies' impacts on county roads, nearby communities and water -- rules, he said, "that would make it virtually unfeasible" for such drilling companies "to work in our county."