Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and State Representative Jared Polis have reached an agreement to keep two measures to regulate fracking off the November ballot. Under the deal, Rep. Polis agreed to withdraw his support for the two ballot questions. In exchange, Gov. Hickenlooper will appoint an 18-member commission to study the fracking issue and advise the legislature. The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission will also drop its lawsuit against the City of Longmont oil and gas ordinance, which bans drilling in residential areas.
One anti-fracking ballot question would have increased the distance between drilling rigs and homes, hospitals, schools, and other community facilities from 500 to 2000 feet. The other would have added an environmental bill of rights to the state constitution giving local governments authority to stop fracking. The backers of two pro-fracking ballot questions announced that those will also be taken off the ballot; those initiatives would have deprived communities who restricted fracking from oil and gas development revenue, and the other would have required anti-fracking ballot questions contain financial impact statements.
The blue-ribbon panel will be co-chaired by La Plata County Commissioner Gwen LaChelt and Exxon-Mobil subsidiary XTO Energy’s CEO Randy Cleveland. A two-thirds majority will be required for recommendations by the panel members, drawn from local governments, industry, and conservation groups.
FIve Colorado towns have banned fracking since 2012. Many of the newest fracking wells drilled in Colorado have been on the Front Range urban corridor, north of Denver, which contains almost four and half million residents. Four of the five towns with fracking bans are in Rep. Polis’s Front Range district. Recent studies have shown a link between birth defects and fracking near populated areas.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, breaks up geologic formations to release natural gases otherwise trapped below the earth’s surface. A well is dug deep underground, and fracking fluid is injected into the punctured well casing at high pressure, which cracks or fractures the targeted rock formation. Fracking fluid is a mixture of water, sand and chemicals.
While chemicals are the lowest percentage ingredient of fracking fluid, a single fracking job still requires 39,000 pounds of chemicals. While the exact ingredients of fracking fluid have yet to be released (EPA is taking comments on making the chemical composition of fracking fluid public) we know that some of the chemicals used in fracking are toluene and glycol ethers, and other chemicals known to cause birth defects. Not all of the fracking fluid is recovered after drilling, and even the recovered fluid is often disposed of by injection into deep wells.
Attorney David Strouss has been litigating birth defect cases for over 20 years, representing the parents of children born with severe birth defects after workers were exposed to toxic chemicals in the semiconductor manufacturing, agriculture, and other industries. Thornton Law Firm is currently investigating birth defect and other reproductive disorder claims against the fracking industry in Colorado and Pennsylvania and other states. If you believe you or a family member has been harmed by nearby fracking operations, please tell us your story here, or contact our birth defect attorneys at 888-491-9726 for a free, confidential evaluation of your legal case.