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Chris Kulander Highlights Fracking Benefits for Colorado
Fracking Works for Colorado
Hydraulic fracturing techniques have opened a new book on oil and natural gas development in the Rocky Mountains and on the Great Plains.
Hydraulic fracturing — sometimes called "fracking" — involves injecting fluid into gas-filled shale formations at very high pressures to create man-made fractures which allow hydrocarbon production.
Fracking, a technology in prevalent use for more than 60 years, has made natural gas production from these new reservoirs possible, raised revenue for Colorado and states in the region, and created thousands of new jobs. Unfortunately, some have called for federal oversight of fracking, pre-empting state authority. Others have even promoted a moratorium on all fracking-assisted development, similar to the regulations currently in place in New York.
Last year, Colorado had its third- best year for oil and gas permits, but the fracking bonanza comes with a cost. With increased drilling come increased surface use and more chances for spills and accidents. Fracking is noisy, requires significant amounts of water, and puts more heavy trucks on country roads. The biggest concern, however, is the potential for water pollution.
Fracking fluids vary, but usually are more than 99 percent water and solids. The remainder are additives that promote the fluid's flow through pores in the rock, H2S suppressants and corrosion inhibitors. The solids are the "proppant," typically sand or ceramic pellets that prop the cracks open and allow oil or gas to flow to the well. Colorado requires energy companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking.
No evidence directly connects injection of fracking fluid into shale with aquifer contamination. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency released a study finding no confirmed instances of drinking water contamination by fracking fluids in the ground. This finding is not surprising as fracking fluid is pumped through a concrete-lined borehole to formations thousands of feet below aquifers. After environmentalists criticized the 2004 study, another study by the EPA is planned for completion in 2012.
This article was published in the Denver Post on February 6, 2011. To view the original publication, click here.