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As the DOJ tries a rare direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on DACA, a new report says border patrol agents have been vandalizing water left for migrants; also, on today's rundown a labor dispute in Minnesota could affect Super Bowl week; and the Interior decision nears on sage-grouse plans.

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Does Overturning Fracking Rule Put Colorado Water at Risk?

A 2018 ballot initiative gaining steam in Colorado seeks to establish larger buffer zones between oil and gas development and water sources. (Pixabay)
A 2018 ballot initiative gaining steam in Colorado seeks to establish larger buffer zones between oil and gas development and water sources. (Pixabay)
January 8, 2018

DENVER – Environmental groups in Colorado say they'll double down on efforts to protect the state's water supplies after the Trump administration rolled back standards for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on public lands.

The U.S. Interior Department has reversed rules that would have required companies to disclose the chemicals they add to water pumped deep into shale formations to release oil and gas.

Micah Parkin, executive director of the environmental group 350 Colorado, says these sorts of protections are important for public health.

"If and when there are leaks, we would like to know what the chemicals that the companies are using contain, so you know how to at least try to remediate, how far to keep the public [away], and what sort of damage may have been inflicted," she states.

A 2016 Stanford University report confirmed that fracking led to toxic chemicals seeping into drinking water in Wyoming.

In reviewing the Obama-era standards, which also call for stronger well construction and safer wastewater disposal, the Interior Department decided the cost of compliance, at nearly $10,000 per well, wasn't justified.

The American Petroleum Institute also felt the rules would slow up permits in states, including Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Parkin notes that speeding up drilling operations won't help slow climate change. She points to research showing that in order to keep average global temperatures at safe levels, 80 percent of known fossil fuel reserves can't be extracted, burned and released into the atmosphere.

"So we need to be taking really fast action, right now at this point in history, to shift away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy,” she stresses. “A huge part of that means leaving fossil fuels in the ground in many locations."

Fracking is the only industry allowed to inject toxic chemicals into underground sources of drinking water, after Congress exempted it from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005.

Parkin says a statewide ballot initiative aiming for the 2018 elections would force companies in Colorado to keep drilling operations at least 2,500 feet away from drinking water sources.


Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO