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  • 1. Why is energy development vital to Colorado’s economic prosperity?
     

    More than 110,000 Colorado jobs are supported by this industry and are at stake. In 2012, the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, released an assessment of the Oil and Gas Industry’s Economic and Fiscal Impacts in Colorado that found the oil and gas industry provided $29 billion in economic output annually. Read more about these economic impacts here.

    According to a March 2014 report from the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, a fracking ban would have catastrophic implications in Colorado. Their model showed, given a fracking ban beginning in 2015, the economic consequence would be an average $8 billion in lower gross domestic product (GDP) and 68,000 fewer jobs in the first five years. Moreover, a ban’s impact on production would leave Colorado jurisdictions with an average revenue loss of $567 million over the first five years. Read more about the REMI Model here.

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  • 2. How does the oil and gas industry affect me?
     

    According to the Energy Information Administration, as Coloradans we enjoy energy costs 20% lower than other states because of local production. Read more here.

    Our local schools and other government services also benefit from the industry’s taxes. In 2012, the industry contributed over $1.6 billion in public revenues, almost $500 million of which went to education. Click here to see exact figures.

    Lastly, but arguably most importantly, everyday items such as plastics and dyes to nail polish and aspirin are petroleum based. To find out how much energy a family of four uses, click here.

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  • 3. Why is shale gas important and what is fracking?
     

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory: “Natural gas use is distributed across several sectors of the economy. It is an important energy source for the industrial, commercial and electrical generation sectors, and also serves a vital role in residential heating. Although forecasts vary in their outlook for future demand for natural gas, they all have one thing in common: natural gas will continue to play a significant role in the U.S. energy picture for some time to come.”

    Read about modern shale development and fracking technology here.

    • 2011 MIT Study on Fracking here.
    • 2004 EPA Study on Fracking here.

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  • 4. Is fracking moving the United States toward energy independence?
     

    The answer is an undisputed, yes. According to Bloomberg, “Taking into account all energy sources, including natural gas, petroleum, nuclear and renewables, the U.S. met 86 percent of its needs in the first eight months of 2013, on pace to be the highest annual rate since 1986, EIA data show.” Read more here.

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  • 5. Who regulates this industry?
     

    The Oil and Gas Conservation Act governs oil and gas development in Colorado. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is responsible for promulgating rules to regulate oil and gas development in Colorado. The oil and gas industry is subject to numerous federal laws as well.

    Colorado’s oil and gas rules are continually referred to as the strongest in the nation. Detailed rules can be found here, but here are some of examples of how industry regulations have been tightened over the years:

    • In 2008 COGCC rules were overhauled, including changes to the make-up of the state’s oil and gas regulatory and health agencies to include specific voices to advocate for environmental, conservation, wildlife and public health values.
    • In December 2011, the COGCC passed a Hydraulic Fracturing Disclosure Rule that requires public disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Disclosures are available to the public at www.Fracfocus.org
    • In January 2013, the COGCC approved the most rigorous statewide mandatory groundwater sampling and monitoring rules in the United States, which includes sampling before, during and after a well has been completed.
    • In February 2013, the COGCC voted to approve new setback rules to mitigate perceived effects of drilling near buildings. The rules increase setback distances for all oil and gas locations within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings. The rules also enhance notice to and communication with building owners within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings.
    • In 2014, Colorado became the first state to regulate methane as it pertains to oil and gas operations. At the time, Environmental Defense Fund Director Dan Grossman said “These rules show we can make good progress toward realizing the climate benefits of natural gas and demonstrate that oil and gas development and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive.”
    • Additionally in 2014, HB 1356 updated the current COGCC fine structure, increasing oil and gas fines by over 1500%.

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  • 6. I’m interested in learning more about how this industry affects air and water, where should I go?
     

    In Colorado, COGCC rules are continually reviewed and updated. Additionally several peer reviewed studies have looked at the impact of industry on air and water.

    Peer Reviewed Studies Focused on Air:

    • “Pathway Analysis and Risk Assessment for Solids and Fluids Used in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production in Colorado” – Quality Environmental Professional Associates, June 2008
    • “Town of Erie Air Quality Toxicology Assessment” – Pinyon Environmental, 2012
    • “Review of the potential public health impacts of exposures to chemical and radioactive pollutants as a result of the shale gas extraction” – Public Health England, October 2013
    • “Northeastern Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Short-term Ambient Air Sampling Report” – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania & Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), 2011
    • “DISH, Texas Exposure Investigation” – Texas Department of State Health Services (TxDSHS) – May 12, 2010
    • “Air Emissions Case Study Related to Oil and Gas Development in Erie, Colorado” – Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, December 2012
    • “Community Health Risk Analysis of Oil and Gas Industry Impacts in Garfield County” – Saccomanno Research Institute & Mesa State College, 2008
    • “Noise, Light, Dust, Volatile Organic Compounds Generated by the Drilling of Horizontal Wells Related to the Well Location Restriction Regarding Occupied Dwelling Structures” – West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Office of Oil and Gas, 2012
    • “The greenhouse impact of unconventional gas for electricity generation” – University of Maryland, Nathan Hultman, Dylan Rebois, Michael Scholten and Christopher Ramig, 2011
    • “Shale gas production: potential versus actual greenhouse gas emissions” – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Francis O’Sullivan and Sergey Paltsev, November 2012
    • “A commentary on “The greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas in shale formations” by R.W. Howarth, R. Santoro, and Anthony Ingraffea” – Cornell University, Lawrence M. Cathles, Larry Brown, Milton Taam & Andrew Hunter
    • “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Natural Gas Extraction, Delivery and Electricity Production” – National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) & U.S. Department of Energy, 2011
    • “Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity” – Joint Institute of Strategic Energy Alliance and National Renewable Energy Labs, 2011

    Peer-Reviewed Studies Focused on Water

    • “Pathway Analysis and Risk Assessment for Solids and Fluids Used in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production in Colorado” – Quality Environmental Professional Associates, June 2008
    • “Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development” – University of Texas Austin, 2012
    • “The Impact of Marcellus Gas Drilling on Rural Drinking Water Supplies” – Pennsylvania State University, 2011

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  • 7. Are there any seismic concerns with fracking?
     

    Seismologist Cliff Frohlich from the University of Texas has said: “Human activity associated with oil and gas production can sometimes cause earthquakes, but the problem is not hydraulic fracturing.”

    Read more about seismology here and here.

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  • 8. Has the federal government weighed in on this issue?
     

    Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz has said: “I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater.” – August 2013

    Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell stated: “Fracking has been done safely for decades.” – May 2013

    EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy even agrees: “There’s nothing inherently dangerous in fracking that sound engineering practices can’t accomplish.”  – November 2013

    President Barak Obama has also weighed in, saying: “We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it… [T]he natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence.” – February 2013 State of the Union Address

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  • 9. Where can I go for additional information?
     

    Looking for more resources and information on fracking? Check out these links below.

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