Fracking and Oil in Colorado

There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about oil development in Colorado and concern about a technique called hydraulic fracturing or fracking. This technique uses a specially blended liquid which is pumped into a well under extreme pressure causing cracks in rock formations underground. These cracks in the rock then allow oil and natural gas to flow, increasing resource production. There is growing concern that hydraulic fracturing can lead to groundwater contamination. The process has been receiving a lot of attention due to increased drilling activity in the Denver Basin over the last few years. The latest issue of “Rock Talk” from the Colorado Geological Survey gives a nice overview: “Colorado’s New Oil Boom –the Niobrara.” The COGCC also has put together a great site on hydraulic fracturing information for public review.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has been monitoring the effects of oil and gas development on groundwater for many years. Many studies have shown that although some wells in the vicinity of active oil and gas rigs contain methane and other chemicals, the origin of the chemicals was from a completely different source than from the nearby oil wells. The reports are available online from the COGCC library. Reports focusing on the Denver Julesburg Basin as well as other areas of Colorado are included.

The Legislative Council Staff have published an Issue Brief on hydraulic fracturing that gives background information, and details current laws and regulations surrounding the issue.

Samantha Hager
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