We encourage you to get the facts about Colorado oil and natural gas development. We’ve compiled the following resources and mythbusters from a variety of objective sources.

FACT: The Environmental Protection Agency’s six-year, $33 million study found nothing to suggest that fracking is a serious risk to groundwater. 

In the last few years, 26 other independent studies – including one from Colorado State University – have found that fracking doesn’t contaminate groundwater.

Fracking occurs thousands of feet below underground freshwater supplies, separated by thick layers of impermeable rock. Colorado state law requires that each oil and natural gas well be encased with multiple separate layers of steel and cement to ensure that fracking fluid does not penetrate past the wellbore into drinking water sources. The steel and cement are regularly tested for integrity.

Drinking water sources are also tested throughout different stages of well development, including before and after fracking. 

FACT:  Fracking fluid consists of 99.5 percent water and sand, and 0.5 percent chemical additives which help increase production. Most of these additives are also found in common household items such as toothpaste or hand soap, or in the foods that we eat.

Sand is pumped with the fluid to prop open tiny hairline fractures that allow the oil and natural gas to flow, while the additives help reduce friction and prevent bacteria growth, among other benefits.

The State of Colorado requires that oil and natural gas producers disclose ALL chemicals and concentrations to state regulators. Visit FracFocus.org for more information.

FACT: Local and federal government resources point to the fact that Colorado has some of the strictest oil and gas regulations in the country.

Colorado’s energy industry has a history of working together with Colorado state officials, environmental groups and community leaders to continuously improve operations and regulations.

  • Our state’s strong energy regulations require companies to work with local governments when planning oil and natural gas development to ensure the safety of the public and the environment.
  • Current setback distances at 500 and 1,000 feet keep the environment and communities surrounding oil and natural gas development sites safe, while fostering economic prosperity in Colorado.
  • Colorado was the first state to require water sampling before and after drilling to ensure our water remains safe (Source: COGCC approves sweeping new setback rules, COGCC press releases, 1/9/13)
  • In the last few years, 26 studies – including one from Colorado State University – have found that fracking doesn’t contaminate groundwater (Source: All studies listed here)
  • Colorado was the first state in the nation to pass methane regulations requiring the capture of air pollutants released during oil and natural gas operations (Source: Colorado Becomes First State To Restrict Methane Emissions, NPR, 2/25/2014)
  • Colorado’s regulations are more protective than federal methane rules issued by the EPA. Cutting-edge technology and strict regulations have cut leakage rates by 75% in Colorado, according to Climate Wire (Source: Colorado’s Successful Methane Emissions Program is a Gas to Congress, Newsweek, 2/8/17.)
  • Colorado rules require that 95% of methane pollutants from oil and natural gas operations are captured, which decreases methane emissions by over 60,000 tons (Source: Colorado First State to Limit Methane Pollution from Oil and Gas Wells, E&E News, 2/25/14)
  • In early 2018, the State of Colorado adopted the most comprehensive rules addressing oil and gas flowlines and infrastructure in the nation, once again demonstrating Colorado’s commitment to maintaining a strong regulatory environment.

FACT: Setbacks don’t prevent construction of homes near wells.

The explosion in Firestone last year was a tragedy, but would not have been prevented with increased buffer zones. That’s because setback regulations do not prevent new homes from being built next to oil and gas natural development – as was the case with the Firestone incident.  

This one-way application of the increased setback distance proves this measure was only written to ban oil and gas development, not make it safer.

Following Firestone, the State reacted quickly. Under orders from Gov. Hickenlooper and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), an inspection and testing program was immediately launched covering flowlines across the state. Results show 99.65 percent passed the inspection and the remainder were repaired, sealed off or removed.

A major flowline rulemaking followed, including ongoing testing and mapping data provided to the state’s 811 “call before you dig” program. This led the State of Colorado to adopt the most comprehensive rules addressing oil and gas flowlines and infrastructure in the nation, once again demonstrating Colorado’s commitment to maintaining a strong regulatory environment.

Governor Hickenlooper said, “I am not aware of another state that has this caliber of flowline data. We’re spending millions of dollars to do everything we can to make sure it never happens again.”

FACT: The oil and natural gas industry helps employ Coloradans in numerous industries, including teachers and health care workers.

According to an independent study by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable, eliminating oil and gas development in Colorado would eliminate up to 150,000 jobs (43,000 in the first year alone).

FACT:  In 2018, a health effects assessment conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)  confirmed previous findings of low risk for cancer and non-cancer health effects at distances 500 feet and greater.

The CDPHE Oil and Gas Health Information and Response program collected extensive air sampling measurements in multiple communities near different oil and gas activities using their mobile laboratory to conduct their assessment and their 2017 study.

FACT: Two recent studies prove nearly 150,000 Coloradans would be out of work if the oil and gas industry didn’t operate in Colorado:

  • An independent study by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable
  • An assessment by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)

The Common Sense Policy Roundtable’s study utilized a tool endorsed by MIT to analyze the economic impacts on the state if oil and gas were no longer developed in Colorado, including:

  • The loss of up to $217 billion in economic activity
  • The loss of up to $9 billion in tax revenue

In addition, a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission assessment found that more than 85 percent of the state’s non-federal land would be placed off-limits to new oil and natural gas development should the 2,500-foot setback pass. This would effectively ban development of the energy that fuels the daily lives of all of us in Colorado.

Using that, the Common Sense Policy Roundtable conducted its study using the most sophisticated economic model in the country to find that passage of Proposition 112 would result in the loss of up to 150,000 Colorado jobs by 2030. The study also shows that Proposition 112 would reduce state and local tax revenue between $825 million and $1.1 billion annually during that same timeframe, including money for:

  • Education
  • Law enforcement
  • And other critical infrastructure.

The Colorado Alliance of Mineral and Royalty Owners (CAMRO) commissioned its own study that found that increasing setbacks to 2,500 feet would strand $180 billion worth of resources, costing mineral rights owners as much at $26 billion.

These are a few reasons why Democratic Denver Mayor Michael Hancock recently announced his opposition to Prop 112 based on his belief that it would “irreparably harm” Colorado’s economy.

The Weld County Board of County Commissioners also recently voted unanimously to oppose Proposition 112, based largely on the fact that “the devastating economic impacts (out-of-state activists groups) will leave behind if they succeed” in passing Proposition 112. A coalition of 14 Weld County mayors has also formally opposed Prop 112, with Greeley Mayor John Gates noting, “It strikes me that the current governor and both gubernatorial candidates are against 112. People on opposite ends of the political spectrum say this is bad for Colorado. Is there a risk, yes, but there is risk to walking across the street. To me it’s important that we have a thriving economy.”

FACT: State revenue from Colorado oil and gas increases per-student funding.

In Weld County, alone, school districts face a $45 million shortfall from lower property taxes in the first year. And that would rise to more than $100 million within a few years. The state would redirect education equalization funding from all other school districts to backfill some of this shortfall.

Meanwhile, personal income is projected to decline as people lose jobs – reducing personal income taxes paid to the state by nearly $1 billion average per year, stretching state funding even further.

In addition, the State Land Board which manages state lands to generate money for schools stated Proposition 112 would cost the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) school construction program more than $230 million over three years – a problem that gets worse over time, not better.

Sources: Weld County Assessor, Common Sense Policy Roundtable, Colorado State Land Board

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