Guest column

Facts, science should drive fracking debate

Column by Jeff Wasden
Posted

For the past few years we've seen environmental activists take a greater role within Colorado communities and impose ideologically extreme agendas onto local residents. Fear mongering and distorting the facts are their specialty, and many locals don't see what's happening until it is too late.

Alarmist claims by activist groups have led to oil and gas drilling moratoriums that are passed out of panic and based on opinion, not science. These extremists don't care if they put people out of work and send Colorado into an economic recession. Fractivists, as they have come to be known, would have the public believe that the jury is still out on whether the process of hydraulic fracturing is safe. If you're someone who doesn't believe in science and still thinks the earth is flat, than this may seem like a reasonable perspective. For the rest of us, however, it is simply impossible to ignore the facts.

Fact: over one million wells have been safely fracked in the U.S. since 1947. Fracking takes place a mile below the surface and thousands of feet below Colorado's drinking water table. Several layers of cement and steel are used to protect groundwater sources, and fracking fluid is 99.5 percent water and sand. Oil and gas companies work with engineers, wildlife biologists, geologists and environmental experts before a well is ever fracked. This is to ensure that the health and safety of the environment and local residents is protected. EPA administrator Gina McCarthy even told the Boston Globe "there is nothing inherently dangerous about fracking."

The leaders of the anti-fracking movement sweeping through Colorado don't care about any of that. A simple Google search will show that their true intentions are actually hidden from every day Coloradans.

Former Erie Mayor Joe Wilson told The Daily Camera in 2012 that he believed the town's board of trustees was given false information on air quality before voting on a 180-day moratorium on new oil and gas development. Erie town officials ended up commissioning their own air quality studies, which proved there was no danger.

As environmentalists work to ban fracking in our state, I urge voters to get all the facts before making a decision. Coloradans have the right to hold oil and gas companies accountable and make sure they're following all the rules. This is part of the deal - you drill in our backyard, and we hold your feet to fire. What we don't need are roaming bands of fractivists muddying up this issue with insincere hysterics and outright lies.

Colorado is host to some of the most well-educated residents in the nation. Thirty-second sound bites have rendered some of the brightest among us to believe half-truths and distortions. Please do not make this important issue one of those times where you are swayed by those that would like to see this industry shut down.

Do your research and realize that while this industry no more deserves a free pass than any other, they also deserve the ability to provide energy here in America, reduce our foreign dependence, and create good, stable, well-paying jobs for Coloradans.

Jeff Wasden, a Highlands Ranch resident, is president of the Colorado Business Roundtable and sits on the board of Vital For Colorado, a group of business leaders working to promote the benefits of energy production in the State of Colorado.