Does fracking pollute drinking water?
No. The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have never found a case of underground water contamination due to fracking. (Sources: U.S. Department of Energy/Groundwater Protection Council, Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission)
Yet, if if the right steps to seal cement wells are not taken it can adversely impact water quality and pressure. Thankfully, Colorado has some of the toughest and most stringent environmental rules and regulations in the country and the industry continues to invest in new technology to further improve the process and keep Colorado safe.
Does Colorado prohibit water pollution?
Yes. Under Rule 324A, Colorado strictly prohibits pollution of water from oil and natural gas drilling. To keep water safe, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) implemented the following rules:
- Before a well is ever drilled, oil and natural gas producers must apply for a permit with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which then consults with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDHPE) to determine whether the well meets specific structural guidelines.
- Wells that pass through the water table must be encased in multiple layers of protective, industrial-grade steel casing, which is surrounded by cement to ensure separation and protection.
- Colorado is the only state that requires groundwater sampling before and after drilling operations.
Does fracking fluid mix with drinking water?
No. Drinking water aquifers are around 450 to 700 feet beneath the earth’s surface and are separated by a mile or more of solid, impermeable rock from the oil and natural gas-bearing rock formations located deeper than 6,000 feet below the surface. This natural barrier prevents fracking fluid from accessing potable water supplies. (Source: Colorado Geological Survey)
Does fracking drain Colorado’s water supply?
No. According to the Department of Water Resources and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, fracking accounts for 0.1% of total statewide water usage. Additionally, to conserve water, companies have incentives to implement best practices to recycle and reuse water in fracking operations. (Source: Colorado Division of Water Resources)
Can water used during fracking be recycled?
Yes. After treating water produced during fracking, the oil and natural gas industry often reuses this water for future operations to reduce water consumption.
Where does the oil and gas industry get water for fracking?
Colorado laws strictly govern water usage to prevent depletion of its water supply. In conjunction with these rules, oil and gas producers can obtain water from:
- Out-of state resources
- Changed water rights
- Municipal lease/purchase
- Non-tributary groundwater (requires a permit and landowner agreement)
- Recycled produced water
(Source: Colorado Division of Water Resources)
No. Studies conducted in Colorado by the EPA, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado State University and University of Colorado all conclude that air emissions associated with fracking are below EPA air quality thresholds established to protect public health. (Source: Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission)
Does Colorado regulate air quality?
Yes. Colorado is leading the way in air pollution regulations. Recently, the oil and natural gas industry worked with Governor John Hickenlooper (D) and environmental groups to pass first-in-the-nation rules that will make Colorado the first state to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas operations. These rules will eliminate an estimated 92,000 tons of pollutants a year and protect public health. (Source: Colorado.gov)
Who enforces air quality laws in Colorado?
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment-Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) is responsible for ensuring that oil and natural gas operations comply with federal and state air quality laws and regulations. The APCD administers rules that have been developed and approved by the EPA and Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (CAQCC). Additionally, oil and natural gas producers must comply with air quality requirements enforced by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and local counties and communities. (Sources: Colorado Oil & Gas Association, The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment-Air Pollution Control Division, Colorado Air Quality Control Commission)
How do I know that these regulations are working?
Colorado measures levels of criteria pollutants 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week and this information is available to the public. Visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment-Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) website for air quality forecasts and indexes.
Does fracking cause climate change?
No. Fracking has helped curb U.S. carbon dioxide emissions—the most potent greenhouse gas—by increasing the supply of clean-burning natural gas. In fact, many environmentalists support fracking. Here is why:
- Curb carbon dioxide levels to a nearly 20-year low in 2012. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration)
- Cut overall greenhouse gas emissions since 2007.
Do environmentalists support fracking?
Yes, many environmentalists support fracking because it complements renewable energy and has helped cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to a nearly 20-year low. (Source: Centre for Policy Studies)
Does fracking cause earthquakes?
The short answer is no. Whether it’s a hydroelectric dam, geothermal power plant, coal mine or an oil and gas well, most forms of energy production and just about every kind of construction have the potential to shake the ground. But when it comes to the hydraulic fracturing process, the nation’s leading scientists have closely studied the potential earthquake risk and concluded it’s extremely low. In fact, one of country’s top geophysicists says the amount of seismic energy released during hydraulic fracturing is “extremely small” and about the same as “a gallon of milk falling off a kitchen counter.” (Sources: Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies, 2012; National Research Council,U.S. Senate Testimony of Stanford University Geophysics Professor Mark Zoback, 2012)
Does fracking disrupt the land?
No energy resource – whether it’s oil, gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, or geothermal –comes without an impact. The question Coloradans have to ask themselves is, which energy resource has the smallest environmental impact and can be produced at a reasonable cost for consumers?
Fracking, combined with horizontal drilling, limits land disturbance by allowing multiple wells to be located in a single location. Additionally, after a well is fracked, companies reclaim the landscape and return it to pre-drilling conditions. (Source: Cornell University)
Can recreation, agriculture, and oil and natural gas production co-exist?
Yes. With more than 10,000 oil and natural gas wells drilled in western Colorado over the past several years, recreational, agricultural and tourism economy continues to thrive alongside energy production.
How important to Colorado is oil and natural gas development on public lands?
In 2012, the oil and natural gas industry generated $1.6 billion in revenue–$81.5 million of which went to a trust fund administered by the Department of Natural Resources to help conserve parks, wildlife, land and water.(Source: Leeds School of Business University of Colorado Boulder)
Colorado’s lands are regulated both at the federal and state level.
- The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages and implements strict regulations over approximately 37% of all lands in Colorado.
- At the state level, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is the main state agency that oversees fracking.
- In addition to the COGCC, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and local governments play an important role in keeping lands safe during the fracking process. (Source: Colorado Oil & Gas Association, Colorado Petroleum Association, Western Energy Alliance, and America’s Natural Gas Alliance)
How do we know regulations are being enforced?
The COGCC works with STRONGER (State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations) to audit the effectiveness of oil and natural gas regulations. STRONGER makes these audits available to the public. (Source: Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission)