Colorado is Fracking Crazy
Photo by Donald Giannatti
By Ian Nemelka
Remember when the cost of a gallon of gas was teetering between $5 to $6 dollars a gallon in many regions of the United States? Well it is largely due to the increased use of hydraulic shale fracturing (fracking) that gasoline remains relatively cheap and available today. Despite the energy revolution and cleaner air which has resulted from this innovative method of extraction, the state of Colorado seems intent on self-imposing an economic handicap.
Colorado’s Ballot Initiative 97 would “establish the minimum setback of oil and gas wells to 2,500 feet — from the current 500 feet for homes and 1,000 feet for schools.” These regulations would restrict new oil and gas drilling on over 80 percent of non-federal lands, making it nearly impossible to utilize hydraulic fracturing anywhere in the state.
Inspiration for the initiative has been attributed to the interest of environmental protection and human health and safety. This pressure has been met with skepticism from many authorities, including the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Despite no current major fracking incidents occurring within Colorado, state energy regulators continue to push the narrative that fracking is extremely dangerous. Several independent studies, including those published by the EPA, have concluded that safely operated fracking does not pose a serious threat to human health or environmental safety. It is important to protect the environment and wildlife, unfortunately this measure only hinders economic progress and does not serve this purpose.
The largest oversight in this initiative is the disregard for wide scale economic impact. Our team at Strata examined two states who have taken drastically different approaches to crafting fracking policy. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania have adopted policies that welcome the practice, and as a result have experienced significant economic benefits. In the bordering state of New York, lawmakers have banned fracking outright removing economic opportunity and stifling job growth, tax revenue, and investment.
Colorado’s oil and gas industry contributes upwards of $30 Billion to the state’s economy. If Implemented, Initiative 97 would cause Colorado to experience massive job and revenue loss while providing no environmental benefit. The communities these policies are meant to “help”, will lose skilled workers as they seek jobs in neighboring states, robbing Colorado of the original motive to implement these overzealous regulations in the first place. Fracking technology is bridging the philosophical gap between ecological responsibility and economic growth. Cheating citizens out of massive economic benefits with this inconclusive and potentially detrimental policy is like trying saving a toe by chopping off a leg.
Strata is committed to helping people make informed decisions about the issues that impact the freedom to live their lives.
Read our Strata reports and these other sources to learn more about the economic impact of fracking.