‘Whose Colorado?’ fracking debate
Regarding the Nov. 5 Heart of the News article “Whose Colorado? Fracking debate pits families against industry”: I’m a geologist and a serious environmentalist who is opposed to many specific mining and extraction projects. That said, the proposed 2,500-foot setback is like banning cars because they kill people. You’ve missed a number of points in this story.
The majority of oil wells and fracking operations do not bother anyone, and existing regulations mitigate or resolve most problems. Unfortunately, in a large industry, there are always a few operators that ignore or stretch the rules, a few regulators that look the other way or are too overworked to handle everything, and a few things that go wrong in spite of everyone’s best efforts. This is unfortunate, but it is not justification for shutting down an industry.
The proposed setback has no scientific basis (why not 1000 feet or 5000 feet?), is too broad (it effectively and unnecessarily bans drilling in many areas where it would be welcomed), and is a knee-jerk reaction to a localized problem that could be solved in a less drastic way. The home explosion that you mention was caused by an abandoned pipeline; that problem won’t go away with this law and wouldn’t have happened if the line had been plugged according to existing regulations.
Also, what is not said is that some environmental groups are backing this proposed rule simply because they back anything that restricts oil and gas development and raises oil prices. I too would like to see our country wean itself from oil, but I’m opposed to doing it through false science and misleading claims.
Colin G. Treworgy
Response from science editor Noelle Swan:
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about Amanda Paulson’s article on Prop. 112. You raise some valid points about the scope of this proposition. The inclusion of the Colorado Springs mayor’s comments was intended to convey that perspective succinctly. It is always a challenge to balance competing perspectives on such politically charged debates. In this case, we have heard from Colorado residents on both sides of the issue wishing that we had made a stronger case for their point of view. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to give us your feedback.
Response from Colin Treworgy:
Thank you for your response. I reread the article, and I agree that the Colorado Springs mayor’s comments and the bullet points following it are a good, succinct summary of that side of the debate. I also wanted to clarify that the last sentence in my original email alleging false science and misleading claims was a comment on the arguments made by supporters of Prop. 112 and not a commentary on the Monitor’s reporting.
I loved the cover of the Nov. 12 Weekly Print Edition, which was a tongue-in-cheek updating of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.” Thanks!