By Michael Kelly, Director of Online Communications
We’re used to a little booster-ism from our elected officials for the industries and causes they support (see all the wild and varying claims about the hundreds of thousands of jobs that could be created by the XL Pipeline). It’s what they do. But we normally don’t expect that enthusiasm to include false statements. Especially from a politician who has been an ally in the fight against fracking.
That’s why we were so surprised and disappointed when we heard Governor Hickenlooper’s radio ad for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), the lead industry trade group. Colorado’s Governor lends his voice to the ad which claims, that since 2008, “we have not had one instance of groundwater contamination associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing.” This is simply untrue and it’s easily proved. The Governor may have helped Colorado implement the strictest fracking fluid disclosure laws in the nation, but he’s doing a huge disservice to the state when he falsely claims that groundwater has not been contaminated by fracking spills.
We looked at the latest COGCC “Spills and Releases” report from 2011 and analyzed the 615 incidents in just Weld County (Weld County has the highest concentration of wells of any county in the Country). It covered January 2008 – January 2012 and we found that 44% of the spills have impact or contaminated groundwater and 2.8% of the spills have impacted surface water. This is just one county for one four year period. The same four year period for which the Governor claimed no spills had contaminated ground water.
These reports are publicly available on COGCC’s website. Anyone can access them and find out that incidents involving fracking do contaminate ground and surface water. In fact, even more evidence is available from a Denver Post analysis of state records for 2011. It found 58 cases of groundwater pollution linked to spills and releases. Another Denver Post analysis of accidental spills dating back to 2008 found an even larger number of groundwater incidents. It makes you wonder what Governor Hickenlooper was talking about.
We appreciate what the Governor did to bring transparency to the chemicals used to frack wells and his leadership to protect our water. But lending his voice to this misleading ad slows our progress. It’s time for Colorado’s “fix-it” Governor to fix this problem and urge COGA to remove the ad so we can focus on what we need to do safeguard our water from fracking.