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Colorado Fracking Task Force Faces Big Task, Mixed Reception

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Having avoided an election filled with competing initiatives that were guaranteed to displease about half of the electorate, regardless of the outcome, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently created a task force to forge a path that both accommodates activist concerns, while ensuring that the state’s strong energy history continues. And while the task force likely faces some difficult days ahead, Hickenlooper used the right approach, according to two groups interesting in seeing the state maintain a balance between business and the environment and quality of life issues.

“We certainly see the task force as a genuine effort on our part to get thoughtful people to the table who are willing to downplay personal preferences and think about the best approach for the state of Colorado,” Todd Hartman, communications director at Colorado Department of Natural Resources, told Rigzone. “We know the task force has a tall order, and we’re confident well-intentioned participants will make an earnest effort to rise to it.”

Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) sees the issue similarly, and Jon Haubert, CRED’s director of communications, thinks that the process might present an educational opportunity for those with an interest in the issue.

“I don’t know if that will be one of the goals of the task force, but I hope it is. We always seem to come back to where we started, with the idea of the state making the recommendations. That is the most appropriate way, but people relatively new to the issue have to learn it,” Haubert told Rigzone.

A major goal of the task force is to ensure that Colorado does not slide into a patchwork of various energy restrictions that are decided by the different municipalities within the state, but has instead a set of state regulations allowing for continued exploration and production, while protecting the existing environment and quality of life.

A federal decision on energy exploration and production in the state would be too broad, since issues in one locale with a particular geology or terrain might not be applicable in another locale, Haubert said. However, continuing to leave the issue to each municipality within a state would prove too narrow, resulting in an unworkable hodge-podge of regulations that would not serve anyone well.

Six municipalities, including Lafayette, Boulder, Fort Collins, El Paso County, Loveland and Longmont, have already voted on fracking, and five of the six municipalities have voted to restrict it. The sixth, Loveland, voted in June to strike down a moratorium on fracking.


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Gene Lockard has more than a decade of journalism experience covering the energy and petrochemical industries. Email Gene at gene.lockard@rigzone.com.

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