Broomfield Enterprise letter to the editor: Disputing claims on fracking, groundwater

A recent letter to the editor tries to revive the thoroughly debunked claim that hydraulic fracturing threatens farms and ranches, and by extension, people.

This claim comes directly from a paper released last year by Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald, which has been widely criticized for inaccuracy. Dr. Ian Rae, co-chair of the Chemicals Technical Options Committee for the United Nations Environment Programme, said the paper is "an advocacy piece" and that the authors themselves "cannot be regarded as experts" in the field. Bamberger and Oswald even admitted that their study "is not an epidemiologic analysis of the health effects of gas drilling."

So what have legitimate analyses of the health effects of gas drilling found? The U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Groundwater Protection Council, MIT and numerous Obama administration officials have found no evidence to support the claim that hydraulic fracturing contaminates groundwater.

And, thanks to increased development of natural gas, air pollution has been slashed, which is a boon for public health. The Energy Information Administration has declared that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest in almost 20 years. That's a result of the use of hydraulic fracturing, which has led to lower natural gas prices.

In Colorado, regulators and oil and gas operators work together to ensure that Colorado's air quality is protected. According to the director of the state of Colorado's Air Pollution Control Division, "Colorado has been at the forefront of regulating air emissions from oil and gas operations for many years, and has a comprehensive regulatory framework." He also notes that "(D)espite the growth of oil and gas emission sources in Colorado, over the past decade we have seen decreases in the levels of many organic pollutants associated with oil and gas operations." Colorado oil and gas emissions are regulated, and those regulations are clearly working.

In fact, every aspect of oil and gas production is regulated by overlapping layers of state and federal laws. The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently confirmed hydraulic fracturing's regulation under federal law, stating "As with conventional oil and gas development, requirements from eight federal environmental and public health laws apply to unconventional oil and gas development."

Mr. Fuller rightly states that "Farmers need clean air, clean water and clean soil to produce healthy food." Fortunately, responsible oil and gas development is right in line with those needs, which is why farmers and ranchers are some of our industry's strongest supporters.

Courtney Loper,

Denver-based field director, Energy in Depth, an industry trade group of the Independent Petroleum Association of America

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