As oil and gas drilling continues its march into more populated areas, there’s growing pressure on Colorado lawmakers to wade into a thorny battle escalating between the state and many local governments. Several bills that would give cities and counties more authority to regulate the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing are likely to be debated this session, even though it’s long been viewed as the state’s regulatory jurisdiction. KUNC’s Kirk Siegler reports on a series of tangled court rulings that got us to this point.
Hydraulic fracturing wells have been producing a tremendous amount of natural gas — far more than the current demand. Above, a Cabot Oil & Gas natural gas drill at a fracking site in South Montrose, Pa.
The practice of hydraulic fracturing — pumping fluid into underground rock to push up natural gas — has its detractors, especially among environmentalists. But it's becoming clear that whatever its drawbacks, "fracking," as it's called, is producing a lot of gas — maybe too much gas.
Fracking was once a small part of the natural gas industry, a technique to get hard-to-reach deposits in underground shale. Then the technology improved, and the dinner bell rang. Everybody wanted in. Now there's so much gas on the market that the price is at a 10-year low.
President Obama called for more domestic oil and gas production, saying that "a future where we're in control of our own energy" is within reach, where the nation's security and prosperity would not be so closely linked to unstable parts of the world.
Toward that end, he said his administration would open more than 75 percent of potential offshore oil and gas resources for development.
The president stressed that the country already has progressed toward energy independence and used less foreign oil last year "than in any of the past 16 years."
Matt Jones (D) Colorado State Representative, District 12
Credit Colorado House Democrats
A state lawmaker plans to introduce legislation as early as this week that would give local governments more authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing, a move that comes as many local governments have looked to limit or temporarily ban fracking within their boundaries.