Colorado May Vote to Limit Fracking in Residential Areas

by admin on July 27, 2018

The “front range” in eastern Colorado is residential

Colorado’s leap into the shale boom sparks a ballot box threat

By Alex Nussbaum and Catherine Traywick, World Oil, 7/23/2018

NEW YORK and DENVER (Bloomberg) — For Colorado shale drillers, 2018’s been a record-setter for pumping oil and natural gas. It may also end up a banner year for the industry’s political foes.

Spurred on by a fatal gas explosion last year, industry critics are pushing an initiative for November’s ballot that may ban drilling in more than half the state, endangering output from one of the country’s most prolific drilling plays. The contest for governor, meanwhile, features a Democrat, U.S. Representative Jared Polis, who made his name in Colorado politics by bankrolling anti-fracking campaigns.

The contests could mark a turning point in the long-running battle over drilling in Colorado, a politically mixed state where explorers, environmentalists and local residents have clashed as in few other places. With polls showing a “blue wave” of support for Democrats nationwide, Polis and the ballot initiative both stand a good chance, leaving the industry’s future up in the air, according to Height Securities LLC.

“The November election in Colorado is likely an inflection point for the state’s oil and gas industry,” Height analysts Katie Bays and Josh Prico wrote in a July 11 research note. That could have “market-moving consequences” for producers with a major Colorado presence like Noble Energy, Extraction Oil & Gas Inc. and Anadarko Petroleum, they said.

As a counterpunch, business groups have pitched their own set of ballot questions that would require property owners be compensated for any loss in the market value of drilling rights due to new regulations. That could hobble local government efforts to clamp down, said Welles Fitzpatrick, an analyst for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc.

All the initiatives face an August 6th deadline to gather enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. For voters here, the controversy is nothing new.

Advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have propelled Colorado into the upper echelon of oil and gas producers nationwide — and run smack into the growing population in the Denver suburbs and the Front Range region along the Rockies. The state produced a record 450,000 bpd of crude in April and 149 billion cu ft of natural gas, just shy of the all-time high, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

The industry’s biggest worry this year is Initiative 97, a proposal to expand the buffer zone required between oil and gas wells and homes, schools and other occupied structures. The initiative would mandate a 2,500-foot setback, up from 500 ft today.

More significantly, it would extend the requirement to cover lakes, streams, parks, open space and a variety of other “vulnerable areas.” Altogether, more than 54% of the state’s land area would be off-limits to new drilling, according to an analysis by the state Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. In Colorado’s top five producing counties, 61% of acreage would be inaccessible.

“That is effectively a ban on the industry,” Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, an industry group, said in an interview. “You’d basically have no new wells drilled in Colorado.”

A similar proposal in 2016 failed to gain enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. But 2018 may be different, in part due to last year’s fatal accident in Firestone, north of Denver. Two men died and a woman was injured in a home explosion that was linked to an abandoned gas line.

The tragedy “made people understand the dangers of having toxic, industrial oil and gas operations right in the middle of our neighborhoods,” said Micah Parkin of Colorado Rising, a group backing Initiative 97. “Why should the industry get special treatment?”

The proposal wouldn’t end drilling in Colorado, Parkin said. Federal land, which covers about a third of the state, would be exempt from the buffers. And explorers can drill horizontal wells, allowing access to reserves even if the property directly above is off-limits, she said.

Even if the measure wins approval, the state’s legislature could still move to soften the blow. Republicans who’ve generally opposed more regulation of the industry have a slim majority in the state Senate, although that too could change after November’s election.

Energy and natural resources generated more than $13 billion and supported 150,000 jobs in Colorado last year, according to state figures. Initiative 97 is enough of a threat that even Polis, the Democrat who’s championed past drilling restrictions, has come out against it.

The millionaire businessman from Boulder helped finance campaigns in 2014 to tighten regulations on fracking, although they failed to make it onto the ballot. This time around, he’s dialed down some of his criticism as he seeks support across the state. His website trumpets his plans to generate 100% of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2040. But it makes no mention of fracking, pro or con. Polis declined a request for an interview.

His Republican opponent, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, also opposes Initiative 97. His website promises he’ll promote a “low-cost energy supply” and avoid “burdensome, job-killing regulations.”

Polis led Stapleton among likely voters, 42% to 37%, in a June poll commissioned by a Colorado labor union. The Democrat understands the state can’t afford to undermine the industry, said Fitzpatrick, the SunTrust analyst.

“He has had his come-to-Jesus moment where he can either pick his crusade against oil and gas or he can pick every other pillar in his platform,” he said. “Is he going to shoot himself in the foot because he doesn’t like oil and gas? I find that hard to believe.”


Fracking is dangerous and not a vote-getter in New York State

Editorial, Hudson Valley (NY) Times-Herald Record, July 25, 2018

Politicians should not talk about things they don’t understand. Case in point — Republican Marc Molinaro’s support of hydraulic fracturing in New York as part of what he calls a “closely monitored” test program in the Southern Tier.

You know why he is doing this. The person most often associated with the state’s fracking ban is Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his Democratic opponent in this year’s election. For those who do not want to look too deeply into the issue, fracking has always been an attractive bright shiny object, offering energy independence and revenue with manageable environmental challenges.

In truth, it is very hard to frack without having many serious detrimental effects, including earthquakes and water pollution.

The state Health Department made the plausible case in 2014 that there was no way to provide adequate safeguards based on experiences in other states. Since then, the state’s focus has been on a shift to renewable resources, to investments in solar, air and hydro that would take the place of plants fed by any fossil fuels, including the gas that fracking produces. Investing in one means not investing in the other.

Molinaro is misleading people, and perhaps misleading himself, if he believes that a small-scale experimental operation would provide any information that would be relevant to fracking on a scale that might make economic sense.

The danger from fracking does not come from a few sites located far away from populated areas. It comes from the enormous impact that industrial-scale fracking has on the underground aquifers vulnerable to pollution. It comes in the well-documented dangers to wells and other local water supplies that those aquifers supply. And it come in even more dangerous forms in the need to create a massive infrastructure to treat the millions and millions of gallons of wastewater that fracking requires to break rock layers far below ground and then bring the fuels up.

A small convoy of tanker trucks might be able to cart away that waste water from a small experimental site. But for fracking to be worthwhile to those who want to invest, the scale would have to be enlarged to the point where treating the wastewater would be prohibitively expensive.

The Southern Tier, where Molinaro would try this experiment, is too densely populated to allow any room for error and as the number of sites increases, so do the potential detrimental effects.

Having studied and voted on this issue when he was in the Legislature, Molinaro knows or should know all this. That indicates that the proposal is more political than anything else, an attempt to get votes from those who are dissatisfied with Cuomo over the fracking ban. But those people already are not inclined to re-elect the governor, making this a wasted effort that only exposes Molinaro’s desperation as polls show him so far behind that he is not likely to catch up and donors reading those polls hold back, leaving him at even more of a disadvantage.

It’s still early, but so far the main component of Molinaro’s campaign seems to be that his is not Andrew Cuomo, something all of us already knew.

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KDKA Radio July 28, 2018 at 10:43 am

Karen Harbert: President & CEO Of The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute

Karen Harbert in Pittsburgh to Give Opening Remarks at the “Forge the Future” Conference

From the Mike Pentak Show, KDKA Radio, July 25, 2018

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Marcellus Shale coalition, the Pittsburgh Chamber and many other labor leaders and energy companies gathered together at a conference this morning to discuss the “Forge the Future” project, which is an initiative with Peoples Gas and Chevron to determine the economic potential in Pennsylvania.

Karen Harbert the President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute spoke at the conference this morning before joining Ellis Cannon on The Mike Pintek Show.

Harbert tells The Mike Pintek Show, “The conference and discussion are based on an advanced energy enabled economy. Everyone knows Pennsylvania is sitting on untold amounts of natural gas, so what does Pennsylvania need to do to really capitalize on this abundant resource to propel Pennsylvania and the region’s economy forward.”

Harbert added, “In the year 2018, the U.S. is the number one producer of oil and gas in the world.”

“We are now in a position to export our natural gas and oil all around the world while satisfying more of our demand here at home.”

Harbert also said that we have such a competitive advantage here in the U.S. because we have affordable energy and a lot of it. Whereas if you were to compare us to Europe, electricity prices are about four times as high and natural gas is three to four times higher, so industries from around the world are looking to invest in America and this region needs to make sure some of that investment happens here.

Harbert said, “Where we want to sell our products and services to 95% of the world’s population that is outside the United States.”

“So the growth of our economy is very heavily dependent on trade and free trade and some would say fair trade.”

Energy is a huge opportunity for us and selling oil, natural gas and coal all around the world is important.

Visit for more information on the “Forge the Future” project.


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