Gov. Hickenlooper likes to tout Colorado’s oil and gas rules as a national model, saying that the state has found the middle ground on development. Unfortunately, his administration’s Anadarko-Noble loophole is another example of Gov. Hickenlooper putting the profits of the oil and gas industry ahead of Coloradans. The good news is that champions for local communities, like Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, are stepping in to try and fix problems like the loophole.
The Anadarko-Noble loophole provides an industry exemption from state water testing rules – already criticized as weakest in the nation – in northern Colorado, despite the fact that this is where some of the most intensive oil and gas drilling operations are located.
The loophole weakens state water testing rules in the Greater Wattenberg Area – near homes and farms in Adams, Boulder, Larimer, and Weld counties – which is home to more than 25 percent of Colorado’s oil and gas wells and some of the most intense growth in drilling activity.
As a result, it will be harder to detect water contamination and to figure out which well(s) are the source of contamination in the very region that needs these public safety standards the most. That’s not good news for Coloradans. In 2012, industry reported 402 spills in state, of which 20 percent resulted in water contamination, and just last month, a huge spill near Parachute creek contaminated nearby soil and water with cancer causing benzene.
The Anadarko-Noble loophole is part of a disturbing pattern by Gov. Hickenlooper of putting oil and gas industry profits ahead of what’s best for Coloradans. Remember the industry paid-for-ad in which Gov. Hickenlooper claimed that Colorado hadn’t had a single instance of ground water contamination from oil and gas drilling, despite evidence to the contrary (58 cases of groundwater contamination in 2011 alone)? Or how Gov. Hickenlooper said his hands were tied for suing Longmont for protecting the health of its residents from fracking?
Today the Colorado House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee will consider HB 1316, legislation that would close the Anadarko-Noble loophole and take a step in the right direction towards protecting our water and our communities. Let’s hope that the committee members will be representing the Coloradans they were elected to serve and not Big Oil and Gas when they vote on HB 1316.