Disclosure of the composition of hydraulic fracturing fluids will be the subject for discussion at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rule-making hearing on December 5

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will have a rule-making hearing on Dec. 5. One of the changes would require companies to divulge the chemical used in fracking…

State Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, is planning legislation that would estimate water use for fracking, and she is also concerned about potential contamination of groundwater sources from fracking operations…

“Governor Hickenlooper was right to demand full disclosure of fracking chemicals as a means of creating greater transparency in industry operations,” said Elise Jones, director of coalition. “It would be a shame if a wide loophole for unlimited trade secret claims undermined the governor’s goal.”

The Colorado Environmental Coalition, the Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project, the National Wildlife Federation, the San Juan Citizens Alliance and the High Country Citizens Alliance, represented by the public interest law firm Earthjustice, will press the Commission at the Dec. 5 hearing to close the trade-secret loophole.

“The draft rule’s trade secret provisions highlight the oil and gas industry’s resistance to full public disclosure,” said Earthjustice attorney Michael Freeman. “Adopting this approach in the final rule would feed existing public skepticism that the oil and gas industry only supports disclosure to the extent it is limited to window dressing that allows companies to continue withholding information at their discretion.”

Here’s a look at the water required for hydraulic fracturing from Catharine Tsai writing for the Associated Press via The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group, estimates that it would take 6.5 billion gallons of water a year to drill the Niobrara formation. The state as a whole uses more than 100 times that a year.

“Even with a vastly increased drilling program, the quantity of water used is still small in the overall scheme of Colorado’s water use,” said COGA president Tisha Schuller. She said COGA plans to work with communities on planning for oil and gas development, including infrastructure and water needs.

Natural resource planners said they’re working with state regulators to find out how much water may be available for oil and gas drilling.

More coverage from the Associated Press via The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has proposed requiring companies to publicly disclose their fracking chemicals, but ingredients considered to be a “trade secret” would be disclosed only to state regulators and certain county officials and health professionals on request. Delta County commissioners have suggested clarifying how operators declare something to be a trade secret, while Pitkin County commissioners are pushing for public disclosure of all chemicals.

More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Commerce City Mayor pro tem Dom inick Moreno and state Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora, joined environment groups Tuesday, saying that while trade secrets are important safeguards for business, letting companies avoid disclosure by invoking trade secrets would defeat the purpose of the rule. “Our residents deserve to know what chemicals are being used only yards away from their homes,” Moreno said. Wyoming and Texas already require companies to disclose the chemicals they inject.

While full disclosure “is definitely not a silver bullet,” it would be “a good foundation to make sure fracking is happening safely,” Earthjustice attorney Mike Freeman said. “If they deal with the trade-secrets issue, this will do a lot to improve transparency in Colorado.”

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Finally, here’s a report about Southwestern Colorado’s potential Gothic Shale play, from Benjamin Preston writing for The Telluride Daily Planet. From the article:

The document outlining the development potential of the Paradox Basin portion of the San Juan Public Lands planning area estimates a potential for construction of 2,954 new gas wells there by 2021. At 646,000 acres, Paradox Basin comprises 18 percent of the San Juan Public Lands planning area. Right now there are six wells in the area, only one of which — the Koskie-Brumley well — is producing anything. Because the well is on a non-federal lease, BLM does not keep records of its production numbers.

The federal assessment also indicates that the new wells could produce 9 million barrels of oil and nearly 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from the Gothic Shale Gas Formation — enough natural gas to power more than a million American homes for a year. Construction of new drill pads, processing plants, compressor stations and pipelines associated with the development would cause an estimated 9,072 acres — 1.4 percent of the Paradox Basin’s total land area — of well-related surface disturbance.

“The [Bill Barrett Corp.] is the main driver we’ve seen so far for gas development in the Paradox Basin,” said Rick Rymerson, Minerals Staff Chief at BLM’s Durango office.

[Dan Randolph, Executive Director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance] said that environmental groups like his are concerned that gas development will cause wildlife habitat fragmentation, soil erosion and air and water quality impacts.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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