Fracking transparency builds trust

By Libby Szabo, Jefferson County Commissioner and Former Minority Leader, Colorado House of Representatives

My family has owned a business in Arvada, Colorado for 40 years. As a mom, grandma, and small business owner, I know how important a strong economy is to Colorado families.

I ran for the Colorado Legislature to be a champion for families and small businesses—and that included fighting for responsible energy development. During my time as a state legislator and now as a Jefferson County commissioner, I have seen firsthand how Colorado’s tough oil and natural gas regulations at the federal, state, and local level make hydraulic fracturing the logical choice for both our wallets and the environment.

Whether it’s our strict spill reporting requirements, first-of-its-kind methane regulations, strong groundwater monitoring programs, or mandatory disclosure of fracking fluid ingredients, fracking is done responsibly here in Colorado. This regulatory success means we don’t have to choose between a strong economy and a clean environment—a choice no Coloradan is willing to make.

Unfortunately, this information doesn’t always get out to those who need to know the most. The good news is that efforts focused on boosting transparency and publishing the information Coloradans want to know about is finally catching up.

You don’t have to take my word for it. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)—the state agency tasked with monitoring oil and natural gas development—posts these regulations directly on its website—helping to make it one of the most transparent industry regulators in the country. And earlier this month, the COGCC revamped its website to make it even easier for Coloradans to get the facts.

FracFocus.org, the public website that hosts a national fracking fluid ingredient registry, recently took its public disclosure a step further by making its information downloadable as raw datasets so it can be analyzed for patterns and trends. In the past, data about fracking ingredients was available only on a well-by-well basis and difficult to sort through or export. With nearly 100,000 wells registered on FracFocus, this made collecting and analyzing chemical disclosures a chore for researchers and the public alike.

I’ll be the first to admit, I probably don’t have a need for this massive dataset, but I sure am happy it exists for those who are interested in knowing more.

In both my business and legislative career, I’ve seen firsthand how transparency builds trust. As a Jefferson County commissioner, it’s my mission to ensure my constituents understand how fracking is important to their family’s past, present, and future.  With tools like these they’ll be able to do just that—allowing them to make informed decisions about energy production based on facts, not fiction.

 

Real-time well groundwater monitoring

Protecting Colorado’s groundwater

How Colorado detects and reduces leaks