Posted 10:22 AM 3/12/2013 : Council Set to Vote on Fracking in City Limits
To drill or not to drill, that is the question facing Colorado Springs City Council Tuesday. Council members are voting on new regulations that would allow oil and gas drilling within city limits. In particular, the concern is over hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. The process is already permitted in the county.
But ahead of the vote, two opposing groups are voicing their opinions in favor of, or against fracking.
"We think it's kind of a ridiculous idea, certainly not a smart idea to invite this filthy industry into our community," said Dave Gardner, with Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights.
Gardner, for lack of a better word, hates fracking. He believes allowing fracking into Colorado Springs would hurt the economy and the environment.
"I really believe that at the rate we are uncovering the dirt about this process and this industry, that it will very soon take its place in the history books right next to DDT, Thalidomide, CFC's," said Gardner.
One of Gardner's sources of concern is the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) report that fracking likely contaminated ground water and drinking water in Pavillion, Wyoming.
But the science shows Colorado can't be compared to Pavillion, where the oil and gas resources were located in close proximity to underground aquifers.
Here in Colorado, we have the Niobrara Shale, which is so deep, parts of it stretch below sea level.
"You have shallow aquifers at the surface, a huge layer of impermeable shale, and then oil and gas resources more than a mile below the ground surface, so this is quite different," said Tisha Schuller, President and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Schuller said she is excited about the prospect of drilling in Colorado Springs.
"Iin the end they came up with rules that are extraordinarily protective of the citizens of Colorado Springs, and are in line with the State of Colorado's regulatory premise," said Schuller.
State rules include a 1,000 foot buffer zone between wells, homes, schools and businesses, as well as ground water testing before, during and after drilling for chemicals and pollutants.
But accidents do happen, in the past five years there have been 2,078 spills from fracking. Of those spills, 17% contaminated groundwater.
"If we can't prevent that (spills) then we might want to stop the practice of gathering all of these toxic chemicals into one place," said Gardner.
The big question now facing state and local officials, are the benefits from drilling for oil and gas worth the costs? That's something the EPA is hoping to answer when it releases its study on fracking in 2014.
The Colorado Springs City Council is set to make a formal vote on the drilling and fracking regulations Tuesday at 1:00pm.