Fracking is a hot topic right now, because it is one of the newest forms of oil and gas development, and it is a growing trend as developers use the technique to become more efficient and pull more resources out of existing well heads. While fracking still makes up only a small portion of total oil and gas development, its use has grown substantially over the past ten years.
Fracking consists of pumping water mixed with proprietary chemical solutions down well heads at high pressures to fracture the rock and subterranean structures around the well shaft (hence, “fracking”). By making these fractures, oil and gas developers are able to pull more resources through the fractured areas. Over 99% of the water and chemical solutions are recaptured, but environmental groups oppose the practice because of instances where the chemicals have made their way into the water table.
The oil and gas industry has opposed disclosure of the chemicals based on trade secret laws. Each company has developed its own chemical mixture, and therefore does not want to publish the recipe for other companies to see. On the other side, activists have fought to require disclosure of the mixtures to understand what chemicals are being pumped into the ground.
While the new rules are an attempt to find a middle ground, this story is long from being over. The release of the draft rules was major industry news across the country, but really didn’t have much effect here in Colorado. That is because last year Colorado adopted its own set of rules that already require such disclosure.
The Colorado rules were the result of a joint effort between the oil and gas industry and activists, lead by Governor Hickenlooper, to find a happy medium. The Colorado rules were unprecedented at the time, and set the standard for both other states and the federal government.
So, while there is sure to be continued fall-out from the new draft rules, fracking operations will remain relatively unaffected in Colorado.