Mountain States

New Reports Find Fracking Poses Little Risk to Fort Collins’ Air or Water Quality

Newly released research prepared for the City of Fort Collins found that hydraulic fracturing poses little risk to the city’s air quality or drinking water. As reported by the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

“Streams, rivers and lakes in Fort Collins have a low probability of being contaminated, according to the report. Exposure to potentially harmful chemicals from drilling could come through the air, although prolonged exposure is not likely given air pollution controls at oil operations.”

The reports were prepared by a Boulder-based environmental consultant, as a result of Fort Collins Ballot Measure 2A, that placed a five year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing within city limits but has since been ruled invalid by the courts. Part of the measure directed the city “to fully study the impacts of this process on property values and human health.”

Specifically, the report assessing air quality at oil and gas development sites near the town found no “significant difference” between air quality near the operations and air quality in urban environments. Air quality was monitored over a 90 day period at a well pad and tank battery northeast of town and at two sites in downtown Fort Collins. From the town memo summarizing the findings:

“The third report provides the results of short term air quality sampling conducted to identify baseline air quality conditions at the Fort Collins field. The general conclusion from this short-term assessment is that there was no significant difference in observed concentrations of measured pollutants between oil and gas sites and the urban sites and none of the analyzed compounds were measured at levels of concern that would warrant further study at this time.”

In terms of risk to drinking water, lakes, rivers and streams, researchers found that the city’s waterways are currently “uncontaminated” from oil and gas development and are unlikely to be impacted should the moratorium be rescinded. From the town memo:

“Drinking water in Fort Collins is currently uncontaminated by oil and gas extraction and is unlikely to become contaminated since water supply sources are not located near sources of petroleum.”

The memo goes on:

“Streams, rivers and lakes in Fort Collins also have a low probability of being contaminated.”

Researchers also provided a review of current studies analyzing the impact of oil and gas development on property values. Notably, the report highlights that “literature that references potential environmental and property value impacts associated with fracking is abundant,” the report also issued this caveat to the validity of that literature:

“Among these documents, only a few are also supported by recognized methods of valuation using empirical data that could be acceptable in a court of law.”

The findings from the environmental consultants for the city of Fort Collins contradict arguments used by national ban-fracking activists who campaigned for the moratorium in Fort Collins and for bans and moratoriums across Colorado’s Front Range. One such national organization, Washington D.C-based Food & Water Watch, has called Northern Colorado “ground zero” in the campaign to ban domestic oil and gas production. The group’s Mountain West Region Organizer Sam Schabacker attended an election night watch event in Fort Collins for the moratorium where he told the National Journal:

“We believe fracking is fundamentally dangerous and unsafe,” said Schabacker, whose organization is among numerous national groups pushing for a nationwide ban through local and state elections. “There is no way to control it.”

While the researchers who prepared these reports were careful to recommend further study and point out that research is ongoing, the initial findings paint a very different story than the talking points deployed by Schabacker and anti-energy activists. In fact, these reports build on numerous credible studies that already exist underscoring the safety of hydraulic fracturing and come just as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long awaited, five-year study, which finds “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systematic impacts to drinking water resources.”

No Comments

Post A Comment