If fracking treated all people equally, that is, if every person in Colorado were threatened with anywhere from 10 to 50 fracked wells in their neighborhood, the oil and gas industry would be long gone. But it doesn’t, so only a minority of Coloradans reap the whirlwind in the state’s fracking fields.
That Prop 112, a citizen setback initiative, made it onto the fall ballot and that about one million Coloradans supported it shows there is growing public awareness and concern over industrial fracking. It mandated 2500 foot drilling setbacks from homes and other essential human resources such as watercourses. The oil and gas industry defeated the initiative by spending $40 million to create uncertainty about the factual health and safety hazards of fracking. That money onslaught influenced statewide politicians from both parties who didn’t want those deep pockets turned inside out on them. For too many, it appears, the business of government is business.
As a species we hate uncertainty. Like the cigarette industry before it, the oil business and their political allies have adopted uncertainty as their life blood. Sure, many people get sick living near fracking sites, but some don’t, say they. The air quality along the front-range is deteriorating and is a threat to all, but it’s not all the fault of frackers in Weld County, say they. And so it goes, for certainty is elusive in the complicated world we’ve created.
Still, some things about fracking are certain. As an example, fracked wells decrease in production very rapidly, after which they must be properly closed. The state contains over 100,000 wells, and about half are closed or inactive. A small subset, of roughly 720 wells, are called orphaned wells. These are wells where ownership can’t be determined.
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