18 Groups ask Governor Hickenlooper to stop misinforming the public

March 13, 2012

Colorado, oil and gas drilling

Fort Collins, CO – Today, 18 Colorado groups asked Governor Hickenlooper to stop misinforming the public about spills and releases of fluids involved with the oil and gas drilling and fracking process. Governor Hickenlooper was recently quoted in the press as saying, “There have been a few spills”.[1] But information obtained on March 8, 2012, from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission indicates that hundreds of spills and releases are reported to the State each year, with a statewide total of 3,966 since the year 2000.

“Governor Hickenlooper needs to stop misinforming the public about the amount of drilling and fracking fluids spilled and released on Colorado’s land and water,” said Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action. “There are not ‘a few spills’; there are hundreds of spills and releases every year.”

Information obtained from the COGCC indicates that since the year 2000, a statewide total of 3,966 spills and releases have been reported by oil and gas operators to the COGCC, with an average of 330.5 per year over that 12-year period (see table below, and see this spreadsheet sent to Clean Water Action by COGCC on March 8, 2012).  Additionally, the number of spills and releases has been increasing over time – in 2002 there was a 12-year low of 193; in 2010 and 2011, there were nearly 500 per year. Compared to the year 2000, spills/releases increased by 90.6% in the year 2011.

“The public needs to know the facts about the threat that drilling and fracking poses to our communities,” said Shane Davis of the Sierra Club.  “Not only are chemicals spilled and released, the majority of that chemical pollution is never recovered or cleaned up.”

An earlier detailed analysis by the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action revealed that over 40% of spills/releases reported in Weld County between 2003 and 2012, contaminated groundwater. Nearly 3% contaminated surface water, and a random sample of 6% of 1,000 reports suggested that up to 1.75 million gallons of spilled/released fluids were never “recovered”.  Spilled/released fluids include “oil”, “produced water”, and “other” as reported to the COGCC.

Groups signing on to this press release:
Clean Water Action, Fort Collins, CO
Sierra Club – Poudre Canyon Group, Fort Collins, CO
Western Colorado Congress of Mesa County
Sierra Club-Trappers Lake Group, Steamboat Springs, CO
Coalition for a Clean Colorado, Affiliate groups:
Renewable Communities Alliance, Alamosa, CO
Commerce City Unity NOW, Commerce City, CO
Citizens for Huerfano County, La Veta, CO
South Park Coalition, Como, CO
Be The Change, Denver, CO
Rifle-Silt-Peach Valley-New Castle (RSPN) Coalition, Silt, CO
Frack-files, Greeley, CO
What the Frack?! Arapahoe, Aurora, CO
Coloradoans for Fair Rates and Clean Energy (CO-force), Boulder, CO
Elbert County Oil and Gas Interest Group (ECOGIG), Agate, CO
LongmontROAR, Longmont, CO
Erie Rising, Erie, CO
Citizens for a Healthy Community, Paonia, CO
Routt County Frack, Steamboat Springs, CO
[1] “There have been a few spills,” Hickenlooper told FOX31 Denver.

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