The U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will be in Denver this Wednesday, holding a field hearing on proposed federal regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The testimony is by invitation only, and it's expected to explore the economic impact of the Interior Department's draft proposal, which would require public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking on public lands, as well as increased water and air protections.


The U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will be in Denver this Wednesday, holding a field hearing on proposed federal regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The testimony is by invitation only, and it's expected to explore the economic impact of the Interior Department's draft proposal, which would require public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking on public lands, as well as increased water and air protections.

Gary Wockner, Colorado program director for Clean Water Action, says he's worried that the oil and gas industry is increasingly claiming rights to a scarce resource in Colorado - water.

"When fracking and drilling uses water, it uses it forever and permanently removes it from the hydrological cycle in part because it's so poisoned they can't put it back into the lakes, and that makes it almost impossible to treat."

Subcommittee chair Rep. Doc Hastings claims the proposed federal regulations will destroy jobs and stifle economic growth. He's said states have long regulated fracking, and the the Obama administration is trying to "reinvent the wheel" when it comes to fracking on public lands.

Colorado currently has the toughest fracking laws in the nation, requiring operators to disclose chemicals used in the process. Wockner says that hasn't stopped industry growth.

"The fact is that oil and gas drilling in Colorado is at its highest ever and there's more jobs in the industry right now than there have ever been."

Wockner says Colorado's law is an important first step, but doesn't go far enough.

"Does it really make a difference in terms of how much land is drilled and fracked? No. Will it slow down drilling and fracking? No. It's a small step forward, but we have a long ways to go to protect the air and water and public lands of Colorado."

Wockner says Clean Water Action and other groups will protest outside the hearing on Wednesday morning at the Old Supreme Court Chambers in Denver. The hearing begins at 9 a.m.

The hearing information page is tinyurl.com/6r4ygjt.