Fracking foes pump out votes in Colorado and Ohio where wells are dry

Hydraulic Fracturing Illustration - Idealized

Hydraulic Fracturing Illustration – Idealized

By Valerie Richardson-The Washington Times  November 11, 2013

DENVER — The four local anti-fracking initiatives approved last week by voters in Colorado and Ohio should have roughly the same impact as outlawing surfing in Denver or cliff-diving in Cleveland.

That’s because there’s virtually no hydraulic fracturing taking place in any of the communities that approved the fracking bans.

Food & Water Watch, an anti-fracking group, trumpeted the Nov. 5 votes as “historic victories” for the movement, even as critics dismissed the votes as purely symbolic, given the noticeable lack of oil and gas development in those communities.

Voters in another three towns — Bowling Green and Youngstown, Ohio, and Broomfield, Colo. — rejected the fracking bans. The only Ohio city to approve the anti-fracking “community bill of rights” was Oberlin, a liberal college town where no oil and gas drilling or hydraulic fracturing is taking place, said Mike Chadsey, Ohio Oil and Gas Association spokesman.

“There’s definitely no shale development in the entire county, much less in the city of Oberlin,” said Mr. Chadsey. “I would say this was an easy win for these groups where you have a small liberal-arts college town with lots of students.”

Ditto for the Colorado measures, where fracking moratoriums were passed in Boulder, Lafayette and Fort Collins, three university towns known more for their large student populations than their oil and gas development.

“Boulder and Lafayette were nothing more than symbolic votes,” Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Tisha Schuller said in a statement. “Lafayette’s last new well permit was in the early 1990s and Boulder’s last oil and gas well was plugged in 1999.”

In Fort Collins, the Coloradoan newspaper argued that the town was being used by anti-fracking activists as a political “pawn,” given that there are only about a half-dozen wells within the city limits. The hydraulic fracturing process typically lasts a few days in the life of a 30-year well, and the oldest of the Fort Collins wells dates back to 1924.

“Nearly 90 percent of Fort Collins is already off limits to any sort of oil and gas drilling — fracking or otherwise. And the remaining 10 percent doesn’t have all that much oil underneath it in the first place,” said the Oct. 26 editorial.

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