Newspaper article Roll Call

As Fracking Debates Roil, It's Time for National Standards

Newspaper article Roll Call

As Fracking Debates Roil, It's Time for National Standards

Article excerpt

Few developments on the energy landscape have been as disruptive as the spread of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. The technique has transformed the economy of communities across the country while raising concerns about safety and environmental impacts.

Fracking has benefitted many local and regional economies as drilling has brought new jobs and growth, particularly in communities that were previously struggling to attract business development. Over the past five years, direct employment in the fossil fuels sector has grown by 18 percent nationwide, while my home state of Colorado has seen even larger growth of nearly 30 percent. This level of activity, much of which is generated by new oil and gas development driven by fracking, has helped people and communities get by during the Great Recession and the ongoing recovery.

For all of the economic growth fracking has powered, concerns about safety and risks to drinking water and air quality have closely followed. With thousands of new drilling sites popping up in areas sometimes unaccustomed to energy development, environmental and safety regulators have been working to keep up. With an unfamiliar industry operating nearby many local communities have raised concerns about fracking.

While the tension between economic development and environmental and safety concerns is neither new nor unique to fracking, the discussions and political debates about it have grown heated. In my home state of Colorado, local communities with drilling sites nearby have fought for more control over fracking activity. After New York State announced a six-year moratorium on fracking, several towns in the Southern Tier region that depend on energy development for jobs have expressed alarm about their future economic viability.

I support fracking as long as it is done is a way that does not jeopardize safety or human health. To reduce the tension and begin a more constructive conversation about energy development and its local consequences, we can start by applying the protections of the Safe Drinking Water Act to fracking activity. …

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