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Task Force Proposes Fracking Rules To Colorado Governor


A Colorado task force tackling controversial fracking issues is submitting its recommendations to the governor today. The group has been meeting for five months, looking for a compromise on what local governments can do when drilling is proposed nearby. The industry is hailing the task force as a collaborative success, but others say the body did not go far enough. Dan Boyce of member station KUNC reports from Denver.

DAN BOYCE, BYLINE: After voting on 35 recommendations, nine received enough votes from the task force to go to the governor. Task force member and vice president of operations at Anadarko Petroleum, Brad Holly, says the majority of Coloradans are satisfied with most of the state's drilling.

BRAD HOLLY: What we heard from the public is that the real issues are in the urban mitigation areas.

BOYCE: In other words, when production gets close to towns. One of the recommendations directs oil and gas regulators to find ways to bring local governments into permitting discussions earlier. It also recommends stronger regulations on large facilities with multiple wells and tanks.

HOLLY: This task force has made significant progress.

BOYCE: While Holly and other industry members are touting the results, that's not how every member feels.

MATTHEW SURA: Is it a failure? Probably. I guess we kicked the can down the road and we said we're going to do some rulemaking.

BOYCE: Attorney and task force member Matthew Sura faults the group for not giving local governments any more legal authority to regulate drilling. Several environmental groups quickly voiced opposition to the outcome, and a new organization began to rally in the streets of downtown Denver.


SAM SCHABACKER: A new statewide coalition dedicated to banning this dangerous industrial process in our great state.


BOYCE: That's activist Sam Schabacker announcing Coloradans Against Fracking. Retired nurse Karen Dike says the association is looking to recent actions in New York state.

KAREN DIKE: Unless we get something through the legislature that stops this attack on our citizens, then we will go to the ballot initiative.

BOYCE: And that's exactly what the Oil and Gas Task Force was originally formed to avoid. The task force's nine recommendations now await approval from the governor and, in some cases, the state legislature. For NPR News, I'm Dan Boyce in Denver.

WERTHEIMER: That story comes to us from Inside Energy, a public media collaboration focusing on America's energy issues. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Dan Boyce moved to the Inside Energy team at Rocky Mountain PBS in 2014, after five years of television and radio reporting in his home state of Montana. In his most recent role as Montana Public Radio’s Capitol Bureau Chief, Dan produced daily stories on state politics and government.