Lawmakers seek answers after oil gushes during Colorado floods
More than 60,000 gallons of oil and other petrochemical-laced fluids are now confirmed to have been spilled from fracking operations during recent floods in Colorado — and two congressmembers are calling for a hearing into the toxic eruption.
State oil officials have been doing their best to track oil spills and equipment leaks amid floods that killed eight and destroyed 1,800 homes. In an update published Monday [PDF], the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said it is tracking 14 “notable” oil spills that released an estimated 44,000 gallons. It is also monitoring 12 leaks of “produced” water — an estimated 17,000 gallons of water polluted with oil and gas residue from fracking operations.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, think that’s pretty effing disturbing. They sent a letter [PDF] last week to committee chair Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) asking him to schedule a hearing into the effects of leaks from Colorado’s fracking sector during the floods:
As Congress continues to consider policies to expand domestic oil and gas production, we would benefit from learning more about how disasters like this can impact local communities, states, and federal regulators. We respectfully request that you hold a committee hearing as soon as possible so that we may fully understand the potential grave consequences resulting from this flood.
We believe that the Committee and Congress would benefit from hearing firsthand accounts from local elected officials, the COGCC, EPA response team members, experts in oil and gas technology and innovation, and conservation advocates.
“Congress must deal with this issue to ensure that natural disasters do not also become public health disasters,” Polis said in a statement. “Not only have my constituents been dealing with damage to their homes, schools, and roads, they are increasingly concerned about the toxic spills that have occurred from the flooding of nearly 1,900 fracking wells in Colorado.”