Bill Would Hold Energy Companies Liable For Earthquakes

· Jan. 4, 2016, 2:47 pm
Photo: Drilling Fracking Mead Longmont Rig (STAFF)Grace Hood
A drilling rig operates right next to I-25 on Nov. 3, 2015 just north of Longmont.  

The U.S. Geological Survey has tied some earthquakes in Colorado and seven other states to the energy sector -- mostly from injecting wastewater deep underground, but also a few cases from hydraulic fracturing. That's the process when water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the ground to free oil and gas.

Democratic state Rep. Joe Salazar wants to hold drillers responsible for any earthquakes they trigger that cause property damage or physical injury.

Salazar says residents in his Adams County district are worried about a fracking group’s plans to place 20 oil and gas wells in neighborhoods there.

"These were people who were concerned for their children," Salazar said. "They were concerned for their community. They were concerned about the environment. They’re concerned about their clean water and clean air.”

But state Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, says liability would be difficult to prove. He also says that Colorado already has strict environmental guidelines – and he cautions against targeting an industry that provides a great deal of revenue to the state.

“How much longer do you want to stand on the throat of the oil and gas industry to limit that amount of money that’s being generated by the state of Colorado?” Scott said.

The bill faces slim odds in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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