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Studyfracking.com:You can ask any question you like…just don’t count on an answer

An industry-backed group in Colorado has a new website on questions about fracking. Photo by Judith KohlerAn industry-backed group in Colorado has a new website on questions about fracking. Photo by Judith KohlerColoradans for Responsible Energy Development, backed by two of the largest energy companies doing business in Colorado – Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Noble Energy Inc. – was started last year “to help educate the general public about the energy, economic and environmental benefits of safe and responsible oil and gas development.”

I support safe and responsible energy development.

CRED’s latest TV ad includes an invitation to go to its website,  studyfracking.com, for “answers to all your questions” about fracking.  So I did. After all, I agree with the ad’s statement that “Fracking is an important issue for all of Colorado.”

With Colorado communities voting to ban fracking and the industry responding with lawsuits, it’s pretty clear that robust public debate and straight talk are in order. CRED’s new website is, in the group’s words, “aimed at answering Coloradans’ most important questions about fracking.”

However, its aim is not true. I typed my questions in the blank below the words “Ask us a question.” I figured that I’d eventually get some kind of response, even if it was canned.

But no matter what I typed, I was directed to the same “fact sheet” that paints a picture of a world in which nothing ever goes wrong. No freelance questions wanted or accepted. And they haven't added the questions I submitted. And they haven't added the questions I submitted for inclusion on the fact sheet.

So, here are some of the questions I tried to submit but couldn’t:

  •    Why does the industry fight disclosure of the specific make-up, including concentrations, of the chemicals in fracking fluids if they pose no danger to human health and the environment?
  •    Why does the industry object to a federal proposal to assess each well casing that is protecting usable water?
  •    Would the industry agree to using chemical tracers to prove that fracking fluids don’t mix with groundwater or contaminate drinking water wells?
  •   Would the industry agree to, and not fight, a thorough, independent study of the impacts of fracking?
  •  CRED says that fracking “has been part of Colorado for the past 60 years,” but hasn’t the technology radically changed, opening previously inaccessible areas to development? Does the industry think there are some places that just shouldn’t be drilled?
  •   And is it a coincidence that the name Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development sounds so similar to Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, a group formed in 2008 by the National Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited?

I didn’t really type in that last question, but would love to hear the answer.

About the Author
Judith Kohler

Judith Kohler is the regional communications manager for the National Wildlife Federation in Boulder, Colo. Before joining NWF in 2011, she covered the environment, energy, politics and general news stories for The Associated Press in Colorado and Wyoming.

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