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Boulder fracking opponents demand county ban

10:50 PM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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Opponents of the process of Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking,' made their voices heard as the county debates new regulations for the oil and gas industry.

A group of opponents mobbed around an oil and gas industry representative in an effort to intimidate her, yelling she "wasn't welcome in Boulder."

Boulder County has not updated the way it regulates the oil and gas industry for nearly 20 years.

Before the county lifts the current moratorium on new applications, it is updating the regulations drillers would have to comply with.

That drilling could include the controversial method of fracking.

Most in attendance want a ban on fracking completely on Boulder County. The problem is the county cannot ban fracking outright.

The county controls the surface of the land, but any sort of process underground is a state issue.

That didn't matter to most at the meeting. Many asked the commissioners to take a stand and ban fracking anyway, even if it means a lawsuit from the state.

"This is a movement," fracking opponent Neshama Abraham told the commissioners. "It's Colorado. It's the U.S. It's the entire world. We are all waking up that fracking is not OK. I think it's fair to say that it is the most dangerous technology that we are now dealing with."

Rod Brueske lives in Boulder County and is also opposed to fracking.

"You wanted to have this be a safe place for everyone to be able to express themselves," he said. "I want Boulder County to be a safe place for my children, your children and all the citizens."

The tone of the meeting quickly took a different turn when a representative from EnCana Oil and Gas had her time at the microphone.

Wendy Wiedenbeck was interrupted multiple times during her testimony.

"It is important that we not make decisions out of fear," she said. "Instead decisions based on facts."

Before public comment began, Wiedenbeck had requested a security escort from the building and back to her car following her testimony. A group of fracking opponents surrounded and followed her several blocks, shouting at her.

"We have spoken, now get out of our county!" one yelled.

Boulder County says the moratorium will eventually be lifted, but it will most likely be extended first so the regulations can be put in place and hopefully address the fears of those at the meeting.

"The general sentiment from the public is they'd like to see a ban on fracking," said Kim Sanchez, the planning division manager for Boulder County's Land Use Department. "What Boulder County is attempting to do is put the most protective set of regulations on the books. That way we have the ability to deal with the impacts that are of concern to the public."

Regulations won't be enough for most opposed to fracking.

Boulder County's Land Use Department says they still want the oil and gas industry to be able to develop within the county.

EnCana Oil and Gas doesn't like the new regulations either, they say they're either redundant with state laws or don't allow for enough flexibility.

The current moratorium expires on Feb. 4, but will likely be extended a few months.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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