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Colorado and Fracking

Colorado sits on top of the Niobrara Shale—a rich source of natural gas that has been a hot target for fracking operations. The number of active oil and gas wells in the state almost doubled between 2000 and 2010, from 22,228 to 43,354 wells.

In an area where 95 percent of new wells utilize fracking to access natural gas, large amounts of water are used and injected deep underground. This water is combined with proprietary chemicals that pose a contamination risk for both people and wildlife.

Communities have vehemently opposed fracking, and government regulations seek to enforce water testing and chemical disclosure laws. In 2011, Colorado adopted a new fracking disclosure rule, which Earthjustice was actively involved in shaping. It’s among one of the strongest in the nation. Gov. John Hickenlooper also worked with energy companies to broker this law, though he has avoided legislation to support communities that want to ban fracking locally—something many Colorado communities are fighting for.

Did You Know?

In February of 2015, Gov. Hickenlooper’s taskforce on oil and gas discussed proposals that would force energy companies to disclose all of the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, as well as measures that would give local governments more input on siting new wells.

Last Updated: September 29, 2015

The Fracked Fact Quiz

An earthquake swarm resulting from underground wastewater injection included Colorado's biggest quake since …
2001
1983
1967
In April 2013, researchers at the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting reported that an ongoing earthquake swarm in New Mexico and Colorado, which included Colorado’s biggest earthquake since 1967, was a result of underground wastewater injection.

For More Information:

The Fraccidents Map:

High profile incidents ("fraccidents") related to the country's oil and gas drilling boom have occurred in and around Colorado. Click on each Fraccident icon. fraccident to learn more:

Fracking Across The United States: