The news (Herald, April 19) that petroleum giant ExxonMobil supports the disclosure of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process associated with gas and oil drilling here in La Plata County and across the West is a significant step in the right direction. The company deserves a pat on the back for taking this stance.
In the past, the industry has been loath to disclose the chemical cocktails that are injected into the ground to help break up rock and release the flow of natural gas. This makes Exxon- Mobil’s recent announcement even more significant – if this industry giant, which is poised to take over XTO Energy here in Southwest Colorado, can unveil the contents of its fracturing fluid, others will hopefully follow suit.
As the company noted in a recent Herald article, this disclosure will certainly encourage other companies to use greener chemicals to access natural gas. Not only can exposure to these chemicals at the drill site prove harmful to people, but throughout the West, these unnatural chemicals have turned up in groundwater. Drinking wells have become polluted and unsafe in areas of Wyoming and here in Colorado. It’s worth it for industry to unveil the contents of its proprietary fracturing fluids if for no other reason than to give health officials a head start in treating illnesses caused by the accidental ingestion of this material.
On a larger scale, this move is good for our most precious resource – our water. Not only is this resource vital to human health, but it’s absolutely needed to maintain healthy fisheries and wildlife populations. The need for cold, clean water is particularly important to native trout, and there have been instances in Colorado where drilling and fracturing pose serious threats to indigenous cutthroat trout populations.
As a sportsman, and a representative of Trout Unlimited, I congratulate ExxonMobil for making this gesture, and I encourage all of the operators in our corner of Colorado to do the same.
Chuck Wanner, president, 5 Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Durango