Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives want federal regulators to take a close look at a recent Colorado study of the practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."
The study, conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health and made public in March, concluded that people living within a half-mile of gas drilling activities face higher risks for cancer and noncancer health effects than the general population.
Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Henry Waxman, D-California, say the school's report should be factored into an ongoing study of the public health implications of the drilling practice by the Environmental Protection Agency.
But the congressman whose district includes Garfield County's natural gas fields, Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, is not in favor of the idea.
"Gov. Hickenlooper and the state of Colorado do a good job of regulating and monitoring fracking," wrote Tipton's representative, Joshua Green, in an email to the Post Independent. "Rep. Tipton is confident that they can continue to do this without adding more government to the mix."
Green said Tipton was traveling around his district and not readily available for interviews.
"Congressman Tipton believes that if done responsibly and safely, development of our country's natural resources will generate economic growth and jobs, and lead to lower energy costs on American families and businesses through increased energy independence," Green concluded.
The request from DeGette and Waxman was contained in a letter sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Tuesday.
The letter noted the EPA's effort to "finalize new standards for oil and gas operations to reduced emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds and toxic air pollutants that can cause cancer and other serious health effects."
"As you consider these standards, we ask that you consider a new study ... that raises concerns about the potential public health impact of air emissions from unconventional gas drilling operations," the members of Congress wrote.
"We support the responsible and safe production of U.S. oil and natural-gas resources," wrote DeGette and Waxman. "The good news is that we can control potentially harmful air emissions from drilling operations" by using current technology and controls.
Waxman is the ranking Democrat of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and DeGette is the ranking Democrat on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee as well as being on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The Energy and Commerce Committee has been looking into fracking and its potential impacts on public health and welfare for more than a year.
In February 2011, the committee issued a report accusing drilling services companies of using diesel in fracking compounds in 19 states, which the report said was a violation of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
The report did not find evidence that the use of diesel fuel in fracking compounds had contaminated water supplies, including those in Colorado, where the compounds were injected into the ground, according to news stories at the time.