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Learn more about frac’ing at seminar in Glenwood Springs

John ColsonPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Area residents interested in learning more about the gas-drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or “frac’ing,” might want to attend a seminar on the subject being held on Aug. 8 at the Ramada Inns and Suites of Glenwood Springs.The seminar, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is being sponsored by the American Institute of Professional Geologists and the Mountains & Plains Education and Research Center, and is billed as being an impartial look at the issue.The cost of the seminar is $60 for AIPG members, and $75 for nonmembers, and includes a boxed lunch and a beverage. Attendees may either register online at http://www.aipg.org or at the door on the day of the event.AIPG spokeswoman Cathy Duran said the registration fee is needed to help defray the costs involved, since the institute decided to not invite corporate sponsors for funding assistance.”We do not represent one way or the other about this,” she said of the institute. “AIPG is completely neutral.”Mountain Plains is an amalgamation of university and government agencies focused on occupational safety and health issues.According to Duran, the seminar will feature a number of speakers, including Judy Jordan, the Garfield County specialist on oil and gas issues; a toxicologist to address potential health hazards associated with frac’ing; geologists to explain the technologies involved; spokesmen from the EnCana oil and gas corporation; and representatives of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.”We want to keep it in real layman’s terms,” said Duran, explaining that the day will begin with an overall general discussion of the technique, then move on to more specific but related topics.She said the seminar has been in the planning stages for six or eight months, and grew out of a feeling among the institute’s managers that it was something the public wanted to know more about.Conceding that, at least in Garfield County, the subject has been hotly debated recently, Duran remarked, “so we’re kind of timely in talking about it.”Frac’ing is a process used by gas drilling companies, involving the injection of water, sand and chemicals at high pressures into the bore of a new well. The pressure breaks up the rock and sandstone formations deep under the earth and frees up pockets of oil and gas.Industry specialists insist that the procedure poses no serious public health impacts, in part because the bore of the gas well is sheathed in concrete for part of its depth to prevent chemicals from getting into groundwater supplies.Critics, however, contend that in practice, frac’ing has resulted in pollution of wells in the Divide Creek area south of Silt, and may be causing problems elsewhere that have yet to be identified.One source of concern in this regard is the plan by Antero Resources, a gas drilling firm that has leased mineral rights from the ExxonMobil corporation in the Battlement Mesa area. Antero plans to sink up to 200 wells in the area, inside the boundaries that define the community, and residents are worried about possible effects on their health and on water quality.jcolson@postindependent.com


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