Why Was This a Problem? CO House Barely Passes Bill to Study Impact of Fracking on Human Health

Europeans protest frackingAfter hours of debate on Wednesday night, the Colorado House gave final passage to Fort Collins Rep. Joann Ginal’s HB 1297 on a near party-line vote Thursday. The controversial bill calls for a study of the impacts of Front Range oil-and-gas development on human health in six counties most impacted by fracking: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld.

The bill was seen by opponents as a partisan anti-fracking measure and its aim to study the impacts of fracking on the “quality of life” were called biased and overly vague. Republican representatives offered a series of failed amendments aimed at preventing anyone employed by a conservation or anti-fracking organization from sitting on the study’s advisory committee or else stopping the study midway if its survey phase doesn’t identify significant health impacts.

While the vast majority of those amendments failed, one offered by Rep. Janak Joshi of Colorado Springs to include a non-voting member from every county in the study, as opposed to just three from any of the six counties, did pass. That brings the study’s much-discussed scientific advisory board up to 19 individuals. There will be ten non-voting members, six designees from each county as well as an economist, a statistician, an oil-and-gas representative and a conservation representive. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which will coordinate the study, will have two voting members on the advisory committee: the department’s executive director and chief medical officer. The remaining voting members will be assigned by the CDPHE with the qualification that the all appointees have relevant experience in the area and no known conflicts. At least two physicians must be appointed to the voting portion of the committee.

The study will take place over two years and then be offered for peer review, published and any policy recommendations brought to the legislature.

The bill passed by a vote of 38-27 and now heads to the Senate.

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