Colorado Senator Defends Fracking, Says ‘Burning Water’ Helped Native Americans

Equipment used for the extraction of natural gas is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site on June 19, 2012 in South Montrose, Pennsylvania. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, stimulates gas production by injecting wells with high volumes of chemical-laced water in order to free-up pockets of natural gas below. The process is controversial with critics saying it could poison water supplies, while the natural-gas industry says it's been used safely for decades. While New York State has yet to decide whether to allow franking, Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering whether to allow limited franking for communities along the pennsylvania border that want it. Economically struggling Binghamton had passed a drilling ban which prohibits any exploration or extraction of natural gas in the city for the next two years. The Marcellus Shale Gas Feld extends through parts of New York State, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia and could hold up to 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  
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Jason Plautz
Aug. 13, 2014, 1:58 p.m.

A Col­or­ado state le­gis­lat­or has dis­missed con­cerns about hy­draul­ic frac­tur­ing pol­lut­ing wa­ter with meth­ane as “pro­pa­ganda,” say­ing that it’s nat­ur­al to have meth­ane in wa­ter.

In fact, state Sen. Randy Baumgard­ner said that meth­ane ac­tu­ally helped Nat­ive Amer­ic­ans.

“If you go back in his­tory and look at how the In­di­ans traveled, they traveled to the burn­ing wa­ters,” Baumgard­ner said in a video pos­ted by the site Right Wing Watch. “And that was meth­ane in the wa­ters and that was for warmth in the win­ter­time. So a lot of people, if they just trace back the his­tory, they’ll know how a lot of this is pro­pa­ganda.”

The com­ments were made in an in­ter­view for the pro­gram “Pray in Je­sus Name,” which is run by former Navy chap­lain and state House can­did­ate Gor­don Klin­genschmitt at the West­ern Con­ser­vat­ive Sum­mit.

In a fol­low-up email, Baumgard­ner said that he was re­fer­ring to “hot springs,” which he said his grand­moth­er called “burn­ing wa­ters.” The bac­teria in the geo­therm­ally heated hot springs can pro­duce meth­ane, a po­tent green­house gas, but the nat­ur­al phe­nomen­on is dif­fer­ent from the po­ten­tial to have meth­ane from a gas well pol­lute a wa­ter source.

While some meth­ane does oc­cur nat­ur­ally in ground­wa­ter, there have long been con­cerns that nat­ur­al-gas pro­duc­tion will pol­lute ground- and drink­ing-wa­ter sources with the gas. A study from Duke Uni­versity last June found that drink­ing-wa­ter wells near nat­ur­al-gas sites in Pennsylvania and New York were more likely to show el­ev­ated levels of meth­ane.

The doc­u­ment­ary Gasland built on those con­cerns with a fam­ous scene where Col­or­ado res­id­ents lit their tap wa­ter on fire (crit­ics of the film have said that the meth­ane at those wa­ter sources was nat­ur­ally oc­cur­ring).

Baumgard­ner has served in the state Sen­ate since 2012 and served four years in the state House. He led an un­suc­cess­ful bid to de­feat in­cum­bent Mark Ud­all, a Demo­crat, in the U.S. Sen­ate race, but failed to win the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­a­tion over Rep. Cory Gard­ner. In an in­ter­view with The Den­ver Post, he ac­know­ledged that he was an un­der­dog in the race.

Watch Baumgard­ner’s com­ments here:


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