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Fracking in Colorado: Evidence, politics and policy change

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John, Zira Quaghe 


This communication examines fracking (an abbreviation for hydraulic fracturing) in Colorado, analysing the degree of alignment between problem definition, data and evidence, political narratives, and policy interventions, among stakeholders (including government, industry and environmental groups). The risks associated with fracking emerged as a policy problem in 2011 following increased fracking-related complaints in Colorado. After assessing the pattern of complaints, the government identified that fracking concerns were driven by a ‘fear of the unknown’, propagated by environmental groups, not by data and evidence on actual impacts. The state government intervened by establishing three key fracking-related regulations: Rule 205A (2011) requiring disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process, Rule 604 (2013) extending distances of fracking operations from building and public facilities, and Rule 609 (2013) on stricter groundwater monitoring. At the start of the policy process, the varying political narratives on fracking did not align with existing data and evidence. However, after a series of deliberations between the government, industry, and environmental groups, stakeholders in Colorado reached a common agreement on policy interventions that eventually aligned with the basic problem definition.



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Cambridge Journal of Science and Policy

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Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange

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