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Colorado leads the way in energy boom

Governor touts university's role in production of clean-burning natural gas

1/18/2012
Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks about the clean-burning and job-creating benefits of natural gas

DENVER - At a gathering of diverse stakeholders, Gov. John Hickenlooper touted the university's role in researching responsible extraction methods for natural gas.

Hickenlooper spoke at the forum, "Drawing the Blueprint for a Sustainable Natural Gas Future," held today at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

The forum brought together more than 100 representatives of research universities, oil and gas industry, environmental organizations and government officials.

It was organized by the university's School of Public Affairs and was hosted by Alice Madden, the Wirth Chair in Sustainable Development. In introducing the all-day event, Madden said the forum's objective was to focus on how natural gas extraction can be done in the safest, least-intrusive and most sustainable manner possible.

"Colorado has a recent history of healthily wary yet productive collaboration between folks that most would consider strange bedfellows," Madden said. "We have the natural gas industry and the environmental community working hard together; today we add academics to that mix."

Hickenlooper, who is a geologist, said Colorado played an instrumental role in developing the extraction technology to where it is today. And vast stores of natural gas are held deep underground across the globe. "Most of this new technology took place here in Colorado," Hickenlooper said. "Whether it came out of the Colorado School of Mines, segments of private industry, the research out of CU, it defines this truly revolutionary series of breakthroughs and it defines Colorado in a very powerful way."

Research into subjects associated with natural gas extraction and policy is being conducted across the CU System, including at the University of Colorado Denver's College of Engineering and Applied Science and School of Public Affairs. Also, research is taking place at the Colorado School of Public Health.

Hickenlooper said a key challenge for the oil and gas industry is to break down barriers of understanding how the resource is extracted - commonly called "fracking" - between the broader public and science.

Although the public's concerns around fracking have grown, the governor noted that Colorado has the most rigorous fracking fluid disclosure rules in the natioin.

Colorado, along with several other states, is lobbying for mass production of vehicles that will run on clean-burning compressed natural gas, he said. Hickenlooper said the resource offers a trifecta of opportunity and that Colorado is on the leading edge of maximizing its potential."It burns cleaner, is less expensive and is able to put Americans to work," he said. "It's a remarkably great opportunity."

Input from the attendees will be used to develop future research topics with the end goal of improving the extraction process, including minimizing any chance of water contamination and reducing burdens on local communities.

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