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Senate group shelves Front Range drilling study

By: The Associated Press
April 29, 2014 Updated: April 29, 2014 at 7:58 pm
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Colorado State Representative Joann Ginal, D-Ft. Collins, shown here in a 2013 file photo, was the sponsor of the proposal to study about the health effects of drilling along Colorado's front range. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

DENVER — A divisive proposal to commission a new study about the health effects of drilling along Colorado's Front Range was defeated Tuesday.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted against the study amid concerns the Health Department already has the ability to study the effects. The measure had already passed in the House.

The bill would have ordered the state Health Department to study "health and quality of life effects" of drilling in Adams, Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties.

Business groups and mineral-rights owners called the proposal unnecessary and predisposed to decry oil and gas drilling.

But the sponsor of the measure, Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, said the study was scientifically organized and simply intended to address resident concerns over the health effects of drilling.

"The people along the Front Range want answers, and they feel they're being ignored," said Ginal, who was skeptical the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment would choose to do the study.

Two Democrats joined Republicans Tuesday in shelving the idea. They said the measure would likely have failed on the Senate floor.

Ginal, who suggested a similar study last year without success, said the proposal would come back in 2015. New drilling technologies have opened up land nearer to population centers for oil and gas drilling, prompting fresh anxiety about drilling and hydraulic fracturing near homes and businesses.

"I'm sad for the people of the Front Range. This is something that they really wanted, to just feel comfortable," Ginal said. "Their voices are silenced again."

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