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Lawmakers: Oil releases tied to Colorado floods need investigation

Sept. 30, 2013 at 6:08 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The federal government needs to consider the threat Colorado residents coping with flood damage face from oil and natural gas operations, two lawmakers said.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., joined Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, in calling for hearings on oil releases from sites affected by flooding caused by heavy rains this month.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said last week it was tracking eight "notable" releases of oil totaling 641 barrels..

"Congress must deal with this issue to ensure that natural disasters do not also become public health disasters," Polis said in a statement Friday.

The lawmakers called on the committee to assess what sort of threat Colorado residents are facing from the spills. Some of the incidents were associated with hydraulic fracturing operations, a drilling practice that critics say threatens water supplies.

Colorado regulators and energy companies downplayed the severity of the situation.

They said hydraulic fracturing operations were contained and pollution was minimal.

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