DENVER (CBS4) – Natural gas production in Colorado could increase dramatically over the next few years after the Department of Energy cleared the way for more gas to be exported.

The department has approved a $10 billion export facility in Texas.

All that means Colorado, which is already one of the Top 5 producers of natural gas in the country, could become a leading exporter.

Right now there are more than 50,000 active wells in Colorado. Drilling in the state has more than doubled over the last decade.

“We could easily ramp up production to meet any increase in demand,” said Kathleen Sgamma, a spokeswoman for Western Energy Alliance.

Sgamma says more demand means more jobs. The industry estimates exports could create up to a 150,000 jobs nationwide.

“It’s good for jobs. It’s good for the local economy and it’s good for Colorado,” Sgamma said.

Andrea Roy, an opponent of hydraulic fracturing, says she understands the state needs jobs but she’s worried what more fracking means for her kids health. There’s a well just around the corner from her house and the park where her kids play.

“Increased exports means increased fracking means increased air quality issues,” she said. “I can only imagine how much more drilling I’m going to see around here.”

Roy is part of a statewide mom’s group pushing for tighter regulation.

“We need public health studies. We need answers and we need more regulation,” she said.

The state is in the process of stregthening air quality controls, but increased regulations have been met with resistance at the capitol in Denver. Gov. John Hickenlooper is blamed with killing bill after bill.

Nevertheless, if the industry wants to grow it will need local government support, too, and many have enacted moratoriums or outright bans on fracking.

“I think it’s a continual educational process,” Sgamma said.

Roy agrees that more people do need to get educated.

“To sit back and think that it’s not going to happen to you? That’s naive,” she said.


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