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Colorado Drilling Health Study Under Review

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COLORADO DRILLING
In this March 29, 2013, file photo, a rig drills for natural gas which will eventually be released using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on leased private property outside Rifle, in western Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado proposal to commission a new study about the health effects of drilling on the Front Range sparked strong emotions Thursday in its first legislative hearing.

The House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee declined to vote Thursday but heard hours of testimony on the proposal. The bill would order the state Health Department to study "health and quality of life effects" of drilling in Adams, Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties.

"This is the sort of thing that government should get involved with," said Irene Fortune, a Loveland chemist who urged lawmakers to spend money on another study about the health effects of oil and gas production.

On the other side, business groups and mineral-rights owners called the proposal unnecessary and predisposed to decry oil and gas drilling.

Neil Ray of the National Association of Royalty Owners called the proposal an "invitation for a subjective attack on oil and gas."

The bill's Democratic sponsor insisted that health effects of oil and gas production have not been adequately studied on the Front Range.

"I am not looking to point a finger at oil and gas and say 'gotcha,'" said Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins. "We're gathering information. That's all this is."

A similar proposal from Ginal was rejected last year amid concerns the drilling effects have already been studied.

"We have this body of research out there that says there is no threat," said Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.

The committee planned to resume work on the proposal next week.

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Kristen Wyatt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt .

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Online:

House Bill 1297: http://bit.ly/1pgCad9

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