E.P.A. demands to know composition of fracking fluid

15 09 2010

A drill rig near the town of Pinedale, Wyo. (Credit: Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Apparently New Yorkers, West Virginians and Penn State residents are concerned enough about the effect of hydraulic fracking on their watertables that its got the Environmental Protection Agency touring those states, holding public hearings to discuss it. Now, there’s a thought.

N.Y. Senate has even instituted a ban on fracking until early next year while they examine the practice.

Now, in a even more radical step that appears to be in the public interest, the E.P.A. wants to know what’s in that darned fracking fluid.

I was directed to this article in the NYTimes by a blog calling itself ‘Horn River News’ – whose authors apparently wish to remain anonymous – about the E.P.A. having requested “detailed information about the chemicals contained in fluids used to crack open underground rock formations in the hunt for oil and natural gas.”

Like, could it have caused benzene to show up in water wells in Sublette County, Wyo.? The state with one of the biggest natural gas fields in the U.S.? That’s one of the questions posed by this ProPublica article. Benzene is believed to cause aplastic anemia and leukemia.

Wouldn’t you like to know if that’s being pumped into the groundwater near you? Canada? B.C.? Anyone?

And the E.P.A. sounds serious about what could happen if they don’t get the information in 30 days: ” ‘To the extent that E.P.A. does not receive sufficient data in response to this letter,’ the agency warned, ‘E.P.A. will be exploring legal alternatives to compel submission of the needed information.’ “(source NYTimes) The letters were sent to Halliburton, BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI Energy, RPC Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services and Weatherford International. Oh I hope they have teeth on this threat.

The E.P.A. probably don’t see the irony in the situation, but I do, in a sad-ironic kind of way. They already tested the practice back in 2004 and deemed hydraulic fracking “essentially safe”, exempting it from the Safe Drinking Water Act. The current Congress told them to re-do their homework and report back in 2012.

Would B.C.’s government be interested in the same information?

Should they?

When will it be too late to find out what’s already been released into the bedrock?

Your thoughts.

——

*I like this post, asking the good ol’ average citizen to care: http://boatrocker.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/ignorance-isnt-the-problem/

“The people who know and care – but don’t drive public decisions – are the parents and grandparents of kids sickened by the chemicals; people who rely on truck-delivered water or expensive, energy-intense filtration machines because their wells are poisoned and their tap-water is flammable; and people who hear those stories and feel similar fear, anger and grief as our collective failure to stop fracking continues, and their private nightmare becomes our public one: the toxic industrialization, dewatering and death of our Pennsylvania home.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Boatrocker.

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2 responses

16 09 2010
dubois2

These oil/gas companies have so much money they are able to buy enough politicians to ensure that their dirty operations continue with very little oversight.
That is essentially what has happened IMO. The mantra of the energy multi-nationals has been “no new regulations”, we can self-regulate. And they have. The results haven’t been so great for consumers/citizens, but the CEO”s and the shareholders have done quite well. The Regulatory Capture that has occurred is widespread.

16 09 2010
Philip Mizener

I’m glad you brought this item up.

I am glad the EPA is “re-doing” it’s homework, though saddened it didn’t do it adequately the first time.

It raises for me the question of “How can profits and prophets ( in the sense of those who look to the well-being of current and even more importantly, future generations ) be wed?” It is good that we have voices outside industry speaking up.

I am NOT an “anti-business” type, yet I am also aware of the powerful dangers of the LOVE of money, and the seduction of “the quick buck”, “the quick fix”, “the primary value of the shareholder”.

I don’t think ANY industry can be entirely self-regulating, just as no respectable organization can be fully self-auditing for it’s financials.

There are many more thoughts I could add on this topic, but time and space are limited here. Thanks again for the spotlight on this.

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