We can\’t assume drilling is safe

Date: February 28, 2011

AS IF HYDRAULIC fracking were not controversial enough, the process that involves breaking into natural gas deposits deep underground is now the subject of another environmental concern.

A House Energy and Commerce Committee probe showed oil and gas companies injected 32.2 million gallons of fluids with diesel fuel into wells in 19 states, including Pennsylvania, in 2005 to 2009 without federal approval.

This was not supposed to happen.

In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson, three Democrats who pushed the investigation recalled that in 2003 the EPA signed an agreement with the three largest players in hydraulic fracturing to end diesel being used in coal-bed methane formations near underground sources of drinking water. Two years later, the letter noted, Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act except when the fluids contain diesel.

The three representatives – Henry Waxman of California, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Diana DeGette of Colorado – suspect a violation of the act. The companies dispute this, saying the EPA never properly developed regulations. This legal jousting, though, misses a greater point.

While it\’s true that the House probe did not turn up evidence of actual damage to health or the environment, the revelation is subversive of the public trust. As the letter said, “ … many assumed that the industry stopped using diesel fuel altogether in hydraulic fracturing.” That this assumption is now shattered is a public relations black eye for an industry that has basically told the public: “Trust us.”

Lessons abide here for Pennsylvania, home to the rich Marcellus Shale gas. Nothing can be assumed after this news, and the kind of strict enforcement that can be trusted is likely to cost more.


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Reposted from: Times Leader

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.