EARTHblog » Aaron Mintzes
February 2, 2012
The Associated Press today printed a story today entitled “Reps scrutinize EPA fracking link in Wyo.” The article describes yesterday’s compelling hearing where the House majority called in to question the scientific credibility of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In December, the EPA issued a draft report linking the contamination of drinking water near Pavillion, WY to hydraulic fracturing activities by EnCana Inc. Since this is the first time a federal agency has acknowledged the dangers fracking poses to drinking water quality, drilling proponents needed to quickly circle the wagons.
Attack the Messenger
The EPA drilled monitoring wells in Pavillion and took measurements for benzene, a known carcinogen. Listening to the committee, we heard the House majority claim only that a second test at the monitoring wells revealed benzene levels half of what was discovered six months before. I guess the implication is that additional testing might reveal even lower levels. It took the minority to point out that the second test, though revealing benzene levels half the initial result from the first- still found benzene at 25 times its safe level.
January 25, 2012
Deep underground the rolling foothills of Appalachia in Southwest Virginia lies a trove of uranium deposits. These deposits have remained untouched for a few billion years, but high metal prices and high unemployment rates have renewed interest in the possibility of mining the uranium for use in area nuclear power plants. The Commonwealth of Virginia has had a moratorium on uranium mining for 30 years. But in 2007, two families living near Virginia’s only economically viable uranium deposit in Coles Hill formed Virginia Uranium, Inc. to begin exploring the possibility of exploiting this resource.
The moratorium has left a dearth of hard rock mining technical expertise in the Commonwealth. For this reason, Virginia called in the National Research Council to report on scientific, environmental, public health, and regulatory aspects of uranium mining to help inform the Virginia legislature.