If you felt the earth tremble beneath your feet this past week, it may not have been because of an earthquake caused by a nearby injection well, or a shale gas well being fracked on your neighbor’s property.
It was more likely because of two things, one good and one bad.
First, the bad news: the EPA confirmed that the presence of contamination in water wells near Pavillion, Wyoming could be due to hydraulic fracturing.
Second, the good news: two states – Texas and Colorado - approved chemical disclosure rules for hydraulic fracturing chemicals on the same day.
The larger victory here: the Colorado rule for the first time elevates the community right to know principle (disclosure) above the narrow economic principle of protecting corporate property.
The door has now been opened for other states and the U.S. Department of Interior to step through. Maybe a federal standard on disclosure would be a good next step.
What’s interesting is watching the industry’s about-face on the issue of public disclosure of fracking chemicals. As many states have passed their own disclosure laws, industry opposition has not just lessened, but actually morphed in to something of a modest embrace. Make no mistake; Halliburton continues to do everything it can to make sure the details of the harmful chemicals they are injecting never see the light of day.
By contrast, a representative from Apache Corporation intimated at yesterday’s subcommittee hearing that industry initially opposed disclosure because of a natural, almost instinctual, resistance to all regulations. Not, of course, because of a genuine need to maintain a competitive advantage, but rather a knee-jerk reaction opposing government efforts to address public health concerns.
Here's another certainty regarding the energy industry: without adequate oversight, well-funded enforcement, and elimination of cozy relationships, it will successfully push the true cost of energy extraction's environmental risk onto communities who will pay the price of polluted land, property, drinking water, and health.
In the aftermath of the election this week, President Obama made remarks that struck fear in the hearts of communities facing natural gas extraction in their backyards.
"We've got, I think, broad agreement that we've got terrific natural gas resources in this country. Are we doing everything we can to develop those?" was the question President Obama asked.
The question he SHOULD have been asking is (find out after the jump):
But they went said nothing -- raising grave doubts about whether the company is being honest about the danger of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells.
As many of you know, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is Halliburton's patented process for injecting huge volumes of chemical-laced fluid into natural gas wells to force deposits to the surface. In 2005, the drilling services company's lobbying opened the Halliburton Loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act, exempting fracking from federal regulation.
Of course, Halliburton assured Congress and the EPA that fracking is safe, but that has not been the experience of people who live near natural gas wells in Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 -- The presidential commission investigating the BP disaster says Halliburton knew before the explosion its drilling cement was faulty but said nothing -- raising grave doubts about whether the company is being honest about the danger of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is Halliburton's patented process for injecting huge volumes of chemical-laced fluid into natural gas wells to force deposits to the surface. In 2005, the drilling services company's lobbying opened the Halliburton Loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act, exempting fracking from federal regulation.