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The Daily Local News

Jul 12

Pennsylvania Poison by Halliburton, Tom Corbett, and Gas Barons


Not one of our 12.5 million Pennsylvanians enjoys the fundamental right to self-government in the communities where they live. No wonder we can’t stop the fracking! In January 2008, attorney general Thomas Corbett’s office declared in Commonwealth Court that “There is no inalienable right to local self-government.”

Hydraulic Fracturing and Contamination of Groundwater

July 24, 2009 by: Chris Maeder Courtesy of STW Resources, Inc.

Courtesy of STW Resources, Inc.

The world’s near-future energy needs are primarily dependent on oil & natural gas. There are various techniques involved in the extraction of additional crude oil from underground oil and gas reservoirs. Hydraulic fracturing—informally called fracking (pronounced “fracking”) or hydrofracKing—is the most common of these techniques. A significant number of oil & gas wells in the US use hydraulic fracing.

Hydraulic fracking involves injection of water or chemicals under high pressure into the oil reservoir to create new cracks around the reservoir. The fracking fluid typically consists of sand or propping agents that are used to keep the cracks open. In some cases, fracing fluid may also include toxic chemicals such as diesel oil.

Hydraulic fracking finds a lot of supporters—specifically in the oil and gas fraternity, who maintain that it is a safe technique and is important for the oil and natural gas industry. However, this technique has seen a lot of opposition from environmental groups and scientists, as they consider fracking to be a risky way of oil extraction and suggest that in some cases cracks may spread to drinking water reservoirs, thus contaminating our water supplies.

In the past, there has been a lot of debate around the use of hydraulic fracking for extraction of oil and gas from reservoirs, and its possible adverse impact on water supplies. In 1994, Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF) petitioned the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to withdraw Alabama’s primacy for the underground injection control program as the State did not regulate hydraulic fracking as underground injection in case of coal bed methane operations. In 1997, the Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that hydraulic fracing should be regulated under Federal Law. Later in 2004, a study conducted by the USEPA concluded that hydraulic fracking is safe and poses little or no risk to drinking water. Several USEPA scientists questioned the methodology of this study and the impartiality of the expert panel that reviewed the findings. Based on the USEPA’s findings, hydraulic fracking was also exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which protects the drinking water supplies from contamination with toxic chemicals. Recently, Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) asked the USEPA to conduct a review of its policy on the risk that hydraulic fracking may pose to drinking water supplies.

The USEPA should revisit its policy around hydraulic fracking and support it with a comprehensive study that would help gain clarity and clear the debate around the potential adverse impact of hydraulic fracking on water supplies. Also, drilling companies are currently not legally bound to reveal the ingredients of fracking fluid, which makes it difficult to establish the source of contaminant when a contaminated drinking water supply is located near a drilling site. Therefore, for any ongoing and future drilling operations, the USEPA should make it mandatory for these companies to disclose the ingredients of fracking fluids used. It should also regulate the use of any toxic chemicals contained within the fracking fluid until more clarity is gained on the issue.

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