In another chapter of “Hey, Why Don’t You Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know,” the Environmental Protection Agency released findings linking fracking – the hydraulic fracturing of bed rock to release natural gas – to the poisoning of the water supply.
It stands to reason, one would think, that if you’re going to pump hundreds of chemicals into the ground, those chemicals are going to find a home elsewhere, oozing through the layers and polluting the ground and water in the area around it.
But natural gas is supposedly the next energy boom!
Yeah, and there’s a crap-load of money to be made off of it, whether it’s safe or not, and we all know that safety is not necessarily the top priority of the energy companies. No, their top priority would be their bottom line – dollars, people! – safety be damned. How do we know this? Because the gas companies have gone to great lengths to protect their proprietary property, also known as the deadly combination of chemicals used in the fracking process.
The EPA’s findings came after an investigation into the ground water contamination near Pavillion, WY:
Detection of high concentrations of benzene, xylenes, gasoline range organics, diesel range organics, and total purgeable hydrocarbons in ground water samples from shallow monitoring wells near pits indicates that pits are a source of shallow ground water contamination in the area of investigation. When considered separately, pits represent potential source terms for localized ground water plumes of unknown extent. When considered as whole they represent potential broader contamination of shallow ground water.
Alternative explanations were carefully considered to explain individual sets of data. However, when considered together with other lines of evidence, the data indicates likely impact to ground water that can be explained by hydraulic fracturing.
That, however, is not going to stop the industry’s stooges from raising a stink, as AlterNet reports:
The EPA’s findings immediately triggered what is sure to become a heated political debate as members of Congress consider afresh proposals to regulate fracking. After a phone call with EPA chief Lisa Jackson this morning, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told a Senate panel that he found the agency’s report on the Pavillion-area contamination “offensive.” Inhofe’s office had challenged the EPA’s investigation in Wyoming last year, accusing the agency of bias.
But despite Inhofe’s asinine protestations, this is a positive turning point. Many states, including my home state of Colorado, where water is a precious commodity, are moving toward requiring the disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process. In fact, Colorado just passed new regulations requiring gas companies to disclose the chemicals used. From KDVR:
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a measure requiring that natural gas drillers disclose all the ingredients in their hydraulic fracking fluid.
Companies must also give local officials 48 hours’ notice of fracking operations.
For chemicals to be protected as trade secrets and not disclosed, companies will now have to provide the state with a request explaining why.
“Operators will disclose their identity and their concentration in the fluid,” said Dave Neslin, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. “And that was important information for the purposes of transparency and to build public confidence.”
Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming have also proposed or adopted rules requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals.
If we don’t hold these companies accountable for their impact on the environment, they’ll run slip-shod all over creation, as we walk through a veritable wasteland of contaminated land and water.
That, Jackass Inhofe, is truly “offensive.”