USA: Here’s an example of a regulatory agency serving the industry not lthe people | 16Ago2010 19:02:47
US: Public meeting is held to hear complaints about groundwater toxicity from chemicals used in nearby gas wells. Oil companies are exempted from environmental regulations based on a 2005 EPA report that said these chemicals had no negative impact on groundwater. This is known as the "Halliburton Loophole." An EPA whistleblower who attended this meeting said the report was "scientifically unsound." There are publicly available studies documenting more than 1000 cases of groundwater contamination. [Here is another classic example of government agencies serving the very industries they are supposed to regulate.]
Gas problems: Scenes from last night’s EPA meeting in Pittsburgh on Marcellus Shale drilling
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I do not envy the Environmental Protection Administration right now.
In 2004, it conducted a study into Marcellus Shale drilling, which concluded that the “EPA did not find confirmed evidence that drinking water wells have been contaminated by hydraulic fracturing.”
That 2004 study was used to enact the so-called "Halliburton Loophole" — which exempted Marcellus Shale drillers from complying with a slew of environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act.
What you may be thinking is: If drinking water is not contaminated by hydraulic fracturing, why would gas drillers need to be exempted from environmental regulations?
It’s a good question. And a whistleblower came forward from the EPA to offer an answer: the study was “scientifically unsound.”
A subsequent study by ProPublica — just to throw one example out there (because there are many) — found more like 1,000 examples of groundwater contamination from Marcellus Gas wells instead of zero.
This spring, the EPA acknowledged — or at least implied — that they may have overlooked some stuff in 2004 study. And in response, officials within the EPA have scheduled a series of four public gatherings nationwide aimed at understanding public concerns over issues related to drilling for natural gas buried a mile into the earth.
Those four locations were: Fort Worth, Texas on July 8; Denver, Colo. on July 13, Bunghamton, N.Y. on Aug. 12; and last night at the Hilton Garden Inn, about 15 miles south of Pittsburgh.
Why 15 miles south of Pittsburgh? Because there’s a major boom out here. Thousands of wells are being contracted in the more rural counties outside Allegheny County, and drilling leases have been signed not only within Allegheny County (where Pittsburgh sits), but actually within the City of Pittsburgh.
Which concerns some people. Ron Gulla is one of them.
Gulla sold pieces of his land to various drilling companies years ago. He pulled in some major cash — as much as $20,000 per month in the early 1990s — and then he got hit with reality: Not only was his drinking water turning into sludge, and not only was his house beginning to smell of kerosene and gasoline and other chemicals, but his take from the Marcellus Shale wells on his rural property was depreciating alarmingly year by year. Why? Because his neighbors were also selling their mineral rights and also smelling the unpleasant odors of commerce and also washing their faces at night with stinking watery mud seeping from their faucets. In short: The bubble had burst, and all that remained was severely unclean tap water and landowners who didn’t really know what they had gotten themselves into.
July 23rd, 2010, posted by Matt Stroud