Posting in Energy
A lapse of government oversight permitted oil service companies to pump the ground full of diesel fuel during the past decade. Nobody should be surprised about that happening: the foxes were left guarding the hen house.
The U.S. federal government gave its tacit approval to oil and gas service companies to pollute drinking water by failing to regulate hydraulic fracturing mining activities throughout the past decade. It is my belief that nobody will ever be held responsible - in spite of any harm done.
Why should anyone be surprised? The EPA was created for a reason. Disjointed States' rules and inept local officials failed to adequately safeguard the public's interest.
President Richard Nixon had the wisdom to call for "a strong, independent agency" after years of deliberation and study of the nation's environmental problems. Unfortunately, some now view the agency's mission through an ideological lens, eschewing Nixon's pragmatism.
The absence of federal oversight into the activities of hydro-frackers during the Bush era left the door open for the polluters to pollute just as before the creation of the EPA in 1970 and passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974.
That is evidence that the reasoning behind the EPA's formation was true in the 1970's, and it's just as true now. What alternative is there? The economist Ronald Coase preferred well-defined property rights over regulation, but that is an idealist's viewpoint.
The foxes cannot guard the hen house
Oil service providers have far deeper pockets than mom and pop, or even entire communities. The fight is essentially fixed: the little guy can't match the deep legal bench that massive, international firms have. The federal government can.
It saddens me to see the responsibility of drafting hydro-fracking regulations is frequently being kicked down to the State level, where mining companies can exert more influence. Diesel fuel that contaminates groundwater in Pennsylvania will not stay within Pennsylvania. The boundaries drawn are maps are nothing more than imaginary lines.
I hate to pick on my home state, but Pennsylvania has just recently begun deliberating requiring oil service companies to disclose the chemical mixes that are being pumped into the ground as part of the mining process.
Meanwhile, residents are left with drinking water that's allegedly contaminated by those unknown chemicals. Don't think that it stops there: There are millions of people living downstream, and millions of gallons of fluid was injected into the Earth.
John Heinz, the late Republican Senator that hailed from PA, was instrumental in the creation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed; environmental stewardship was part of his legacy. I recall driving down the PA turnpike seeing roadsigns telling travelers to "report all spills."
The watershed was created expressly for this express purpose: groundwater pollution is not contained by lines drawn on the map. Regulations are created for a reason, but it's easy to forget what that reason was when there's an immediate demand for energy and jobs.
Mining for natural gas is necessary in our energy hungry society, but hydro-fracking companies must be held responsible for any negligence and mine responsibly. Don't hold your breath that the wrongs of the past decade will be set right - the oil service firms got away with it while they could.
Illustration: Energy in Depth
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Jan 31, 2011
The hydrofracking industry is signing up pseudo-scientists to help them push this devastating process in NY. Here in the Hudson Valley, the pseudo-scientists like George Baum, chair of the Kent NY Conservation Advisory Committee (yes, the town actually appointed a pro-polluter to their conservation commission!) stands to personally profit from this disgraceful, polluting practice. As we've come to learn, you just need to "follow the money" to see why they support fracking. Shame on the "wolves in sheep's clothing" who have sold out for the almighty dollar!
where are your facts to backup your broad reaching anecdotal claims? I think this is just the latest crisis du jour. Now walk back to your cave which I assume has no lights or heat or plastics.
My mother still has well water at her house. I'm not certain what the source of her aquifer is, but this practice worries me.
Interesting diagram. It implies groundwater is only found in one layer near the surface, when in fact water permeates down into every connected fracture and space. Since petroleum products are generally lighter than water, they of course will float up to the top the zone of saturation, the water table. Along the way, they can get pumped up by wells, and flow out with the groundwater as stream and river baseflow. How could any thinking person believe that fracking would not pollute the water?
fracking to state and local environmental entities rather than the Federal govt thru EPA is laughable. The EPA was created for situations just like this where state governments simply fall down in regulation. The Bush Administration simplyi did not believe in environmental regulation or enforcement and that has been well documented..ProPublica.org has reams and reams of articles about lax state enforcement of gas driilling and Gasland is a well known documentary about lax state enforcement of gas drilling. I know it is conterintuitive but in terms of environmental regulation and protection the EPA has a better record of enforcement than state and local agencies.. locals wont solve it sorry.
What I don't understand is why you think that federal regulators will somehow do a better job of regulating than locals or anybody else for that matter. Why do you assume that because someone is a federal official that they will somehow be immune to the problems that come with power. What guarantee is there that a federal program could properly oversee the things? In the article, you highlight a problem that business given too much power will probably not work for the benefit of anyone but themselves. Yeah that is the problem of human nature and power. How does giving more power to other humans in a regulatory scheme fix the other problem? Who watches the watchers in this system? In fact, by removing the watchers from local control don't you make it harder for locals to tackle on the ground problems, and make it easier for big corporations to influence the watchers without anyone else noticing? So is your solution a real solution?
I think your article understates the situation. Let's put all the cards on the table. Fracking threatens the water supply of over 100 million Americans. It is a pending disaster that will make the recent Gulf spill look like a hiccup. It will ruin the ground water across large swaths of America - a disaster that will be permanent on a human scale. The frackers claim that their wells are much deeper than the aquifer, but all it takes is a problem with the casing going down into the well for their poisons and natural gas to leach into the water table. They can't promise that it won't happen, and it's almost guaranteed that it will, over and over again, as it already has. This issue should be at the top of everyone's list! See the documentary Gasland, and stop the gas companies before it's too late!
There have been reported leakages from test wells here in the Province of Quebec. There have been public hearings on this issue and the government here is starting to have a very hard look at the continuation of gas drilling through horizontal fracturing. It is the opinion of many people here that unless the companies agree to fully disclose the nature of the "brew" that is being pumped into the ground which traverses and may affect the water table, then they can not and must not continue this exploration/exploitation. The argument of the drilling companies regarding the proprietary composition of the fracking material on competitive grounds is invalid and unacceptable. Unless the companies can come clean and clearly demonstrate the safety of the process, they should leave. We simply do not need any new attacks on the environment and the onus is on the exploration companies to fully demonstrate the environmental safety of the extraction method. And if the shareholders don't like it......tough!
No. Fracking has been around since the 1940s and has been self regulated the entire time. Republicans and Democrats have let this monster run amok for decades.