Rogue EPA Takes a Second Run at Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing

Here we go again. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today they would once again study hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) as a mining method to extract natural gas. The EPA already spent considerable time and expense in 2004 to study it and found no evidence that fracking threatens drinking water. But Democrats in Congress, led by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (Democrat from Upstate New York), now have control of the EPA and they want a new study. Their claim is that the original study was “flawed” and unduly influenced by then Vice President Dick Cheney.

The EPA is upset that Congress passed a law in 2005 that prevents them from regulating fracking. And the EPA now has a sympathetic ear in Congress, so they’re trying once again to grab hold of an entire industry not within their jurisdiction or charter to regulate. This is their back door way of doing it.

On the matter of fracking and safety, an ABC News article about the EPA announcement today says:

Arthur E. Berman, a Houston-based petroleum geologist who’s questioned the headlong rush to open up shale fields on economic grounds, said the environmental risks have been overblown.

“We have been doing hydraulic fracturing for 50, 60 years and there is no evidence whatsoever that there has been ground or surface water contamination,” he said.

He said only “point-5 percent” of what goes into a well were chemicals, and those were mostly “common chemicals that you would put in your swimming pool or hot tub, something like chlorine.”*

The EPA is spending $1.9 million on the study, and expects to complete it in 2012. MDN sincerely hopes a likely change in the balance of power in Congress after November 2010 will mean a Congress willing to keep a rogue EPA in check.

*ABC News (Mar 18) – EPA to Study ‘Fracking’ Gas Drilling Method

Binghamton Natural Gas Summit: Opening Remarks and Scene-Setting with Scott Kurkoski

Scott Kurkoski Marcellus Drilling News attended the Natural Gas Development Summit held in Binghamton on March 18th at the Regency Hotel. The event was organized and sponsored by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York. There were about 150 people in the audience, made up of landowners, people from the drilling industry (lawyers, energy companies, engineering companies and others), and the press. It was a half day event, starting at 9:30 am and ending at 12:45 pm. MDN will run a series of posts to cover the presentations. This article contains the opening remarks delivered by Scott Kurkoski, a lawyer specializing in mineral rights with Levene, Gouldin & Thompson. Scott was one of the chief organizers of the event and master of ceremonies.

He opened by stating the purpose of the meeting is to have a discussion about the issues, with an aim to move the issue of drilling in New York State forward. He thanked Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala for hosting the event and for her efforts on behalf of landowners.

Scott next provided the background for where we are now in New York, and how we got here. In 1992, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation created a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) to govern oil and gas drilling in New York. Since then, newer technologies (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or “fracing”) have come along and the DEC, under direction from the Governor’s office, drafted Supplemental (new) regulations to account for these new technologies and their use.

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