U.S. Senate Holds Hearing on Natural Gas Drilling & Hydraulic Fracturing

Federal regulation (MDN would argue federal “interference”) in regulating natural gas drilling is an important issue. MDN maintains that the U.S. Constitution grants the states the right to govern what happens inside their own borders, and that the federal government has too often usurped and trampled those rights in the name of protecting the public. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a prime example of a federal agency that frequently goes too far and oversteps its bounds. The EPA is an unelected group of people that create regulations with the force of law that are forced on states and businesses.

However, Congress seems to do what it wants to do, and agencies like the EPA are a reality we all must live with. So when Congress holds hearings and the star witness is the EPA and the topic is drilling in the Marcellus Shale and hydraulic fracturing, everyone, both for and against drilling, needs to pay attention.

Yesterday the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing titled “Natural Gas Drilling: Public Health and Environmental Impacts.” MDN believes there is much to learn in the opening statements by the Senators, and in the testimony from the witnesses who testified before the hearing.

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EPA Statement at Senate Hearing Outlines the Main Arguments Against Drilling

The first witness before the April 12 Senate hearing on natural gas drilling was Robert Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is currently conducting a multi-year study of the 60 year-old practice of hydraulic fracturing on the basis and claim that it may be harmful to water supplies, and since protection of the nation’s waterways has been assumed by the EPA, hydraulic fracturing (if found to be harmful) would come under the EPA’s jurisdiction and regulation. It is a back door way for the EPA to control natural gas drilling in this country.

The following is a small portion of Mr. Perciasepe’s statement before the hearing. MDN highlights it as an excellent summary of the main arguments that come from those who oppose drilling in the Marcellus Shale and other shale gas plays.

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Senate Hearing on Natural Gas Drilling – Sen. Inhofe

The following is the opening statement by the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). Sen. Inhofe offers comments from state regulators about the safety of hydraulic fracturing, and his opinion on federal vs. state regulation of it.

On March 17, 1949, more than 60 years ago, the first hydraulic fracturing job was performed on a well 12 miles east of Duncan, in my home state of Oklahoma. The practice has now been used on more than 1 million currently producing wells, 35,000 wells per year, without one confirmed case of groundwater contamination from these fracked formations. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s hear what the experts, the State regulators, have said:

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