Fracking to receive closer scrutiny by the EPA

And it's about fracking time:

The streams of people came to the public meeting here armed with stories of yellowed and foul-smelling well water, deformed livestock, poisoned fish and itchy skin.

The culprit, these people argued, was hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting natural gas that involves blasting underground rock with a cocktail of water, sand and chemicals.

NC's DWQ should take steps immediately to postpone issuing permits for our "gas rush", until more is known about the impacts of this technique.

The fossil fuel industry's arguments in this case are becoming archetypical

The revenue benefits for government are huge.

An industry-financed study published this week suggested that as much as $6 billion in government revenue and up to 280,000 jobs could be at stake in the Marcellus Shale region.

This is the way it's done everywhere, so messing around with our process could spell doom for all those benefits.

Fracking has been around for decades, and it is an increasingly prominent tool in the effort to unlock previously unreachable gas reserves. The oil and gas industry estimates that 90 percent of the more than 450,000 operating gas wells in the United States rely on hydraulic fracturing.

Besides, it's totally safe, and reports to the contrary are false.

Roughly 99.5 percent of the fluids typically used in fracking, the industry says, are just water and sand, with trace amounts of chemical thickeners, lubricants and other compounds added to help the process along. The cocktail is injected thousands of feet below the water table and, the industry argues, can’t possibly be responsible for growing complaints of spoiled streams and wells.

As with most other issues like this, the industry controls virtually all of the technical information available; meaning the argument is waged between "experts" and superstitious peasants.

As to the "why" it's taken so long for the EPA to get more deeply involved:

A renewed, if unlikely, push is also under way to pass federal legislation that would undo an exemption introduced under the Bush administration that critics say freed hydraulic fracturing from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Big surprise.


Thanks for the link, Fredly

Of note:

Similar concerns have been bubbling up at the federal level. Last summer Colorado Democratic Representatives Diana DeGette and Jared Polis, along with New York Democrat Maurice Hinchey, introduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, which aims to close the Halliburton Loophole and revive the EPA's power to regulate or prohibit fracking fluids. Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey signed on as the Senate sponsor. After the twin bills were introduced, they were sent to California Democrat Henry Waxman, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who opened an investigation in February. On Hinchey's request, the EPA launched its own investigation. (New York State Assembly member Steven Englebright introduced a bill in April to ban hydrofracking in the state until the EPA finishes its study.)

We need to follow this closely.