Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Oil and gas well drilling does not taint drinking water"-- Really?

By Other Voices

February 20, 2010, 3:48AM

Oil and gas industry advocate letter:

"Michael Scott's article Sunday ("Family says gas well tainted its water, but state disagrees" poses a simple, straightforward question: "Does oil and gas well drilling really threaten our drinking water?"

The simple and straightforward answer is this: It does not. And while Scott references an exhaustive 2004 Environmental Protection Agency report that confirmed that fracturing does not threaten groundwater, Plain Dealer readers should also be aware that earlier this week, a top EPA drinking-water official stated the same thing -- suggesting further that states, and not the federal government, are best positioned to regulate this critical technology in a way that balances the imperative of responsible energy exploration with the safeguarding of our environment.

As for the claims made by some that the fracturing process requires "diesel fuel" to be injected underground, the reality is actually quite the opposite. The fluids used in the process are made of 99.5 percent water and sand -- with the slight remainder comprised of household materials you're just as likely to find in the kitchen cupboard and beneath the kitchen sink. As for that diesel fuel -- sure, the trucks may run on it, but you won't find it anywhere else.

Lee Fuller, Washington, D.C.

Fuller is executive director of Energy In Depth, a coalition of independent gas producers ("



What about this letter posted at OGAP (Oil & Gas Accountability Project)?


"October 8th, 2004

Weston Wilson
EPA Employee
Denver, Colorado

Honorable Wayne Allard
7340 E. Caley, Suite 215
Englewood, Colorado 80111

Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell
6950 E. Belleview Avenue, Suite 200
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111

Honorable Diana DeGette
600 Grant Street, Suite 202
Denver, Colorado 80203

Dear Senators Allard and Campbell and Representative DeGette,

Recent events at EPA have caused me and several of my peers at EPA great concern. In June of this year, EPA produced a final report pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act that I believe is scientifically unsound and contrary to the purposes of the law. In this report, EPA was to have studied the environmental effects that might result from the injection of toxic fluids used to hydraulically fracture coal beds to produce natural gas. In Colorado, coal beds that produce natural gas occur within aquifers that are used for drinking water supplies. While EPA's report concludes this practice poses little or no threat to underground sources of drinking water, based on the available science and literature, EPA's conclusions are unsupportable. EPA has conducted limited research reaching the unsupported conclusion that this industry practice needs no further study at this time. EPA decisions were supported by a Peer Review Panel; however five of the seven members of this panel appear to have conflicts-of-interest and may benefit from EPA's decision not to conduct further investigation or impose regulatory conditions.

As these matters are complex, I enclose a technical analysis to further inform you and other members of Congress. I invoke the protections under the First Amendment of the Constitution and the Whistleblowers Protection Act should EPA retaliate against me as a result of speaking with you or other members of Congress or speaking to the press or the public regarding this matter. i am a resident of Denver in the first Congressional District of Colorado and I am employed by the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver. I have been employed by the EPA's Regional Office in Denver, since 1974. I am currently assigned to the Office of Ecosystems Protection and Remediation, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPAl Team, I am an environmental engineer assigned to assist EPA with its responsibilities under Section 309 of the Clean Air Act to independently review federal agency's compliance with NEPA. Currently I analyze the environmental impacts of coal mining, gold mining, and oil and gas development on public lands. I serve as the Legislative Advocate for the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3607 representing professional and non-professional employees in EPA Region 8. I have also served as the President of Local 3607 in the past. EPA's failure to regulate the injection of fluids for hydraulic fracturing of coal bed methane reservoirs appears to be improper under the Safe Drinking Water Act and may result in danger to public health and safety. I respectfully request that you investigate this matter and respond as you and other members of Congress deem appropriate.

No comments:

Post a Comment