Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gas Fracking Poses Serious Environmental Risks, U.S. Panel Finds


"Natural-gas companies risk causing serious environmental damage from hydraulic fracturing unless they commit to the best engineering practices, a task force named by Energy Secretary Steven Chu concluded.

Regulations to protect public health will work best when drillers embrace techniques that avoid “undesirable consequences,” according to a draft report today by a subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. The increased use of fracturing, or fracking, which forces water and chemicals into rock, raises the potential for a “serious problem,” the panel found.

The report offered recommendations for companies involved in fracking, such as Chesapeake Energy Inc. and Southwestern Energy Co. (SWN), to follow, and guidelines for state regulators that oversee drilling.

“While many states and several federal agencies regulate aspects of these operations, the efficacy of the regulations is far from clear,” according to the report. “Effective action requires both strong regulation and a shale-gas industry in which all participating companies are committed to continuous improvement.”

The Environmental Working Group in Washington, which advocates for clean air and water, questioned the findings of a panel it said was dominated by the gas industry. The Independent Petroleum Association of America in Washington, which represents oil and gas companies, said the report marks “a useful starting point,” for discussions." More>>>>Link

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