Pressure Limits Efforts to Police Drilling for Gas

When Congress considered whether to regulate more closely the handling of wastes from oil and gas drilling in the 1980s, it turned to the Environmental Protection Agency to research the matter. E.P.A. researchers concluded that some of the drillers’ waste was hazardous and should be tightly controlled.

Republican Senators Inhofe and Coburn

In its efforts to oppose new federal regulations, the oil and gas industry found allies in Senator James M. Inhofe, left, and Senator Tom Coburn, Republicans from Oklahoma.

But that is not what Congress heard. Some of the recommendations concerning oil and gas waste were eliminated in the final report handed to lawmakers in 1987.

“It was like the science didn’t matter,” Carla Greathouse, the author of the study, said in a recent interview. “The industry was going to get what it wanted, and we were not supposed to stand in the way.”

E.P.A. officials told her, she said, that her findings were altered because of pressure from the Office of Legal Counsel of the White House under Ronald Reagan

More (click here) IAN URBINA, NYTimes

On March the Province of Québec published a report recommending a moratorium on all shale gas “frakking” pending a review of the risks: “The provincial government announced the decision Tuesday just minutes after an environmental assessment board called for a full evaluation of potential risks involved in the drilling and extraction of natural gas from the shale rock formation near populated areas along the Saint-Lawrence River” according to the Globe and Mail (click here) the CBC (click here).

This brought the usual denialist trolls but it also resulted in several other studies describing just how risky the procedure is. For example:

Pressure Limits Efforts to Police Drilling for Gas (from the NYTimes and cited above)

Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers (Detail – click here)

Toxic Contamination From Natural Gas Wells (Graphic – click here)

The New York Times collected data from more than 200 natural gas wells in Pennsylvania. Many of them are tapping into the Marcellus Shale, a vast underground rock formation. But a method being used to stimulate wells, called hydraulic fracturing, produces wastewater containing corrosive salts and radioactive and carcinogenic materials. In Pennsylvania, this wastewater has been sent through sewage treatment plants that cannot remove some of the contaminants before the water is discharged into rivers and streams that provide drinking water. The Times was able to map 149 of the wells.
Toxic Wells

Toxic Wells

Hydro-fracturing has a lucrative dirty secret (Click here)

The B.C. government isn’t asking many questions about a natural-gas-drilling technique involving toxic compounds.

Colin Smith  Biologist Jessica Ernst says that after gas wells were “fracked” near her Alberta home, gas came out of her tap water—so much so that she could light it on fire.

Gwen Johansson lives in what used to be idyllic surroundings a few kilometres west of Fort St. John in B.C.’s northeast. Lately, though, the tranquillity of her home overlooking the placid Peace River has been shattered by an intrusive flow of traffic. Often operating around the clock, heavy-bodied tanker trucks pull off Highway 29 and line up at the riverbank to drop in thick hoses and gun high-volume pumps that suck up thousands of litres of water in just a few minutes. “They’re hauling out of there day and night,” Johansson told the Georgia Straight by phone, “one loading, two more waiting. You can see the amount of water that’s going out.”

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3 Responses to Pressure Limits Efforts to Police Drilling for Gas

  1. Alan Burke says:

    Thanks to “Gnome1” at Globe & Mail commentary for identifying this:

    Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions
    Briefing Note 2011 – 29
    4 February 2011
    Fracking in BC: Integrating climate change issues

  2. Alan Burke says:

    Driller suspends Pennsylvania fracking after blowout

    By Edward McAllister

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Chesapeake Energy suspended the use of a controversial drilling method in Pennsylvania on Thursday as it worked to contain a natural gas well blowout that spilled drilling fluid into local waterways.

    Chesapeake, the state’s largest shale gas driller, planned to use a mix of plastic, ground up tires and heavy mud to plug the well, which has further raised concerns about the safety of the controversial “fracking” drilling process that blasts shale rock with a mix of water, sand and chemicals to release trapped natural gas.

    The fluid from the well in Bradford County initially spilled into a nearby waterway but was now being contained, Chesapeake said in a statement early Thursday. The well spewed thousands of gallons of fracking fluid, county emergency management officials said on Wednesday.

    More …

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