A U.S. Department of Energy panel has issued recommendations for improving the safety and environmental impact of drilling in shale formations for natural gas.
In a report on the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that is used currently in most oil and gas wells, the seven-member Natural Gas Subcommittee called for better tracking and more careful disposal of the waste that comes up from wells, stricter standards on air pollution and greenhouse gases associated with drilling, and the creation of a federal database so the public can better monitor drilling operations.
The report also called for companies to eliminate diesel fuel from their fracking fluid because it includes carcinogenic chemicals, and for companies and regulators to disclose the full list of ingredients used in fracking.
“The public deserves assurance that the full economic, environmental and energy security benefits of shale gas development will be realized without sacrificing public health, environmental protection and safety,” said the report, which was prepared by a subcommittee led by John Deutch, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and a group of energy experts including Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, and Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Federal officials should finance the development of more efficient and clean drilling techniques, the report said, adding that fees and taxes on industry were a legitimate way to pay for needed changes in oversight.
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