Friday, January 13, 2012

The EPA could have been a contender on Fracking


Here’s something interesting to think about as we read the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) response to the Revised Draft SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (September 2011) - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. So, today’s news abounds with the EPA’s letter to the SGEIS report on the safety of Fracking in New York State. The EPA, which is usually responsible for enforcing measures to protect our fresh water for the entire country, had a lot to say:

EPA reaction mixed on DEC fracking review | Democrat and Chronicle | ALBANY — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urged New York regulators to take steps to bolster the state's proposed hydraulic fracturing rules, providing a meticulous, line-by-line critique of its 1,500-page report. Beating a midnight Wednesday deadline to submit comments by less than three hours, the federal agency recommended dozens of ways for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to strengthen its hydrofracking proposals. Those suggestions include beefing up a ban on the technique within two major water supplies and taking a closer look at naturally occurring radioactive material found in gas-drilling waste.  (January 13, 2012] Democrat and Chronicle | Rochester news, community, entertainment, yellow pages and classifieds. Serving Rochester, New York |

Go straight to the horse’s mouth (as we New Yorker’s say) and read the EPA comments to the SGEIS:

Region 2 | US EPA On January 11, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency submitted its comments on New York State's revised draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) and the proposed state regulations and general permit for storm water discharges related to high volume hydraulic fracturing. US Environmental Protection Agency

I am sure that the EPA would have had a lot more to say if they had not be kicked out of the process of regulating the gas drilling operations in all states, including NYS, had it not been exempt from its Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) | Safe Drinking Water Act | US EPA regulatory position.

Those nice people over at Citizens Campaign for the Environment - New York and Connecticut Environmental Protection Preservation and Advocacy give us an encapsulation of happened:

“To recover natural gas deposits in deep shale formations the industry prefers to use hydro-fracking; a process that uses millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals to fracture the shale and release natural gas. Volumes of toxic, caustic, and potentially radioactive liquid waste byproducts are created in the hydro-fracking process, with no real plan for safe treatment and disposal. Effective lobbying by the oil and gas industry has led to key exemptions from a laundry list of environmental safeguards, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, and Superfund. New York’s air, land, water and people are vulnerable to hydro-fracking pollution due to inadequate federal and state oversight.” NATURAL GAS HYDRO-FRACKING IN SHALE | Citizens Campaign for the Environment - New York and Connecticut Environmental Protection Preservation and Advocacy

“Effective lobbying” Good Grief!—as if the oil and gas companies should be proud of themselves. The question that should be answered to the public’s satisfaction is, “Why did Fracking get exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act? “ At long last, after all that has been reported about the well and drinking water issues associated with Fracking, what were our politicians thinking about by exempting Fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act? They certainly couldn’t have been thinking of you.

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