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Hydrofracting effects dire to drinking water

A recent e-newsletter by the First District representative was critical of the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming its policies to be hurting jobs and the economy.
It announced efforts by Congressman Phil Roe to prevent any new and “overreaching, burdensome regulations [by] the Obama Administration’s EPA.”
There is one particular industrial activity the Congressman seems eager to shield from regulatory oversight.
“A new regulation on hydraulic fracturing, a well-regulated natural-gas drilling technology under the Clean Water Act, would greatly harm domestic energy production,” the newsletter states, and “kill thousands of energy jobs.”
To assert hydraulic fracturing to be well-regulated is misleading and erroneous.
The industry is exempt from many national laws that safeguard environmental and public health. It need not report for the Toxic Release Inventory, for example, discharges of chemicals contained in the fluids used in drilling operations. It was released by the previous Administration from Clean Water Action obligations to control construction run-off pollution.
It was exempted from Safe Drinking Water Act provisions for safety of underground waste injection. It need not abide by Clean Air Act provisions, which regulate industrial emissions.
Under a “Halliburton Loophole” in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, drilling companies are not required to tell residents or state agencies, nor even physicians or hospitals in public-health emergencies, the identity of toxic chemicals used at drilling sites.
Enormous expansion of the technology in the last decade, with 30,000 new wells being opened each year, has raised concerns about water contamination near drilling sites.
Thousands of cases of contamination have been found, as ProPublica revealed in a series of investigative reports. Cattle in Louisiana died after drinking from puddles of discharge from drilling wells; a Pennsylvania farm’s beef cattle were quarantined when drilling-well fluid leakage killed the grass in their field. Cancer and other illnesses have been reported by residents near drilling sites.
In a small town in Wyoming with extensive natural-gas development, the EPA three months ago warned residents that their water not only was not drinkable, but could explode. The Agency told residents they should “use fans and ventilation when showering or washing clothes in order to avoid the risk of an explosion.”
The EPA has not issued “a new regulation” or policy as Roe asserts. It has begun a scientific study, however, to be completed by December 2012, of the risks to the nation’s drinking water from hydraulic fracturing. This seems a highly appropriate and urgently needful thing to do.