Several Democrats in on the House Natural Resources Committee say the Interior Department’s draft plan to regulate oil and gas fracking is too weak and even worse than an earlier proposal. Ranking Democrat Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and five colleagues wrote a letter saying the rule gives industry too much leeway to avoid chemical disclosure requirements by claiming trade secrets.
The lawmakers also say the rule would also allow many wells in a given oil and gas field to escape oversight, alleging it assumes “if one well is safe, all wells are safe.”
“Unfortunately, the revised draft does little to address those comments of concern and instead deviates further from ensuring public health and safety by minimizing procedural and technical safeguards,” it states.
Rep. Diana DeGette, Democrat form Colorado also wrote a letter to the BLM saying the rule, which would govern fracking on federal lands, makes it too easy to evade the provision that requires disclosure of chemicals used in the process.
“It’s too simple for claimants to compromise disclosure by seeking trade secret protection for chemicals that do not qualify. An effective trade secret claims process requires substantiation of need from the claimant, verification of need by the governing party, and the right to public challenge of a claim,” she wrote.
One of the major concerns of environmentalists and home-owner groups is the lack of disclosure of what chemicals the oil and gas companies are dumping into the ground that could leak into ground water and aquifers.
Meanwhile, the pro-fracking lobby, The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), sent a letter last Thursday to Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service saying his agency “went rogue” when it sent a letter to the Energy Department raising questions about fracking on government lands.
The IPAA is upset that the Park Service cited the research of a Cornell University professor who alleges shale gas development is a “gangplank to more [global] warming” due to leaks of the potent greenhouse gas methane.
The Cornell study argues that methane emissions from these shale gas projects (fracking) mean that shale gas ultimately brings climate consequences comparable to coal over a century, and worse than coal over two decades..
The study concluded that the potent methane emissions in the production process from leaks in valves and flaring more than compensate for the fact that burning natural gas for power brings far fewer carbon dioxide emissions that burning coal. The study also notes that, depending on the estimates used, conventionally produced gas may add more to climate change than coal over the 20-year horizon.
The IPAA has paid in-house experts” that refute the independent Cornell study.
We might as well stop fracking gas and burn coal some say since cola ends up being cleaner. Perhaps a better way would be to force gas companies to tighten up their controls and stop flaring.
These exchanges are typical skirmishes wages between the Oil and gas industry and groups concerned with the much bigger battle over climate change and the U.S. natural-gas boom.
Fracking has resulted in an economic boom to communities across the nation, and it is going a long way to give the United States energy independence. We need the energy and we need the economic boost that fracking is providing.
The real challenge is whether the government will force oil and gas companies, the most profitable corporations in the history of the world, to spend a tiny fraction of their exorbitant profits and their obscene executive bonuses to protect the environment and stop dumping methane gas into the atmosphere when it can be prevented..
The reach of the oil and gas lobby is exposed when agencies like the BLM propose watered down rules. Hopefully Congress will stand up to them—the Democrats at least. We will see.