Continuing public and policy debate on hydraulic fracturing has filled headlines over the past few weeks, with activity in a congressional committee, a regulatory agency, a major state, and the courts.
At a Senate field hearing in Seattle, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz testified that increased domestic oil and gas production has not only been a positive for the US economy, but also for the environment.
“The natural gas boom, in particular, has led to the displacement of high-carbon coal with low-carbon natural gas producing fewer emissions,” Moniz said at the hearing chaired by top Senate Natural Resources Committee Democrat Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
Moniz, a former MIT professor, has long highlighted the role of, and benefits provided by, increased energy production through fracturing.
EPA Study and PESA Comments
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s on-going study on the relationship between fracturing and drinking water entered its next phase with the completion of a review by EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The EPA found no evidence hydraulic fracturing has “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”
The SAB’s review asked EPA for more data, despite hundreds of supporting studies. PESA has urged EPA and the SAB to follow science, noting EPA’s conclusion “is sound, valid, and supported by EPA’s comprehensive review, outside expertise, and published scientific research.”
Following the release of the SAB’s review, PESA President Leslie Beyer noted that “the safe use of fracturing, backed by sound science and bolstered by continuous technology improvements, has provided our nation with significant reductions in GHG emissions and lower energy costs.” Fracturing “should be embraced as a win for our nation.”
Colorado Ballot Initiatives
In Colorado, anti-fracturing activist groups announced they have collected enough signatures to place two ballot initiatives on the state’s election ballot in November. State election officials still need to certify the accuracy of the signatures before they are officially placed on ballot.
One of the measures would allow local communities to block oil and gas operations, while the second would establish a 2,500 buffer zone around buildings, waterways, and public spaces. The setback requirement would place 90 percent of the state off-limits to drilling, according to a report from the state oil and gas regulator. For more information on the initiatives, please visit www.protectcolorado.com.
BLM Fracturing Rules
Earlier this summer, a federal court in Wyoming threw out US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulations covering fracturing on federal lands.
The federal government appealed the decision, recently filing arguments with the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The initial court decision, and the issue to be decided in the appeal, centers around whether or not the BLM has statutory authority to issue requirements covering fracturing.