Another Marcellus gas well exploded and this time two workers were killed. DEP responded promptly this time because, apparently, someone notified them in time and I have to wonder how many more wells are going to explode, how many houses will follow as gas seeps up through the ground from fracking and whether the ground water near this explosion is now poisoned.
The EPA is conducting some public hearings on hydro fracturing and 1200 people showed up for one in western Pennsylvania to listen to oil and gas industry spokespeople claim no one has ever proven gas has contaminated ground water. That is correct bit consider why: since Dick Cheney’s energy task force exempted them from the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act the EPA has no authority to test the air, water or ground for contaminants, the industry doesn’t have to tell us what they’re putting into this fracking fluid (it isn’t water after you infuse it with hundreds of toxic chemicals and substances), and science isn’t exact enough to prove beyond a doubt any direct causal relationship.
Of course it doesn’t take a genius to understand that people live for hundreds of years on using water supplies then cannot directly after wells are drilled. It doesn’t take a genius to know if there’s enough gas in your water you can light it on fire the gas came from somewhere new, perhaps that well across the road…
Some of Mark Critz’s brilliant campaign people were on Facebook this week claiming no wells have been contaminated and that its all about “jobs, jobs, jobs!” Yes, theirs. What good are jobs when all the people are being poisoned? The jobs won’t help much once we’re all dead. If wells aren’t being contaminated by this drilling why is DEP providing replacement water to hundreds of people?
Congressman Joe Sestak is now calling on the EPA to investigate and prevent water supply contamination. Though he sees the economic benefits from gas exploration he thinks it must be done safely and responsibly:
“There is extraordinary economic potential associated with the development of Marcellus Shale resources,” said Congressman Sestak. “However, as the oil spill in the Gulf reminds us, there is also great risk. It is, therefore, critical that this study is detailed and completed in a transparent manner. I encourage the EPA to create a thorough and scientifically based study, and I suggest that they do so in as expeditious a manner as feasible, given strong economic pressures and rapid development already taking place, especially in Pennsylvania.”
In his comments, the Congressman outlined key points which the study must address: the impact of many wells in a small area, as is already the case in Pennsylvania; the effectiveness of municipal wastewater treatment systems in handling the fluid drawn out of the wells; standard engineering controls and safety practices related to the drilling technology; and the risks posed by abandoned wells, acknowledging that more than one-half of the location of Pennsylvania’s abandoned oil and gas wells are unknown.
“Communities in Pennsylvania are facing significant amounts of drilling in relatively small areas,” said Congressman Sestak in his comments. “They were approved and initiated prior to this study, and created, I believe, in an expeditious manner that is potentially harmful. While we must understand the impact of fracking in individual wells, this study must also consider anticipated high-density drilling in relatively short periods of time to account for the cumulative effects of drilling on a region’s drinking water supply.”
Along with these comments, Congressman Sestak has joined Senator Casey in support of the FRAC Act, which would restore Safe Drinking Water Act protections for drilling operations using fracture drilling. In addition, after a blowout and explosion at a drilling site in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania last month, Congressman Sestak wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to urge improved safety measures to protect Pennsylvanians from the potentially detrimental effects of hydraulic fracturing noting that oversight was inadequate and putting workers at risk.
Individuals or organizations wishing to contribute written comments to the EPA regarding the proposed hydraulic fracturing research study can do so from now until September 1, 2010 by emailing comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mailing them to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Mail code 4606M,
Washington, DC 20460