Link Between Drilling and Pollution
Written by Faith Anderson on December 9, 2011
Fracking May Threaten Groundwater and Health
The EPA announcement has major implications for the rapid increase in gas drilling in recent years, as fracking has been a key component in opening up many reserves in the United States. The process is called hydraulic fracturing and involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to help open up fissures and improve the flow of oil or gas to the surface. The EPA said its announcement is the first step in a process of opening up its findings for review by scientists and the general public. “EPA’s highest priority remains ensuring that Pavillion [Wyoming] residents have access to safe drinking water,” said Jim Martin, the agency’s regional administrator in Denver. “We look forward to having these findings in the draft report informed by a transparent and public review process.”
Wyoming Fracking Process May Be Particularly Dangerous
The EPA also emphasized that the findings are specific to the Pavillion area in central Wyoming, where fracking methods differed from those used elsewhere in regions with different geological characteristics. The fracking occurred below the level of the drinking water aquifer in Pavillion and close to water wells, the EPA reported. Elsewhere, drilling is more remote and fracking occurs much deeper than the level of groundwater that anyone would use.
Efforts to Regulate Fracking in the Works
This EPA finding could have a significant effect in states trying to determine how to regulate the fracking process. In Colorado, regulators are considering requiring oil and gas companies to publicly disclose the chemicals that are used in fracking. The public and industry representatives attended a hearing on the issue on Monday, and, while they all generally supported the proposal, there was concern over whether trade secrets would have to be disclosed and how quickly the information would have to be turned over. Industry representatives say Colorado and Texas are the only states to have moved to consider disclosing all fracking chemicals, not only those considered hazardous by workplace regulators.