Stronger Natural Gas Drilling Rules to Come
There has much discussion and controversy surrounding the natural gas extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. There has been worries about water supplies and other environmental issues that can be a result of the fracking process. The Department of Energy has developed a panel for further discussion on how to improve the safety and reduce the impact of this method. Robbie Brown and Ian Urbina have compiled all the important details discussed so far by the Dept. of Energy.
In a report on the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that is used currently in most oil and gas wells, the seven-member Natural Gas Subcommittee called for better tracking and more careful disposal of the waste that comes up from wells, stricter standards on air pollution and greenhouse gases associated with drilling, and the creation of a federal database so the public can better monitor drilling operations.
The report also called for companies to eliminate diesel fuel from their fracking fluid because it includes carcinogenic chemicals, and for companies and regulators to disclose the full list of ingredients used in fracking.
“The public deserves assurance that the full economic, environmental and energy security benefits of shale gas development will be realized without sacrificing public health, environmental protection and safety,” said the report, which was prepared by a subcommittee led by John Deutch, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and a group of energy experts including Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, and Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund…
…Tracking and handling the drilling waste have been especially problematic in Pennsylvania. Drilling is intense in the state, but there is also a shortage of injection wells for disposal of the wells’ contaminated wastewater and sludge. State regulators considered instituting a manifest system in 2009, but opted against it after the industry staunchlyopposed the proposal.
“We’re issuing a call for industry action,” Mr. Deutch said, “but we are not leaving it to industry alone.”…
However, scrutiny of the industry and questions about what improvements in oversight are needed to proceed safely with this drilling have grown. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently subpoenaed several oil and gas companies about whether they accurately present to investors drilling costs and long-term well performance. The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, was recently assigned to research similar and other questions related to drilling.
Since problems were highlighted, most drilling companies in Pennsylvania have stopped sending their wastewater through treatment plants that were unable to remove many of the contaminants before the water was discharged into rivers. State regulators and drinking water operators are also now testing more regularly for radioactive and other toxic elements in the drilling wastewater.
Federal lawmakers have asked the Energy Information Administration, an arm of the Department of Energy, to answer questions about its natural gas projections and produce documents related to a shale gas Web site that included substantial discussion of the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing.
Let’s hope there is a feasible agreement that is worked out within the Department of Energy. Oil and gas companies will have to comply and hopefully it won’t damper production too much. Shale oil and gas has made a positive impact on the U.S. energy industry, and let’s hope it is able to continue this positive path.
Quote taken from report by Robbie Brown and Ian Urbina, Read the entire article here.
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