Hydrofracking provision in Congress – Another process foul

The CapitolA few weeks ago, I talked about my disappointment with Congress for sneaking the so-called “transparency” provision into the Financial Regulatory Reform Bill. It appears Congress has done it again.

At the eleventh hour, without any debate or committee markup, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slipped language into the Senate energy bill last week (page 404 of the 409-page bill) targeting hydraulic fracturing.  “Hydrofracking,” as it is called, is a process that has been safely used for decades to unlock natural gas trapped in tight shale formations. Even though this process has been regulated for years at the state level, Section 4301 of the Reid bill would now require new federal regulations and oversight of the disclosure of the chemicals used in this process.

We’re not the only ones who noticed this last-minute add. Last week, an article in Politico raised concerns about the same issue.

We support disclosure of ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing fluids, including on a site-specific basis. But we don’t support Senator Reid’s proposal for achieving it.  Section 4301 suffers some serious flaws– flaws that could have been fixed had it been fully debated in public or subjected to the normal committee process.

Most importantly, we feel disclosure should be made at the state level without additional and unnecessary regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the federal government. State regulations are the most comprehensive and effective means of protecting groundwater and the environment because they take into account local geology and other factors specific to each unique location.  And states are acting on the fluid disclosure issue, with several important unconventional gas production states recently enacting or proposing new disclosure requirements (such as Colorado, Wyoming, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and New York).  We’ve been following these state guidelines and are working with industry to develop best practices.

Hydraulic fracturing is vital to the commercial production of America’s natural gas resources.  It will enable increased domestic production, which means more jobs, greater environmental and economic benefits, and improved energy security.  And it’s been used safely for more than 60 years.

In fact, Congressional testimony by the Ground Water Protection Council and the EPA in 2009 affirmed that there has not been a single case where hydraulic fracturing has caused groundwater contamination.  Not one.

If changes need to be made to reporting requirements or regulations surrounding hydraulic fracturing, we are happy to discuss them and help reach a consensus on solutions.  Slipping poorly drafted language into broad energy legislation in the middle of the night is not the way to do it.


4 Comments

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  1. David Gould says:

    Hydrofracking has been around. Yet high-volume, horizontal, slickwater hydrofracking — the very process used in said shale — is far newer.

  2. Robert Hubbell says:

    Doesn’t take long for the lies, half-truths and misdirection to start in this article: ” ‘Hydrofracking,’ as it is called, is a process that has been safely used for decades”

    This is a misleading half-truth. Low-pressure, water only hydraulic fracturing has indeed been used safely for years to frack not only gas wells but also drinking wells.

    Other than the fact that it involves injecting fluids under ground at increased pressures, it bears almost no resemblance to the slick water high pressure horizontal hydraulic fracturing being practiced in today’s gas fields.

    The differences are significant and dangerous. Rather than H2O, today’s fracking uses a mix of chemicals, the precise nature of which is almost always kept secret, but which is known to include diesel fuel, carcinogens, and highly reactive salts. The pressures and quantities of fluids have been increased by orders of magnitude.

    The back flow out of the well is contaminated with cancer causing radioactive elements such as radon which was previously safely trapped underground. Other contaminants brought to the surface include benzene and toulene.

    There are many more differences, and the industry is well aware of them. It specifically instructs its landmen not to discuss the difference between hydraulic fracturing and slick-water hydraulic fracturing.
    http://www.archive.org/details/TalkingPointsForSellingOilAndGasLeaseRights

    What you can be sure of, is if here is one lie they are telling you, there are many more you are unaware of. I wouldn’t believe a thing in this article.

  3. george lazar says:

    Sorry Exxon Mobile but I have to go with Mr. Hubbell on this one. I can believe what he says more easily than I can believe you.
    First of all , you are in a very big hurry to get this fracking thing started and there must be a reason why you have started this advertising campaign now. Someone decided that it will be financially beneficial for you to do this now…high fuel prices maybe?
    I’m afraid that I do not believe you when you say that everything is going to be alright. You may be able to sell the Big Lie to America but not to me.
    I suggest that you prove that Oil fracking is safe by starting out very slowly with a few well chosen(not necessarily by you)test sites and see how it goes. I think that an unbiased body of scientists could evaluate this new industry in say five to ten years to see just what ,if any, problems might arise.
    You don’t have to be in such a big hurry….you HAVE heard the expression “Better safe than sorry”?

    • george lazar says:

      Silly me! Now that I have looked further into this matter…
      The studies are available already and I found them on a site called “Source Watch”… Interesting information that includes an exciting video showing tap water on fire!
      Find out about The Halliburton Clause which allows the Oil industry to bypass EPA rules and standards by not having to disclose the chemicals that are used in the fracking process.
      The plot thickens!

  4. David Gould says:

    Hydrofracking has been around. Yet high-volume, horizontal, slickwater hydrofracking — the very process used in said shale — is far newer.

  5. Robert Hubbell says:

    Doesn’t take long for the lies, half-truths and misdirection to start in this article: ” ‘Hydrofracking,’ as it is called, is a process that has been safely used for decades”

    This is a misleading half-truth. Low-pressure, water only hydraulic fracturing has indeed been used safely for years to frack not only gas wells but also drinking wells.

    Other than the fact that it involves injecting fluids under ground at increased pressures, it bears almost no resemblance to the slick water high pressure horizontal hydraulic fracturing being practiced in today’s gas fields.

    The differences are significant and dangerous. Rather than H2O, today’s fracking uses a mix of chemicals, the precise nature of which is almost always kept secret, but which is known to include diesel fuel, carcinogens, and highly reactive salts. The pressures and quantities of fluids have been increased by orders of magnitude.

    The back flow out of the well is contaminated with cancer causing radioactive elements such as radon which was previously safely trapped underground. Other contaminants brought to the surface include benzene and toulene.

    There are many more differences, and the industry is well aware of them. It specifically instructs its landmen not to discuss the difference between hydraulic fracturing and slick-water hydraulic fracturing.
    http://www.archive.org/details/TalkingPointsForSellingOilAndGasLeaseRights

    What you can be sure of, is if here is one lie they are telling you, there are many more you are unaware of. I wouldn’t believe a thing in this article.

  6. george lazar says:

    Sorry Exxon Mobile but I have to go with Mr. Hubbell on this one. I can believe what he says more easily than I can believe you.
    First of all , you are in a very big hurry to get this fracking thing started and there must be a reason why you have started this advertising campaign now. Someone decided that it will be financially beneficial for you to do this now…high fuel prices maybe?
    I’m afraid that I do not believe you when you say that everything is going to be alright. You may be able to sell the Big Lie to America but not to me.
    I suggest that you prove that Oil fracking is safe by starting out very slowly with a few well chosen(not necessarily by you)test sites and see how it goes. I think that an unbiased body of scientists could evaluate this new industry in say five to ten years to see just what ,if any, problems might arise.
    You don’t have to be in such a big hurry….you HAVE heard the expression “Better safe than sorry”?

    • george lazar says:

      Silly me! Now that I have looked further into this matter…
      The studies are available already and I found them on a site called “Source Watch”… Interesting information that includes an exciting video showing tap water on fire!
      Find out about The Halliburton Clause which allows the Oil industry to bypass EPA rules and standards by not having to disclose the chemicals that are used in the fracking process.
      The plot thickens!