In a recent article of Scientific American, their are growing concerns over the safety of natural gas drilling and its effects on the drinking water of the areas in which the drilling is taking place. While natural gas has become a huge resource in our country, the side-effects on other natural products, such as drinking water, is raising concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the article, “Sublette County is the home of one of the nation’s largest natural gas fields, and many of its 6,000 wells have undergone a process pioneered by Halliburton called hydraulic fracturing, which shoots vast amounts of water, sand and chemicals several miles underground to break apart rock and release the gas. The process has been considered safe since a 2004 study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that it posed no risk to drinking water. After that study, Congress even exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Today fracturing is used in 9 out of 10 natural gas wells in the United States.”
A closer look and examination of the water in the Sublette County area has revealed serious concerns over the safety of the drinking water and the legitimacy and accuracy of the 2004 report by the EPA. What is frustrating about this situation is that there are not safeguards in place to properly understand what is going on in the drilling process that may or may not cause contamination in harm to our ever precious water supply. This type of ‘hydraulic fracturing’ is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and, “because the precise nature and concentrations of the chemicals used by industry are considered trade secrets. Not even the EPA knows exactly what’s in the drilling fluids. And that, EPA scientists say, makes it impossible to vouch for the safety of the drilling process or precisely track its effects.”
Isn’t our drinking water valued enough to have safety measures in place to be able to appropriately examine and understand the drilling process and its effects? Perhaps the EPA needs to re-examine their 2004 report and further investigate the issues that seem to be arising in different areas in relationship to drinking water and natural gas drilling. It would be a shame to continue to drill and harm our drinking water and underground water supply because the EPA or someone else was keeping the ‘trade secrets’ of a natural gas company under wraps.
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