Is Natural Gas Browning Our Water?

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.

What do you think? Post a comment below.

One thought on “Is Natural Gas Browning Our Water?”

  1. the article mentions in the first page that it is difficult to pinoint the cause or spread of contamination because the chimicals are unknown, yet it asserts that natural gas well drilling is the answer? I’m not saying pumping heavy doses chemicals into the water table wont have an effect on drinking water, but it sounds to me like the debate is one that needs to be had, but not in this way. Almost every company that uses a process to make or retrieve products enjoys a protection of proprietary secrets since their specific mixture is what allows them to preform the service at the price they charge. I don’t think all propritary secrets should be given up automaticly. Another thing the article doesnt state is that they can get a court order for the proprietary mixes as long as there is reasonable suspicion that the company is causing ground water polution in a way or amount that is illeagal. Granted if you dont know what your looking for it can be hard to determine what your looking for. That being said it wouldnt be to hard to check though and use logic. We do need protections, but this article didnt really stick out as a good starting point for them. Also a quick search of the author showed that all of his articles are ones against natural gas drilling, so even if he is right in the articles it makes me wonder if he has a bias.

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