Frac’ing should be regulated
With natural gas drilling and production booming in Garfield County, there is growing concern about its impacts – on the land as well as on humans.Recently, the U.S. Senate considered a bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing fluids under the Safe Water Drinking Act. The bill is a response to a grassroots movement of environmental groups, such as the Oil and Gas Accountability Project, that contend that fracturing fluids, notably petroleum products such as diesel, have contaminated water wells in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Alabama.”Frac’ing,” as it is commonly called, is part of the oil and gas production process. Fluids and other components are injected into a well bore under high pressure to force the release of oil or gas from rock formations.Laura Amos, of Silt, testified before the Senate during a hearing on the bill earlier this month. She told her story of frac’ing operations at a well on neighboring property that she believes caused her well to explode like a geyser in Yellowstone. She also believes a particular frac’ing fluid, 2-BE, leaked into her well and caused her to develop a rare cancerous tumor on her adrenal gland.OGAP has taken issue with a 2004 EPA report that said frac’ing does not need federal regulation because it poses no threat to drinking water safety.As the pace of natural gas production in Garfield County increases, it becomes even more important to ensure state and federal environmental and health regulations are met. While we don’t advocate over-regulation of the industry, in this case, another check and balance for water safety is warranted.Gas drilling is already taking place in people’s back yards and is likely to take place within the city limits of Silt and Rifle within the next few years. Although gas companies take precautions and abide by state and federal regulations for the most part, accidents do happen. Last year, drilling operations on an EnCana well south of Silt intercepted a geologic fault that brought gas up to the surface and into West Divide Creek. Although no domestic water wells were conclusively contaminated by so called “production” gas, there is the possibility, and certainly the perception, that it could occur, especially as gas production continues to increase geometrically in the county every year.We therefore support the bill that would appoint the EPA as the federal regulator of hydraulic fracturing. We should do everything we can to protect one of our most precious resources – water.
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