Washington, DC - The environmental and health impacts of gas development have been connected for the first time with a lack of state oversight on a site-by-site basis in a new report released by Earthworks. A year in the making, Blackout in the Gas Patch: How Pennsylvania Residents are Left in the Dark on Health and Enforcement documents and analyzes the permitting, oversight, and operational record of 135 wells and facilities in seven counties--and identifies the associated threats to water and air that are harming the health of nearby residents.
Last week the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their critique of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation of oil and gas waste injection wells. The GAO found that EPA does not perform sufficient oversight and they inconsistently evaluate how states regulate this activity. Even when EPA wants to conduct oversight, GAO noted that EPA sometimes couldn’t because they never incorporated many state rules in to their federal regulations.
“Can’t anybody here play this game?” baseball manager Casey Stengel said about his 1962 New York Mets, renowned as the worst team of all time.
Stengel’s famous line comes to mind with the recent publication of a report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, showing that the federal Bureau of Land Management, the leading regulator of oil and gas drilling on federal land, wasn’t even inspecting more than 2,100 of 3,702 wells drilled between fiscal years 2009 and 2012 that the bureau, itself, had designated as high risks for water pollution or other environmental harm.
Energy in Depth responded to our report on TCEQ's regulatory malfeasance: Reckless Endangerment while fracking the Eagle Ford - Government fails, public health suffers and industry profits from the shale oil boom.
Rather than respond on the substance, EID chose to attack Earthworks.
To paraphrase Isaac Asimov, ad hominem attacks are the last refuge of those without a leg to stand on.
The central revelations of the report are not in dispute:
Washington, DC – A new report released today, September 19th, provides an important window into a disturbing national pattern regarding the oversight of fracking-enabled oil and gas development: regulators, charged with protecting the public, are actively avoiding evidence that fracking is harming the public. The report focuses on Karnes County, TX in an attempt to illuminate a growing national pattern of absentee regulators.
Because of such divergent opinions on issues like gas development, it can be useful to remember the saying “numbers don’t lie.” But there’s also the follow on, “but liars use numbers.” For now, I’ll give the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) the benefit of the doubt that they’re trying to catch up to the truth.
In a recent meeting with Earthworks and several partner organizations, agency representatives confirmed that gas development has caused many cases of water contamination. They seem to be going with the number 161, which an impressive investigation by the Scranton Times Tribune revealed in May.