When a friend recently asked me how work was going, I told him about an investigative research project that Earthworks was finishing up. He responded with a quote by writer Kurt Vonnegut: “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do the maintenance.”
That about sums up the central conclusion of our new report, Blackout in the Gas Patch: How Pennsylvania Residents are Left in the Dark on Health and Enforcement—that as Pennsylvania’s government rushes to expand fracking, it is failing to protect air, water, and health. In other words, the state is more than willing to build the gas and oil industry, but is far less interested in making sure it functions well.
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.