Today the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board – formed at the request of President Obama – issued its final draft report. The report focuses on the implementation of the many positive recommendations made by the subcommittee in its previous report that came out in August.
When the initial report was released, I had hoped that it would be a wake up call to the Obama administration, moving them on a path towards more responsible oversight of gas drilling. While some positive steps have been taken to protect our air, land and water from the impacts of drilling, it’s clear from this new report that we still have a long way to go.
Recently, I attended a hearing of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources committee on the issue of fracking.The Department of Energy's scientific advisory board wanted to share with the senators their impressions from their initial report describing the need for more regulation of the industry. The distinguished panel of witnesses ultimately concluded that much more measurement is needed to assess what we need to know about how fracking affects drinking water quality.
Frankly, it s better than we expected. Given the lack of community representation amongst the panel, we were concerned that the panel would ignore the obvious negative impacts of natural gas in favor of industry rhetoric.
Instead, the panel recognized the serious impacts that shale gas production has on water, air and public health.
We hope that this report is a wake up call to the Obama administration, and that they begin to pay attention to both the panel recommendations and the recent history of inadequate state attempts to regulate natural gas production. This report should serve as a blueprint for responsible oversight of shale gas drilling.
Three of the most important recommendations of the interim report:
WASHINGTON, PA, June 13 -- Tonight a federal task force on hydraulic fracturing holds a hearing in Pennsylvania's gas patch, and citizens will testify to water contamination, air pollution, and other health and community hazards of industrial gas development. But the panel will also hear from fracking supporters -- some of them drawn to the event by the natural gas industry's offers of airfare, hotel rooms, and meals.
This week, President Obama laid out a plan for decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.
Unfortunately, part of that plan is an increased use of natural gas.
While President Obama did emphasize the need to make sure that natural gas is produced safely , he tasked Energy Secretary Chu with the job.
While the Department of Energy has many roles, regulating the extraction of natural gas in order to protect water and public health isn t one of them.
Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, is the figure that President Obama should have tasked with leading the effort to ensure the safety of the natural gas production process. The very mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. The Energy Department s is not.
And, the EPA is already studying the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.