PSATS Week in Review

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is pushing for Federal oversight in regulating a key aspect of natural gas drilling activity.  Casey’s “FRAC Act” would put hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” under the auspices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and remove a 2005 congressional exemption that prevents the agency from regulating it.  The bill would also force drillers to reveal publicly all chemicals used in fracking, except for proprietary formulas. 

Depending on one’s perspective, allowing the EPA to regulate the controversial technique would either disrupt the natural gas industry and erect a new regulatory hurdle or provide baseline standards and reassure people who fear that the process can ruin underground supplies of drinking water. 

“The bill is designed to make sure that we don’t have problems.  I think it’s a very important precaution,” Casey said during a recent interview. 

Drilling advocates maintain that fracking is safe and has not been conclusively linked to groundwater contamination, which is what Sen. Casey wants the EPA to prevent.  Drillers note that Marcellus Shale wells are more than a mile below the surface, far from any aquifers.  Whether fracking and water contamination are linked is the subject of a study by the EPA following a widely criticized 2004 agency report that determined “little or no threat” in the process.


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