In an episode of trickle-down politics, President Obama’s relentless antagonism to American domestic energy production has begun to contaminate the states. Recent efforts at the state level to stop hydraulic fracturing shows that state capitals are now following Obama’s permit-squashing, moratorium-imposing, regulatory nightmare.
Already this month, Maryland and New York have made moves to limit the practice known as “fracking,” which rapidly expedites oil and natural gas extraction. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has instituted a three year moratorium by executive order, and New York’s State Assembly has passed a bill that would extend their ban the practice if approved by the state Senate.
Fracking works by firing a fluid (mostly water and sand) through rock shale to allow gas to flow. As reported by John Roberts, “Hydraulic fracturing has led to a new energy boom in America… Ten years ago, it looked like the U.S. was running out of natural gas and would have to increase imports. Now there is so much of it that terminals built to accept gas from overseas are being converted to export it.”
Today, however, this natural gas revolution may become the latest victim of alarmist environmental groups who believe that fracking has damaged water supplies in a few locations. All this despite the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already extensively studied the subject and concluded that fracking “poses little or no threat to underground sources of drinking water (USDW) and does not justify additional study at this time…. Although thousands of wells are fractured annually, EPA did not find confirmed evidence that drinking water wells have been contaminated.”
Environmentalists point to three cases out of the more than half a million wells in the U.S. where natural gas has leaked from poorly built casings near the surface and gotten into local surface water. Although this is a problem, the escaped gas isn’t poisonous and it’s a potential problem for all drilling not just drills that involve fracking. Furthermore, these events are always exaggerated by the media, and even the New York Times last month was forced to admit that they “misstated the prevalence of cases… There are few documented cases, not numerous ones.”
Environmentalist groups want to confuse these rare instances of local water leakages with utility scale underground water supply contamination—cause for mass panic—but there is simply no evidence to support their claims. While the EPA is revisiting the issue with a long-term study due in 2014, just last month EPA administrator Lisa Jackson reiterated the point to Congress, saying that she was “not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water, although there are investigations ongoing.” The media needs to stop reporting endlessly about the “controversy,” “concern,” and “fear” over hydraulic fracturing and start reporting the facts.