Friday, February 19, 2010

Congress launches investigation into gas drilling practices

Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (Mass.) asked eight oil-field service companies today to provide information about chemicals used in a controversial drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing.

The industry receives broad exemptions from many of the EPA Environmental Statutes. In addition to the exemptions, the companies do not have to disclose what chemicals are in the formula for hydraulic fracturing fluid. this is called the "halliburton loophole".

The fluids used in hydraulic fracturing are laced with chemicals -- some of which are known carcinogens. And because the process is exempt from most federal oversight, it is overseen by state agencies that are spread thin and have widely varying regulations.

Click here to read more info from a Propublica article.

In 2004, the EPA examined hydraulic fracturing and determined it to be safe. The study played a big part in 2005 when Congress passed the "halliburton loophole" and granted many of the exemptions to the industry. This study was later discredited by a former EPA scientist and whistle blower Weston Wilson as stated in a previous propublica article.

The EPA gave hydraulic fracturing its stamp of approval in a 2004 report [1], but that study has been widely criticized as politically-motivated and scientifically unsound. After the report was released, veteran EPA scientist Weston Wilson wrote a letter [2] to Colorado representatives saying that "based on available science and literature, EPA’s conclusions are unsupportable." He also wrote that five out seven members of a panel that reviewed the findings had conflicts of interest and "may benefit from EPA’s decision not to conduct further investigation or impose regulatory conditions."

Click here to read the memorandum to members of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee.
Click here to read the letter to Schlumberger.
Click here to read the letter to Halliburton.
Click here to read the letter to BJ Services.
Click here to read the letter to Universal Well Services.
Click here to read the letter to Calfrac Well Services.
Click here to read the letter to Sanjel Corp.
Click here to read the letter to Frac Tech Services.
Click here to read the letter to Superior Well Services.

No comments: