Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The EPA's Fracking Scare
The shale gas boom has been a rare bright spot in the U.S. economy, so much of the country let out a shudder two weeks ago when the Environmental Protection Agency issued a "draft" report that the drilling process of hydraulic fracturing may have contaminated ground water in Pavillion, Wyoming. The good news is that the study is neither definitive nor applicable to the rest of the country. "When considered together with other lines of evidence, the data indicates likely impact to ground water that can be explained by hydraulic fracking," said the EPA report, referring to the drilling process that blasts water and chemicals into shale rock to release oil and natural gas. The news caused elation among environmentalists and many in the media who want to shut down fracking. More than one-third of all natural gas drilling now uses fracking, and that percentage is rising. If the EPA Wyoming study holds up under scrutiny, an industry that employs tens of thousands could be in peril. But does it stand up? This is the first major study to have detected linkage between fracking and ground-water pollution, and the EPA draft hasn't been peer reviewed by independent scientific analysts. Critics are already picking apart the study, which Wyoming Governor Matt Mead called "scientifically questionable." The EPA says it launched the study in response to complaints "regarding objectionable taste and odor problems in well water." What it doesn't say is that the U.S. Geological Survey has detected organic chemicals in the well water in Pavillion (population 175) for at least 50 years—long before fracking was employed. There are other problems with the study that either the EPA failed to disclose or the press has given little attention to...more