Jim Beam over ice with a splash of H20 is my favorite cocktail, and since all three ingredients require water I am concerned when somebody comes along and threatens the earth’s supply.
Fort Worth Weekly was among the first news organizations to explore the largely unregulated use of water by gas drillers and to explore how laws are stacked in the industry’s favor (“Til Your Wells Run Dry,” June 29, 2005, and “Water…Water…Where?” Oct. 4, 2006).
This paper has published numerous stories about people’s water wells being contaminated or dried up after a gas well began drilling nearby. Every time, the energy companies denied responsibility and said there’s no proof, you go get your expert and we’ll get our 12 experts, you go get your lawyer and we’ll get our team of lawyers and we’ll all meet in court…for many, many years until you’re bled dry, sucker.
Tarrant County and the Barnett Shale aren’t unique. The same fight is being waged across the country, wherever drilling is occurring.
Here’s the latest report, a good one from Reuters about polluted water wells in Wyoming. The EPA, which is taking baby steps toward growing a set of balls these days, says water wells tested positive for 14 contaminants and that nearby gas drilling might possibly maybe kinda be at fault.
As usual, the gas industry says “prove it, pal.”
Randy Teeuwen, a spokesman for EnCana Corp., which operates 248 wells in that part of Wyoming, was quoted by Reuters as saying, “The industry contends drilling chemicals are heavily diluted and injected safely into gas reservoirs thousands of feet beneath aquifers, so they will never seep into drinking water supplies. There has never been a documented case of fracking that’s contaminated wells or groundwater. We know they don’t have the science to prove what they say.”
The Reuters article ends with this: “Critics say their kids have gotten sick, their animals have died, and their water has in some cases become flammable because methane escaped into aquifers from gas wells. But they have been unable to prove their case because drilling companies are not required to disclose exactly what chemicals they use, thanks to an exemption to a federal clean water law granted to the oil and gas industry in 2005.”
Back in 2005, the Weekly was just perking up to the potential for water problems. The industry, of course, was way ahead of the game, already getting exemptions passed in their favor. Lobbyists and their wheelbarrows filled with cash have a way of encouraging exemptions.
Congress, however, is currently considering the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, legislation that would repeal an exemption in the Safe Drinking Water Act for hydraulic fracturing. It would also require public disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids.