A positive and partial outcome of the high-profile debate on fracturing: our state agencies are starting to actively discuss the importance of containing oil and gas wastes in various aspects of the drilling and production process.
In late December the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission passed a new rule that requires the use of portable frack tanks in the Niobrara oil shale play, as well as other areas in the state where groundwater is less than sixty feet from the surface.
The WOGCC s move to contain frack waste is a smart one, albeit long over due and narrowly focuses on containing just one toxic component of the drilling and production process -- fracturing fluids.
Landowners across the West have been calling for containment and proper disposal of pit waste for years. The Endocrine Disruption Exchange points out in an analysis of New Mexico drilling pit waste that 57% of pit chemicals found were volatile -- with known health effects to the respiratory, skin and sensory, cardiovascular, developmental, reproductive, and endocrine systems.
Montanans deserve simply to know what chemicals the oil and gas industry are injecting underground and storing on the surface near our homes and water wells. That is why our Montana lawmakers should move forward to require the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluids.
Montana s Senate Bill 86 sponsored by Senator Bob Hawks does just that and will be heard by our Senate Natural Resources Committee on January 21st.
The oil and gas industry often relies on silly technicalities to claim that we have nothing to worry about in regards to fracturing and that toxic chemicals used in the process needn t be disclosed or tracked by the public.
To say that fracturing is not to blame for incidents of water contamination is to rely on distinctions that don t make a difference. Distinctions like: it wasn t the fracturing that poisoned a landowner s water well it was weak gas well casing. Montanans and anyone working on farms or ranches know that almost everything is interrelated and connected. The well casing in an oil or gas well must withstand drilling and high-pressured frack jobs in order to keep the toxics in the pipe. Fracturing fluids are important part of the overall picture when considering the fate of all the toxics used and disposed of during the life of an oil or gas well.
Photo: Rocky Mountain Front near Browning, MT
Credit: Gwen Lachelt/EARTHWORKS
We've worked with a number of county and municipal governments in a variety of states to enact or improve their oil and gas regulations.
While local governments are sometimes limited in what aspects of oil and gas development they can regulate, local regulations can significantly mitigate property, nuisance, public health and environmental impacts.
To provide guidance on what counties can and cannot regulate in Montana, we have prepared a model for county regulations in the state.
Please contact us with questions, ideas or consultation regarding local regulations in your areas.
Those of living in gas-patch communities, like in DISH, TX, have had the burden to show regulators that their water is contaminated -- that dirty gas development is making us sick from polluted water, air and soil.
With a new survey released today, the landowners, public interest groups and scientists involved in Pavillion, Wyoming, are doing just that and calling on our public health agencies to step up and put people s health before corporate profit.
Last week the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) passed several new oil and gas rules. These new rules are a badly needed step in the right direction and it's important that states move forward with updating their oil and gas regulations.
But, let's not get too carried away with Wyoming's good works. The cozy relationship between industry and Wyoming regulators is still very much alive and protected by a lack of adequate local, state and federal regulation that is consistently enforced.
Yesterday, the House Natural Resources Committee held the second of two hearings on Chairman Nick Rahall's bill H.R. 3534, the "Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources Act", which contains a number of modest reforms to the federal government's oil and gas programs.
The oil and gas industry, all too predictably, can be expected to fire back that any reform directed at their business is unnecessary, prohibitively costly to this multi-billion dollar industry, and could severely limit our nation's gas supplies.
Some Pavillion, Wyoming landowners have water that smells and tastes like gasoline. It s cloudy, and particles float in it. It didn t used to be this way.