The environmental police have struck again. This time, they are hindering efforts to produce domestic oil and causing regulation headaches for those just doing their jobs. Agencies partaking in a natural gas drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” are facing a lawsuit alleging that they’ve failed to give proper environmental review to regulations related to the technique.
Critics fear that without proper regulatory oversight, the process will lead to water contamination. But these fears are unfounded. Fracking is nothing new and those behind the lawsuit are ignoring the fact that the process has been around for decades without any environmental disaster.
According to the Institute for Energy Research (IER), the process was first used in 1947 and “has been employed in more than a million wells to extract more than 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion feet of natural gas from deep underground shale formations.”
Nevertheless, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened the lawsuit Tuesday, against the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Interior Department and two of its sub-agencies, alleging that these federal agencies have violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Schneiderman’s office claims that “Unless studied and subject to strict controls, fracking poses risks to the environment, health, and communities…”
But “fracking has been studied with strict controls from both federal and state regulators. Not only that, it is done in an environmentally safe manner.
Heritage Energy Policy Analyst Nick Loris said, “These companies have every incentive not to contaminate drinking water – which is extremely hard to do, by the way, because the water table and fracking occur on far different levels.”
The natural gas industry has called the charges against fracking overblown and some in that community will be participating today in a two-day advisory panel hosted by the Energy Department to discuss the controversy.
“Congress should focus on a pro-energy policy that opens access to America’s resources and creates a predictable, efficient regulatory framework for all energy sources,” Loris writes.
According to the National Petroleum Council, 60% to 80% of all wells drilled in the United States in the next decade will require fracking to remain viable. Saving the fracking process from environment regulators will be critical in America’s effort to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
Recent attempts to portray hydraulic fracturing as a dangerous, unregulated practice are misleading at best. When done within the set parameters of the numerous state and federal regulations that govern safe drilling practices, hydraulic fracturing has the potential to provide the United States with an abundant supply of clean-burning natural gas for years to come.