Industry, BLM far apart on frack rule cost

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Following on the heels of Sunday’s timely editorial – “New data aids industry in latest fracking fight” – two articles in Monday’s Sentinel afford added insight into the renewed “debate” over hydraulic fracturing.

Dennis Webb’s article—“Industry, BLM far apart on frack rule cost”—suggests that the oil and gas industry is grossly exaggerating (by 1000+%) the costs of complying with revised rules proposed by the BLM to govern fracking operations on public lands.

In light of BP’s disastrous Deep Water Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico – apparently caused by a botched cement job – the BLM would require enhanced concrete casings for fracking wells drilled near potentially “usable ground water”. 

Moreover, the BLM’s new rules would “require public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking on public and tribal lands, hold fracking wells to certain construction standards, and govern the handling of fluids coming back up a well after fracking”.

Thus, without directly repealing the “Halliburton Exceptions” to the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts, the BLM would fill the regulatory vacuum left by those dubious exceptions with common sense rules—including disclosure requirements akin to those already enacted in Colorado – which will in turn permit more effective regulation of both “underground injection wells” and “produced water” evaporation ponds.

Meanwhile, the AP’s companion article—“Some say industry arrogance fueled anger about fracking”—offers good reason to remain skeptical about the industry’s strenuous objections to the BLM’s proposed rules.

As former Shell Oil Co. president John Hofmeister opined, “some industry leaders have suggested that the fracking boom has never caused water pollution”, but—while “the vast majority of wells don’t cause problems”—“everybody knows that some wells go bad”.

As usual, the industry continues to obfuscate that fact – to avoid assuming the costs of prevention.

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