No more fracking rules, Meis tells panel

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS—Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis testifies Wednesday during a congressional hearing in Denver about proposed federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.



The federal government should not supplant the states in regulating hydraulic fracturing, Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis told a congressional field hearing Wednesday.

A “one-size-fits-all approach of the federal government is a recipe for epic failure,” Meis testified, according to his prepared comments to the energy subcommittee hearing in Denver.

States already are dealing effectively with hydraulic fracturing and can take into account the differing conditions of the basins in which oil and gas are found.

Hydraulic fracturing is the practice of injecting water, sand and other substances, some of them proprietary, into shales and tight sands to free the oil and natural gas trapped deep below the surface.

Critics have said they fear hydraulic fracturing poses a threat to groundwater.

Hydraulic fracturing is a 60-year-old technology most recently employed to free natural gas in populous states such as Pennsylvania and New York.

“We should have guessed that the hysteria would hit a new high-water mark” when hydraulic fracturing was employed near the population centers of those states, Meis said.

Colorado’s reaction after going through the “fracking hysteria” was to take on “the dubious honor of being the most regulated state in the U.S. when it comes to hydraulic fracturing,” Meis said.

Taking into account other state and local regulations, “We may very well be the most regulated state for the oil and gas industry,” Meis said.

Meis cited a 2004 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study that found little or no threat to groundwater from the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluid into coalbed methane wells.

“When a very technical industry like oil and gas is hiring more governmental affairs, public relations and environmental compliance staff than they are engineers and scientists,” Meis said, “we should probably be asking ourselves what are the real cost/benefits to the rules and regulations already on the books rather than figuring out new ways to create additional ones.”


COMMENTS

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So, Gary, were there any comments made at this hearing that didn’t simply deliver industry talking points? Was Meis the only person to testify? Where is the balance in your reporting?

The ‘good ol’ boys put together a sounding board to pander to their big donors?

Mies cited a 2004 study – one done under the Bush ‘drill, baby, drill’ mantra. Since then studies are showing leakage and delayed leakage. The companies did not go into the drilling technically competent, but have been developing by trial and error. Their own interests dictate they not share advances and that only comes with migration of skilled employees and improvement in their contract hirelings. Since they pool the costs of public relations and got themselves in environmental trouble (they anticipated this when they got exemption from Clean Water and Clean Air Acts) they end up spending more money to cover mistakes than improve techniques.

The States like to compete to draw companies to their gas patches and put very little into minimum enforcement (usually in the event of some catastrophic failure and damage) and can not be trusted by their citizens. It takes a uniform enforcement that is everywhere the same and has the funding to enforce the rules.

If someone doubts Meis dedication to his oath of ‘health, safety and well being’ of the citizenry, those doubts are affirmed when he stated, “WE should have guessed that the hysteria would hit a new high-water mark” when hydraulic fracturing was employed near the population centers of those states.”, like a true industry spokesman. He purposely neglects opposition will grow with the numbers of people that are affected and that industry needs to prove themselves in deeds not propaganda. Industry has not done this.

The frenzy of over-development has led to depressed product prices and as those prices go down, industry does not propose measured reasonable development based on national need; rather, they propose usage increases and building foreign markets. The same reason Americans continue to be gouged on gasoline that is now being exported as largest U.S. export.

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