Today two news headlines caught my attention:
a) "Situation Normal All Fracked Up"
b) "US Republicans blast shale drilling rule expansion"
The first is from a hot-off-the-press story from The New York Times about one community in Pennsylvania that has seen both the costs and benefits of natural gas production in its midst. The article is a tragedy, reporting on very sick children, adults, pets and farm animals, poisoned water, toxic air, financial ruin and despair. Of course, this is not the first time we have heard stories like this from around the country. But this is an important article and I encourage people to read it. Among other things, it belies the premise of the claims in the second article.
The second headline is from a Reuters article about Republican Members of Congress criticizing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's plan to update the agency's rules for hydraulic fracturing. These rules are long overdue for updating and do not reflect the current technologies in oil and gas production. Secretary Salazar said he wants rules that ensure "well bore integrity up and down the entire well bore, including following the hydraulic fracking operations." Why is this important? The New York Times article referenced above reports that just this year in Pennsylvania alone, 65 wells were cited for faulty cement casings, which could result in blow-outs and groundwater contamination. While Congressmembers said that Secretary Salazar's initiative is based on "scare tactics," there is plenty of evidence that updated rules are needed to refect today's reality.