Today's reports of spills from natural gas operations

Today was quite a day. Reports of three different spills from natural gas production operations crossed my desk. Unfortunately, I expect these reports to only increase as natural gas drilling expands dramatically in many states, regulations are not updated to reflect current operations, and state agencies don't beef up enforcement and, more importantly, penalties. Here's the news:

Flower Mound, TX: 3,000 gallons of used hydraulic fracturing fluid was spilled.

Waterville, PA:  substances used in drilling were seen flowing into a creek.

Bee Branch, AR: dumping of suspected fracturing fluid from a tanker in the middle of a residential neighborhood, pooling in the street. Company employees stated the substance in the tanker was "tree sap."

These are just a few examples, but I was sad to hear of them all. They emphasize the need to close the loophole in our federal hazardous waste law that allows any toxic oil and gas waste to escape waste management standards with which other industries must comply.

In related news, the Sullivan County, New York Legislature unanimously voted to ban natural gas drilling on county-owned property until its impact on the environment, safety and public roads and bridges is identified and addressed.

The Onondaga County, New York Legislature voted to prohibit hydraulic fracturing on county property until better information is available about potential effects on health and the environment.