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'Sound Science' Should Halt Misguided Delaware Basin Fracking Ban

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 23, 2018

As the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) considers its proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing in the four-state watershed it oversees, the commission should base its final decision on “sound science.”

Those aren’t the natural gas and oil industry’s words; they’re the commission’s – found in its own Vision Statement.

If it goes by the science, the commission would withdraw the proposal that would bar within its jurisdiction a critically important part of safe and responsible energy development. Hydraulic fracturing has been examined by at least seven government agencies and a number of academic institutions – including EPA’s own six-year, $30 million study – which support the conclusion that fracking isn’t a major threat to drinking water.

More facts: Proven engineering technologies, industry standards and risk management practices and federal and state regulations ensure the protection of groundwater. Stephanie Meadows, API upstream group manager, in prepared remarks for DRBC’s public hearing in Waymart, Pa.:

“Our top priority is to provide energy in a safe, technologically sound way with the least possible impact on the environment. Our members take their responsibility to the surrounding communities seriously and we work with federal and state agencies to develop design standards, recommended practices, and guidance that will improve operational integrity and regulatory processes across the board.”

The commitment Meadows describes has been reflected in what the science shows – that hydraulic fracturing is safe and doesn’t risk groundwater. Meadows:

“While both the commission and critics continue to contend that the stimulation process can pollute and will pollute water resources, that accusation is simply not grounded in the science – or to be more clear – that is not what the sound science shows.”

Safe hydraulic fracturing is critically important to domestic energy production and America’s overall energy security. Natural gas produced with hydraulic fracturing has benefited consumers, fueled resurgence in the country’s manufacturing sector and helped the U.S. lead the world in reducing carbon emissions. In addition, DRBC’s proposed ban could have significant negative economic impacts. API Upstream and Industry Operations Group Director Erik Milito:

“The DRBC’s misguided proposal directly impacts residents in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania, meaning lost income, lost jobs, and lost state revenue – while ignoring the existing state regulatory system, robust industry best practices, and comprehensive programs overseen by the Department of Environmental Protection that benefit Pennsylvanians and individuals throughout the region – supporting jobs and boosting economies at all levels.”

Again, the commission should follow its Vision Statement, base its decision on sound science and dispense with this bad proposal. Meadows:

“The commission should recognize the existing studies, federal and state regulations, industry best practices, significant technology and engineering advancements in hydraulic fracturing that allow for safe and responsible energy development with a smaller environmental footprint and necessary protections for communities. It has worked for the nation and it can work for the Delaware River Basin.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.