Ohio Environmental Council, September 1, 2011
We thank Senator Skindell for his leadership in proposing a moratorium (Ohio Senate Bill 213) on horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HHF or fracking) of oil and gas wells until the United States EPA completes its study of potential risks to drinking and ground water resources posed by HHF and the Ohio Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management issues a report analyzing how Ohio’s rules address issues raised in the USEPA report.
It is altogether reasonable, appropriate, and urgent to call a timeout on Ohio’s black gold rush.
Horizontal hydraulic fracturing involves the use of millions of gallons of water and hundreds of chemicals, including many toxic chemicals.
It produces a toxic hit parade of dangerous emissions and byproducts, including benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, xylene, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, radon, uranium, hydrogen sulfide, arsenic, lead, and mercury.
If not properly controlled, air emissions, alone, could turn the Ohio Valley into an ozone alley.
We are not alone in our concerns.
According to the United States Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Natural Gas Subcommittee interim report issued Aug. 11, 2011:
“Intensive shale gas development can potentially have serious impacts on public health, the environment and quality of life – even when individual operators conduct their activities in ways that meet and exceed regulatory requirements. The combination of impacts from multiple drilling and production operations, support infrastructure (pipelines, road networks, etc.) and related activities can overwhelm ecosystems and communities.”
Bottom line: Ohio needs the most protective safeguards in place to guide the safe, responsible development of Ohio’s deep shale gas resources.
This moratorium does not forever say no to shale gas development. This moratorium says, slow down, get the best available science, and adopt the most protective safeguards to protect Ohio’s priceless air, land and water resources.
The OEC acknowledges and thanks Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally for banning the disposal of brine or flow-back water at municipal wastewater sewage plants. This is a very good start. But the Ohio EPA and Ohio DNR need to do more.
The old saying, “Measure twice and cut once” couldn’t be more apt when it comes to horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
Now is time to get the technology, safeguards, and regulations in place, sooner rather than later and safer rather than sorry.
Consider the following:
At the request of Congress, the United States EPA is beginning a study of any potential impact of hydraulic fracturing/fracking on the environment and human health, particularly on water quality and drinking water. Initial study results are expected by the end of 2012.
Among other things, the study will consider:
In addition, according to the United States Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Natural Gas Subcommittee interim report issued on Aug. 11:
According to the 2010 STRONGER (State Review of Oil and Gas Environmental Regulations) review of Ohio’s oil and gas oversight program: