According to the Gazette’s Reporter’s Notebook, Delegate Shane Robinson and Environment Maryland (the folks who bring you higher energy bills) are calling for an outright ban on fracking in Maryland.
A study released Thursday by the Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center highlights the cost of water contamination as the fracking mixture comes in contact with drinking water sources. The report cites examples of health issues in Dimock, Pa., where companies have spent $300,000 providing clean drinking water and cleaning up methane that seeped into the supply of 14 households. Also cited in the report are millions of dollars in health risks due to air pollution near drill sites, and millions in public infrastructure costs to move all that natural gas — now at record low prices — to market.
Environment Maryland’s “study,” published earlier this week, mentioned Dimock several times. However, back in July the EPA announced that based on their water sampling in Dimock, the “EPA has determined that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require additional action by the Agency.”
But that isn’t the only salient fact left out of Environment Maryland’s report either. From Ronald Bailey at Reason:
A 2008 report by the Groundwater Protection Council, a nonprofit organization whose members consist of state groundwater regulatory agencies, found that the layers of impermeable rock over top of the Marcellus Shale act as a barrier so that the water and chemicals used in fracking could not migrate upward into groundwater aquifers. In addition, a September 2010 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reviewed its complaint database and concluded “that no groundwater pollution [PDF] or disruption of underground sources of drinking water have been attributed to hydraulic fracturing of deep gas formations….”
Since 2006, Cabot Oil and Gas has drilled nearly 60 wells in a nine square mile area around Dimock, using the fracking technique. In January 2009, several homeowners noticed that water from their wells was now bubbling. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection investigated and concluded that natural gas was in fact migrating from several Cabot gas wells into local groundwater and into homeowners’ wells. But poor well construction was to blame. A properly cased well prevents drilling fluids, fracking fluids, or natural gas from seeping into an aquifer and contaminating groundwater. The casing also prevents groundwater from leaking into the well where it could interfere with the gas production process.
In Dimock, gas was escaping through defective casings and cement that lined some of Cabot’s gas wells. To make matters worse, in September 2010, Cabot spilled 8,000 gallons of stored fracking fluids, which drained into nearby Stevens Creek. Earlier this month, Cabot agreed to pay affected homeowners more than $4 million which amounts to twice the value of their houses. Cabot’s blunders illustrate an important point: Fracking, that is, the actual act of fracturing the shale below Dimock, did not directly pollute ground and surface waters. [emphasis mine].
Important to note here as well is that Environment Maryland is working with and funded in part by the same radical environmental interest foundation that funded lobbying efforts to pass Governor O’Malley’s offshore wind farm boondoggle.
Natural gas is eating wind energy’s lunch on price. Electricity generated from wind (without the government subsidies the industry claims it needs to survive) costs four times more than natural gas.
So is it any wonder the same environmental special interests are pushing for a government ban on fracking, while simultaneously lobbying for ratepayers to foot the bill for their favored—and more costly—form of energy.