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Fracturing Has Been Used Safely

Lee Fuller
September 9, 2010
The Bismark Tribune

In an Aug. 30 letter, Roberta Nelson perpetuates a host of unfounded claims related to the use of hydraulic fracturing, a technology that’s played a key role in helping North Dakota leverage the opportunity of the Bakken into jobs and opportunity for everyone in the state.

Unfortunately, to hear Nelson tell the story, hydraulic fracturing is “exempt” from a whole host of federal laws, which she then turns around and blames on the former vice president.

Civics 101 aside, here are the actual facts: Fracturing has been used safely in the United States for more than 60 years, and has never in that time been directly regulated by the EPA. For decades, that responsibility has remained with states, which continue to compile a remarkable record of oversight and enforcement.
How good? In 60 years, not a single case of groundwater contamination has been credibly tied to hydraulic fracturing. Don’t believe us? Just ask the EPA — it confirmed as much to the U.S. Senate earlier this year.

Fortunately, support for the Bakken and the critical energy technologies that make its development possible is something you’ll find from parties in North Dakota.
Rep. Earl Pomeroy said recently that the “regulation of hydraulic fracturing is best left to the states,” and that new efforts to turn that authority over to the federal government “will do nothing to protect drinking water and will only serve to slow down development resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs and more imported oil.”
Sen. Byron Dorgan confirms that “hydraulic fracturing is not a problem,” noting there have been “many studies” that “show that it does not contaminate groundwater,” including one by the EPA in 2004.

Thanks to the Bakken shale, North Dakota’s unemployment rate is currently at 3.6 percent. Compare that to the national rate of
9.5 percent.

And what about the North Dakota budget? Thanks to the Bakken, it currently enjoys a surplus of $500 million.