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Let States Handle Fracking

Lee Fuller
trib.com
November 1, 2010

In an Oct. 16 column ("Gas drilling has blighted my life by poisoning what I’ve work for”), activist Louis Meeks claims that he’s "watching everything we’ve worked for poisoned by the oil and gas industry." The culprit? Meeks suggests that hydraulic fracturing -- a common, tightly regulated technology used to enhance energy development -- is "at fault." While we certainly agree that "we need to protect the people and the water for future generations," your readers should know that fracturing has never in its 60 year history been credibly tied to the contamination of anyone’s drinking water.

But don’t just take our word for it. Tom Doll, supervisor of Wyoming’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, understands that hydraulic fracturing is an effective, environmentally sound and critical energy production technology. "The Commission has regulated hydraulic fracturing since 1954," Mr. Doll, a petroleum engineer, has said. "Contrary to what has recently been in the press, the Commission has no documented cases of hydraulic fracturing negatively impacting ground water."

What does Mr. Doll think about a one-size-fits all Washington, D.C., takeover of hydraulic fracturing currently being pursued by some in Congress? "We feel that we should administer our rules and regulate [fracturing] and we don’t need the help of the federal government in this regard," Doll says, adding that states are "doing a good job."

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also understands that fracturing is a "safe and effective way to develop our domestic oil and gas reserves."

"There is a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework in place to ensure the safety of oil and gas operations, as well as to protect our nation’s drinking water," the senator’s spokesman notes.

Wyoming, and a host of other energy-producing states, are doing a good job of regulating fracturing. Fracturing has been used to stimulate oil and natural gas production in more than 1.1 million wells since it came into commercial use in 1949 and it has never impacted or contaminated groundwater. The EPA, top state environmental regulators and a host of independent academics and energy experts have also confirmed this fact.