AC Alert for December 12, 2011 EPA Fracking Report--the Final Word? Not Likely!

Dec 13, 2011 10:30 AM ET AC Alert for December 12, 2011 EPA Fracking Report -…


For those following the oft-times emotional debate in a growing number of states and communities in the US over the wisdom of using the hydraulic fracking process to get at domestic oil and natural gas resources, an announcement last week from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was big news.

In the announcement, US EPA stated that the agency may have found evidence in Wyoming indicating that the fracking process had resulted in polluted water.  Opponents of the fracking process immediately hailed the announcement as a major breakthrough in the regulatory process, but as the dust settled later in the week, it didn't seem likely that it will halt the ongoing debate.

The Associated Press distributed these news & views to hundreds of print, electronic and digital media:

“Environmentalists have been sounding the alarm about fracking in Pennsylvania, New York State and other places with new gas drilling. They lauded Thursday's announcement concerning pollution in Pavillion, a central Wyoming community, as a long time coming. The EPA emphasized that its announcement that it had found chemicals likely associated with gas production practices, including fracking, was just the first step in a review of its science. The draft report opens up a 45-day public comment period and a 30-day peer review process by independent scientists.

“Even so, the oil and gas industry and its allies blasted the announcement as premature.
'The EPA's announcement is irresponsible and leads us to call into question its motives,' said Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.

“The practice called hydraulic fracturing is aimed at improving the productivity of oil and gas wells. It involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and improve the flow of oil or gas to the surface. Residents of Pavillion long have said their drinking water stinks of chemicals and is giving them health problems. The draft EPA report and the upcoming critiques of it come as states and the federal government continue to ponder whether and how to regulate fracking. Last year, Wyoming became one of the first states to require oil and gas companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in fracking. Colorado regulators are considering doing the same.” (Source: Associated Press)

The full report is accessible below.

Your AC editors have been carefully monitoring the public debate over fracking, posting news and commentary on a daily basis in both a special Hot Topics section -- The Truth About Fracking -- as well as our ESG* content sections on Environmental and Energy Issues. (*ESG – the environmental management, social issue and corporate governance factors of interest to investors and corporate managements.)

As recent articles indicated, the regulatory framework that industry or the public would like to see for fracking is not yet at all clear. The varying views have led to a wide range of comments and opinions held by proponents and opponents of fracking. Here are some recent examples of the current public dialogue:

EPA Report on WY Water Doesn't End Fracking Debate
(Source: ABC News) A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency draft finding that it may have detected groundwater pollution resulting from fracking in Wyoming is not likely to halt the debate about the process.

Both sides find fault in Colorado fracking rule
(Source: Denver Post) Colorado's proposed rule requiring drillers to disclose the ingredients in their fracking fluids drew fire from both environmentalists and industry representatives at a recent hearing. While both sides supported the basics in the proposal from the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, each also sought changes to the rule.

Energy Report: Trillions of Dollars in Recoverable Energy Reserves Locked Under Regulations
(Source: CNBC) A new study by the Institute for Energy Research states that America is not only exporting a record amount of gasoline, but the country is also brimming with what's being called, "vast quantities" of natural resources.

Shale-Gas Drilling to Add 870,000 U.S. Jobs by 2015, Report Says
(Source: Business Week) Producing natural gas from shale will support 870,000 U.S. jobs and add $118 billion to economic growth in the next four years, according to a report from IHS Global Insight. Gas from shale, which accounts for 34 percent of U.S. output, also will contribute $57 billion in federal, state and local taxes by 2035.

China to Embrace Fracking In an Effort to Ramp up Energy Production
(Source: FX Beijing authorities are embracing fracking as a means to meet an ambitious annual natural gas production target of 80 billion cubic meters by 2020.

New York Fracking Rules Won’t Protect City Water, Foes Say
(Source: Bloomberg) The drinking-water supply for 9 million people in New York City won’t be protected by New York State’s proposed rules on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, residents and politicians said. The state has banned high-volume fracking while the Department of Environmental Conservation weighs rules that would let companies extract gas from shale with the technique. The agency has said it plans to bar the technology within 4,000 feet of unfiltered watersheds that provide drinking water for New York City and Syracuse. Final rules may be issued next year.


Voices from the Shale - 6,000 Attend DEC Public Hearings on Hydraulic Fracturing in New York; Public Comment Period Extended 4 Weeks; The Citizens’ Challenge: Trust an “Untrustworthy Industry?”

(Source: Mike Benard) AC featured commentator Mike Benard outlines the intense public interest in New York State concerning proposed fracking regulations.

Fracking recipe must add transparency
(Source: The Coloradoan) The editorial board of the Coloradoan believes that a proposal intended to make the fracking process in Colorado more transparent fails to go far enough.


As you can see, the public dialogue on fracking has been expanding from just a few states and is now moving toward a national dialogue.  All wrapped up in the dialogue are concerns about domestic vs. imported gas and oil, protection of water resources, impacts on communities, creation of new jobs, activist calls for greater transparency on the part of industry and government, and the nature of the fracking process itself.

AC editors are collecting comments on Fracking from a wide range of sources in a best attempt to help our readers access as many views as possible -- see perspectives on fracking.  We  welcome commentary on fracking, especially from local civic leadership, and from industry managers.  Send your comments for consideration to:

This is just a sampling of the information in our Alert. Go here for the full text of this alert, and more information on Sustainability, and other Accountability related topics.