Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Anti-Drilling Organization Reviews Regulation of Fracking

If an anti-drilling organization like Earthworks decides to publish a review - funded by the anti-drilling philanthropy The Heinz Endowments - of how well states have regulated fracking, the conclusions of the study are entirely predictable.  In fact, many would probably guess that the conclusions were written before the study began, and that they worked backwards from there.

Anyhow, Earthworks recently conducted just such a review.  And, of course, they concluded that state regulation of fracking is a failure.

And then Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, a reporter whom the Denton Record-Chronicle in Texas allows to continue covering the oil and gas industry despite the fact that she is suing them, wrote an article drawing attention to the study.

From The Denton Record-Chronicle:
States with the heaviest oil and gas development in the shale drilling boom are doing a poor job enforcing rules meant to protect public health and safety, according to a new analysis by Earthworks.
The 124-page analysis — “Breaking all the rules: the crises in oil and gas regulatory enforcement” — was partially paid for with a $25,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments. The foundation has given grants to a number of projects related to the shale boom recently, said Jennifer Krill, executive director of Earthworks.
In preparing the report, Earthworks interviewed enforcement experts and analyzed a year’s worth of data from agencies in Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. The organization also created state-specific reports for some of them, including Texas.
About 350,000 active oil and gas wells go uninspected each year in those states, according to Bruce Baizel, attorney for Earthworks.
The Texas Railroad Commission enforces most of the environmental rules for the oil and gas industry in Texas. The railroad commission is charged with making the most of the state’s oil and gas resources and, at the same time, with protecting public safety and the environment. Compared to other states, Texas inspectors recorded more violations per inspection. Texas inspectors documented between 70,000 and 90,000 violations per year between 2006 and 2010, or about 0.6 violations per inspection, Earthworks found. The group also found that Texas’ enforcement process doesn’t deter repeat violators and may be to blame for the large number of violations.
Read the rest of the article here.

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