As Gov. Corbett’s Administration takes office, anti-drilling activist have sought to make a natural gas severance tax their legislative priority. Unfortunately, their distrust of the gas industry largely stems from the misinformation continually printed in the media. Here’s my response to one such article that the Philadelphia Daily News published yesterday.
Speculation and fearmongering has no place in public safety or credible journalism, but it unfortunately found one in Associated Press writer David Caruso’s recent article on hydraulic fracturing that ran in the Daily News.
Pennsylvania has implemented some of the strictest regulations on hydraulic fracturing in the nation, ensuring wastewater is treated properly before entering its waterways.
Caruso implies the “so salty” wastewater is carelessly released into waterways, but nothing could be further from the truth. The drilling industry previously adhered to the same water-quality standards as other industries in the state, but now removes 300 percent more dissolved salts, minerals and metals in the water—the same standard required for drinking water.
While Caruso claims “researchers are still trying to figure out” whether treated wastewater from fracking is “dangerous to humans or wildlife,” the evidence is quite strong that it isn’t. The state Department of Environment Protection, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy’s office of fossil energy, just to name a few, all found it safe.
Wastewater generated by drilling isn’t a new concern to state officials. Since the 1980s, nearly all wells drilled in Pennsylvania have been fractured, or “fracked.” While the methods of monitoring continue to improve, the state was never caught “flat-footed,” as Caruso suggested.
The “weakness” in Pennsylvania’s reporting system is already being addressed by new regulations expected to be in place by next month, thus updating and expanding reporting requirements for drillers. Because gas companies are looking to stay in Pennsylvania for years to come, no one has a greater incentive to keep waterways clean than they do.
Despite Caruso’s attempt to malign what has been determined to be a safe practice, Pennsylvania waterways are not endangered by drilling.
What is in danger by this misinformation is the economic boom for Pennsylvanians safely harvesting our natural resources.