Stakeholders react to EPA fracking study, new agency chief
January 11, 2013 ·
WV stakeholders are intrigued by what’s going to happen with environmental policy moving forward. The EPA is conducting a hydraulic fracturing study, while at the same time the administrator has announced her resignation.
At the request of Congress, the EPA started its hydraulic fracturing study in 2010, and final results won’t be released until 2014.
In December, an update was released which described 18 research projects underway to study hydraulic fracturing’s impact on water resources.
The study is looking at several questions including how water withdrawals for drilling affect water, as well as the impact of fluid spills on water resources. But a few days after the update was released, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced she was resigning her post.
Chuck Wyrostok with the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club says he’s interested in seeing how a new EPA chief will affect the study, if at all.
"I don’t know who is going to be in there next, and how they are going to handle it. It could be good, it could be bad. Depending on who comes in and what their agenda is I guess," he said.
Wyrostok says he wants to see some more areas of research, on this issue, particularly into groundwater contamination problems.
He’s particularly concerned with how air quality is affected by fracking.
"We’ve seen health problems from drilling sites, even from the toxic emissions in the air. We know people have gotten sick from that. They are industrial sites; this isn’t your grandfather’s well anymore when it took up half an acre," said Wyrostok.
"These are five acres, six acres, seven acre sites that have compressors and diesel engines running 24 hours a day."
While environmentalists are paying close attention to the developments in environmental policy, other stakeholders are as well.
Corky DeMarco is the executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.
He says the agency has studied this all before and determined hydraulic fracturing wasn’t harmful to water resources.
"I’m confident that this study will find that there is no contamination with groundwater. Congress has been under the gun to have this study done; unfortunately it’s going to take until 2014 to get the results of it done," said DeMarco.
"By that time, the industry might be doing some things differently than what they are currently doing."
DeMarco says he’s also paying close attention to who replaces Lisa Jackson as EPA chief.
"We’re always concerned about who is going to the be the lead person in that agency, and how they feel about fossil fuels and how they feel about mineral extractions. Those are always concerns on our part," he said.
"What I think will happen is Congress will dictate the parameters of this study, I would hope since they asked the EPA to do the study, they will monitor the direction of the study so it doesn’t get off the original track. But then again who knows until the person gets in there."
The EPA did not approve a request for an interview for this report.