FRAC CHECK: Denver Post Columnist Doesn’t Allow Facts Get in the Way of Attack Piece Targeting Hydraulic Fracturing

Earlier today, as Colorado Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis (but not Rep. John Salazar, who co-sponsored the bill last year but decided not to this year) prepared to introduce the anti-Frac Act of 2009, Denver Post columnist Susan Greene made sure to coordinate that effort with a broadside of her own. To wit: “Oil and water don’t mix, so lose loophole.” A quick separation of fact and fiction is laid out below.

CLAIM: “Dick Cheney’s infamous 2005 Energy Policy Act exempted so-called “fracking juices” from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the law protecting water supplies.”

FACT: The bipartisan 2005 energy bill, a bill supported by then Sen. Barack Obama, clarified that Congress never intended hydraulic fracturing to be regulated under Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Hydraulic fracturing has a 60-year record of strong local and state regulation and has never – repeat, never – resulted in a single instance of groundwater contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Presidents Clinton and Bush, the Groundwater Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission concluded that this practice is environmentally safe.

CLAIM: “Most wells in Colorado are blasted with fracking fluids, which are known to contain benzene and other carcinogens. Like the ozone hole, it’s an issue that can freak you out. Especially, say, if you drink water.”

FACT: The fluids used in the process, which itself takes place thousands of feet below the water table, are more than 99 percent water and sand. What’s more, extensive precautions are taken to case wells near the surface to prevent any leakage of fracturing fluid, oil or natural gas. And, in 2004, the EPA issued a landmark report examining the question of safety as it relates to hydraulic fracturing, finding “the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids” poses “minimal threat to USDWs.” In arriving at that conclusion, EPA stated it had “reviewed more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, other research, and public comments.”

CLAIM: “The industry also is attacking claims that fracking is a risk to water quality. Just in time for federal hearings, a front group called, ironically, the Groundwater Protection Council, published a report claiming the fluids cause no harm.”

FACT: President Obama’s top environment advisor, Carol Browner, wrote this as EPA administrator under President Clinton: “There is no evidence that the hydraulic fracturing…has resulted in any contamination or endangerment of underground sources of drinking water.” Also important to note, the Ground Water Protection Council conducts a great deal of its research through funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the EPA. Click HERE to view the Ground Water Protection Council’s most recent report, as well as a host of others, that found that the hydraulic fracturing is safe and does not harm drinking water.

CLAIM: “Because fracking has gone virtually unregulated, “nobody has looked for the right things, and nobody has documented them,” says Amy Mall of the Natural Resources Defense Council.”

FACT: Hydraulic fracturing has been effectively regulated by state oil and gas agencies since the 1950s. Each oil and gas producing state employs highly educated and qualified officials, managers and inspectors in their oil and gas regulatory agencies. These regulators have been protecting our nation’s drinking water for over 60 years, and in some instances over 80 years, and have been overwhelmingly effective as there have been no confirmed cases of contamination associated with hydraulic fracturing. This regulatory oversight is truly phenomenal due to the fact that approximately 1 million wells have utilized the process to enhance oil and gas production and conserve our nation’s resources. Click HERE to read more about the long history of hydraulic fracturing regulation.

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