Press Release: Waxman Memorandum Elicits Detailed Response from Natural Gas Caucus

EID: Boren/Murphy letter fills “factual and historical holes that were unfortunately left agape subsequent to the release of the Waxman memorandum.”

WASHINGTON – Less than a month after Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) sent letters to nine separate service companies seeking additional information on the processes and technologies involved in producing America’s enormous reserves of clean-burning shale gas, U.S. Reps. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) submitted a letter of their own this past week, reminding the chairman that shale gas is a “proven and powerful engine of economic growth – and one this Congress idles at the peril of those it represents.”

After reviewing the letter, Lee Fuller, executive director of Energy In Depth, released the following statement:

“With more attention being paid on Capitol Hill to the critical role that shale gas can play in securing our nation’s economic and environmental future, it’s natural that additional questions will be raised, and additional information will need to be provided so that lawmakers have access to all the facts, and a full appreciation of the context within which they reside. This letter from Congressmen Boren and Murphy addresses both of those needs, all while filling-in several factual and historical holes that were unfortunately left agape subsequent to the release of the Waxman memorandum.”

The following excerpts were taken directly from the Boren/Murphy letter, which can be downloaded in full here:

On Jobs:

“Consider that in just the past few years, more than 100,000 high-wage jobs have been created in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania alone, all of them tied to the responsible development of American natural gas, and every bit of that made possible thanks to the safe and steady deployment of fracturing technology.”

“At a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty, and in a year in which four million Americans lost their jobs, shale gas exploration represents a proven and powerful engine of economic growth – and one this Congress idles at the peril of those it represents.”

On Shortcomings of the Waxman Memo:

“While a number of the elements contained in your memorandum appear to be sufficiently-researched and adequately sourced, we were nonetheless disappointed to find in the eleven-page document only a single reference to the landmark 2004 study on hydraulic fracturing done by EPA, a reference that does not even acknowledge the core findings and conclusions of the actual report.”

On Relationship between Committee Investigation and EPA’s Pending Study:

“While the agency has yet to formally release details indicating the scope and methodology of that research, it seems likely that much of the information you intend to gather pursuant to your investigation will also be sought, compiled and analyzed by EPA. It’s our hope that you work does not in any way interfere with that process, and our expectation that your course of study meets the same rigorous standards of science, evaluation and peer-review as historically observed by the agency.”

On Waxman Assertion that Fracturing Solutions are Unknown:

“[C]ertainly you must know that federal law mandates that Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) be kept on-hand at every wellsite in America when chemicals are present, and further, that those sheets include an accounting of the identities of those chemicals with identified risks used in the fracturing process.  Indeed, the vast majority of these information sheets can be found readily and easily on the Internet. As you indicate, a number of states today post this information in full view of the public online.”

On the Critical Role that Well Integrity Plays in Safeguarding Drinking Water:

“Unfortunately, those who support the FRAC Act appear to believe the mere existence of small amounts of chemical additives in the fracturing solution represents a circumstance sufficient for public drinking water supplies to become contaminated.

“The reality, however, is that these materials are well known to those who regulate the process, and are managed in a way that eliminates virtually any risk of those components coming into contact with shallow reservoirs bearing potable water. Wells drilled today incorporate thousands of feet (and many layers) of steel casing, and thousands of pounds of cement – every bit of that installed using a time-tested engineering process and precise instrumentation to ensure what’s happening inside the wellbore remains in complete isolation from what naturally exists outside of it.”

Click here to view the letter online.


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