Roundabout Theatre: NY Rep. Wants D.C. to Tell Commission in N.J. to Shut Down Marcellus Work in Pa.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Democrat from Hurley, N.Y., may not have a particularly firm grasp on the history of hydraulic fracturing – continuing to tell anyone who will listen (wrongly) that HF was previously regulated by EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act, but now is not.

But anyone who thinks he doesn’t have a sophisticated understanding of how to use all levels of government to get things done (or, in this case, stop things from happening) – think again.

Mr. Hinchey, an original co-sponsor of the job-killing FRAC Act – which aims to strip individual energy-producing states of their ability to tightly and able regulate hydraulic fracturing – has elevated (or at least tried) his attack on responsible domestic shale gas development.

Under the headline “Obama admin rejects timeout for Marcellus drilling,” Greenwire’s Mike Soraghan reports this:

Brig. Gen. Peter “Duke” DeLuca, commander of the North Atlantic Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, last week declined a request from Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) to use the federal government’s vote on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to seek a temporary ban on gas production in the Delaware watershed.

The Obama administration has decided against pressing for a temporary halt to Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania and New York, a key federal official said.

Hinchey wants drilling there to wait until the commission completes a “cumulative impact statement,” but DeLuca said that could delay drilling for years.

“Just to be clear here, Hinchey was trying to use a federal agency to direct the actions of a regional water board for the purposes of preventing the development of natural gas in a state where he doesn’t even live,” said Chris Tucker, spokesman for Energy in Depth, a group of independent drillers. “Next thing you know, he’ll be ordering the Army Corps to build levees around our well sites in Wyoming.”

Here’s what others – who have actual energy backgrounds and expertise – are saying about hydraulic fracturing’s long and clear record of environmental safety and effectiveness.

  • IPAA’s Barry Russell: “Special Interests’ Misguided Policies”: “While some opponents of responsible American energy production contend that Washington ought to step in and brush aside the authority and expertise of the states in this area, the industry continues to provide the facts, history and data needed to better understand and appreciate the record of achievement to which state officials continue to lay claim after 60 years of successful oversight. This has become such an important policy issue, that the industry has created a coalition – small and large companies, consumers, landowners – to address the very questions asked today by National Journal. You can visit the Energy in Depth coalition’s website at (National Journal, 9/20/10)
  • Pa. Petroleum Geologist: “In praise of shale gas”: “The risk of polluting underground aquifers is vanishingly small. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection tightly regulates the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the technique that’s made it possible in recent years to reach large deposits of shale gas, and hydraulic fracturing is done at a considerable distance from any underground water resources. Safeguards also are in place to protect water systems from discharging drilling wastes. (Post-Gazette, 9/22/10)
  • Ph.D. in Geophysics with a focus in Petroleum Seismology: “Pa. doesn’t need federal agency’s help regulating shale gas development”: “Pennsylvania has returned to the national energy stage. The Marcellus Shale is filled with natural gas but only allows it to flow along cracks in the rock known as “fractures.” Hydraulic fracturing – sometimes called “fracking” – involves injecting fluid into these tight formations at very high pressures to create man-made fractures. Without directional drilling and fracking, the gas boom in Pennsylvania might never have started. The type of fluid used for fracking varies, but it is usually over 99 percent water and solids with the remainder being additives that promote flow of the fracking fluid through the rock. (Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, 9/19/10)
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