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Darrell Delamaide

Darrell Delamaide

Darrell Delamaide is a writer, editor and journalist with more than 30 years' experience. He is the author of three books and has written for…

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Growing Environmental Concerns on U.S. Shale Oil and Gas Projects

Texas became the latest state to launch an environmental watchdog for energy development as a nonprofit group set its sights on the Barnett Shale drilling in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Texas campaign of the Oil and Gas Accountability Project, after similar campaigns in New Mexico and Colorado, is part of a growing concern about the environmental impact of techniques like hydraulic fracturing that are creating an energy boom as the U.S. exploits vast deposits of shale oil and gas.

The Wall Street Journal on Friday profiled the Bakken Shale development in North Dakota, which has catapulted that state into fourth place among oil producers, after Texas, Alaska and California – ahead of traditional leaders like Oklahoma and Louisiana.

But environmental concerns about shale development were the focus of a congressional querie earlier this month as Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent letters to several companies conducting hydraulic fracturing, which pumps liquid under high pressure to crack shale formations and free natural gas deposits.

“As we use this technology in more parts of the country on a much larger scale, we must ensure that we are not creating new environmental and public health problems,” said Waxman, who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Waxman and Markey said an Environmental Protection Agency report had found a “possible link” between hydraulic fracturing and contamination of drinking water.

More than 1,000 wells have been drilled in and around Forth Worth to produce gas from the Barnett Shale, which lies underneath the city and underneath the Dallas-Forth Worth airport. Another 14,000 have been drilled in the surrounding area.

The OGAP campaign is not anti-drilling, organizers said, but seeks to ensure that the activities respect the rights of the residents and environment in the area. Adherents claim that the environmental impact of extracting shale gas can mean that natural gas is not always the “clean energy” billed by the industry.

Their proposals include things like greater setbacks between drill sites and homes, closed-loop drilling systems to eliminate open waste pits, and more monitoring for air and water pollution.

The group acknowledged that their experience in other states indicated it could take some time to get measures passed, with the process lasting from a short time frame to years.

By. Darrell Delamaide


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  • Anonymous on February 27 2010 said:
    30 years ago, immediately after the publication of my oil book, I attended a conference in Vienna at which I gave one of my 'killer talks', in which - among other things - I claimed that shale oil would change the future oil supply prospects for those of us on the buy side of the market. Later the same day a gentleman informed me that I didn't know what I was talking about, because I apparently didn't understand the water/environmental problems associated with obtaining shale oil. That gentleman was correct and I was wrong. Things might be different with shale gas, at least I hope that they are, because we need that gas in order to buy the time that will be necessary to install the optimal future energy structure.
  • Anonymous on February 27 2010 said:
    Oh yes, Henry Waxman is a real scholar. he has extensive geological knowledge. Oh, wait -no he doesn't. Everything in life has a risk. The risk of not getting at our own oil is that we will suffer as a nation and will contributed to pulling down the world economy. Now that climate change is a proven fraud Democrats need to continue to wage war against industry, opportunity and the private sector. this is just in keeping with the obstruction to anything that could possibly help Americans lead better lives.
  • Anonymous on February 28 2010 said:
    We that are concerned are not concerned for no good reason. The results of Industry controlled search for shale gas exploration has already reaked havoc on whole communities rural and urban. The People are told to sacrifice their investment in property value for a few monthly royalty dollars. Most in the urban environment this means less than $50.00 per month. Can't even off set your gas charge back bill with that. The drinking water in spite of anything the Industry declalars to the contrary has been contaminated and NY has good cause for concern as do all communities that are not being vigilant on this because our USA has absolved the Industry from compliance with basis federal protection. How fool hardy. The fact is the BIG O & G Industry leaders need to and can operate IF they where true Americans in an environmentally protective manner wqith current technology but would rather lobby for limited protection to protect their own profit. Capitalists Yes Americans working for America's ENergy Independenc not so much.

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