Calling Erin Brokovich

Monday, November 17, 2008 Leave a Comment

Today's Denver Post had a front-page article that caused both rejoicing and alarm.

Rejoicing because this is the kind of article that will save our newspapers. It's relevant to our region, it's information that we just don't get anywhere else, it clues us in to issues we should be very concerned about (the state of our water supply), and it clues us in to the backroom negotiations that get the oil industry exempted from responsibility for what they're doing to our water.

That last part is what caused the alarm.

In short, the article, "Drilling process causes water supply alarm," says this: Oil companies drill for natural gas using a method called hydraulic fracturing, "a process pioneered by Halliburton... which shoots vast amounts of water, sand and chemicals several miles underground to break apart rock and release the gas...Congress even exempted hydraulic fracturing from the [2005] Safe Drinking Water Act. Today, fracturing is used in nine of every 10 natural-gas wells in the United States."

Fine. But up in Wyoming, the drinking water is becoming contaminated with nasty, harmful, cancer-causing chemicals. Homes have blown up when the gases leaked into their water supplies, and one woman just received a multi-million dollar settlement after her well blew up and she had adrenal tumors.

Halliburton claims that the chemical cocktail is a trade secret, so they won't list the ingredients. Since they're exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA can't test for them.

So. What's Colorado doing about this? "In September, U.S. Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Congressman John Salazar, from Colorado, and Congressman Maurice Hinchey, from New York, introduced a bill that would undo the exemptions in the 2005 Energy Policy Act."

Yeah. If you're at all inclined to write to your representatives -- and Diana DeGette is our Stapleton representative, this is a good one to enquire into.


  • Penny said:  

    Actually, I work with WY oil and gas quite a bit and know they are required to meet clean drinking water standards for groundwater - unless the groundwater is unpotable in the first place, which is often the case in the aquifers that they extract natural gas.

    Before you buy into the hype, research both sides.