Wednesday, March 25, 2009


ur doin it wrong.

4/2 note - the original thing I'd linked to was gone but I found it elsewhere & fixed the link - that now shows what it was supposed to, not something about the fashion sense of the women connected to the G-20 summit!

Seriously, though - buried somewhere in my sorting-things-out-on-natural-gas were some points about something that I was surprised wasn't more the focus of the evening's efforts. This video might be a good illustration of the sort of drilling-related problem that look to be very real, very nasty, already happening & maybe more worthy of environmentalists' efforts than this fight against "planned" drilling in the NYC Watershed (which seems to be "planned" in about the same way I had "planned" to go paddling with Marco and René in Venice this year - I was looking into it, I sure would've liked to, but it just isn't going to happen, not this year anyways, nor next, big sigh).

Here's a quick set of excerpts of the stuff that got buried:

I didn't come away with the idea that the Paterson bill from last summer suddenly legalized anything that was illegal before. Actually it sounds like what really opened things up to some possibly questionable drilling practices was the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which made it easier to use public land to energy production and included a loophole a mile wide for hydraulic fracture drilling - that's a fact, here's wording from the act's official summary:
"Provisions are also included to increase access to federal lands by energy projects — such as drilling activities, electric transmission lines, and gas pipelines. In addition, the law prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating hydraulic fracturing to protect drinking water sources...
Hydraulic fracturing, or "hydrofracking", seems to be the specific bad guy here - other forms of drilling were mentioned, and most of the people in the room want a complete ban on drilling in the watershed - but hydraulic fracturing sounds like it's the one that would really threaten the water supply if it were used in the NY watershed.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office has put together a report on the subject. That includes some 20 summaries of articles about cases where things had gone horribly wrong with drinking water in areas where hydrofracking was being done. I suspect that having your toilet erupt isn't nearly as funny as it sounds.
H.R. 7231 is likely to resurface in Congress this year. That's a bill to put hydraulic fracture drilling back under EPA regulation.

If you're worried about this stuff, the absolute best thing to do right now might just be to write to your representative asking them to support H.R. 7231.

I don't have time to go into a lot more depth right now (I wish I did) but although the video I linked to doesn't specifically link that one Colorado household's tapwater trouble to hydraulic fracture drilling, a similar "firewater" effect is one of the sorts of unpleasant problems that came up again and again in Scott Stringer's report. Many of those reports are from Colorado, and it's actually a Colorado congresswoman who sponsored it in the 110th congress. I can't find ANY info on the bill beyond it being referred to a subcommittee during the 110th congress.

I don't quite get why pushing to get HR 7231 passed wasn't the main focus of the folks who were in that room last week. Somebody actually DID ask, during the post-panel Q&A, why the focus was so NYC-centric, when it sure seems like there are people all over the country who are directly affected by the same issues. Seems like focusing efforts on HR 7231 would do a lot more good for a lot more people.

As it was, the bill was just sort of mentioned in passing, sort of in an "oh, yeah, our new administration is taking care of that, nothing to worry about there" way.

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