TribLIVE

| Business


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

GAO concludes risks from drilling unknown; regulators say fracking isn't an issue

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

By The Associated Press
Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 6:29 p.m.
 

PITTSBURGH — Shale gas and oil drilling pose environmental and public health risks, but the extent of those risks is unknown, the Congressional Government Accountability Office says in a new study.

The GAO, an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, reviewed existing scientific reports on shale drilling, and spoke to state regulators, industry experts and environmental groups.

Regulators from Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas said state investigations found that the part of the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has not been identified as a cause of groundwater contamination, the report notes.

Travis Windle, a spokesman for the industry group the Marcellus Shale Coalition, suggested that the GAO report, “like so many other independent reports, determines that hydraulic fracturing is safe and that this critical, tightly-regulated technology has never impacted groundwater.”

But the GAO also noted that, according to studies and publications, “underground migration of gases and chemicals poses a risk of contamination to water quality.”

George Jugovic, president of the Pennsylvania environmental group PennFuture, said he doesn't think the public cares which specific part of the drilling process poses a threat to health or the environment.

“I don't think it serves the industry well to shy away from what is a legitimate public concern,” Jugovic said.

Hydraulic fracturing has made it possible to tap into deep reserves of oil and gas but has also raised concerns about pollution.

In a separate report, the GAO said both federal and state agencies face challenges in regulating shale oil and gas wells, such as a lack of data and limited legal authority. But they also found that some states — such as Ohio and Pennsylvania — have strengthened regulations in recent years, based on recommendations from independent reviews.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Amusement parks fight off home entertainment threat
  2. S&P 500 logs 47th record high close for year
  3. Merry marijuana: Holiday shoppers urged to think pot
  4. Caution creeps into economic picture as consumer, business spending taper
  5. State officials prompt UPMC, Highmark to go to mediation to resolve Medicare dispute
  6. Retailers that won’t open on Thanksgiving hope move pays off
  7. BNY Mellon trader fired in conduct probe
  8. Lower gasoline prices fail to spur consumer spending
  9. Westinghouse to construct colossal nuke plant in Turkey
  10. Federal agency checking whether Highmark has enough doctors in Medicare plan
  11. Iron ore price decline hurts U.S. Steel’s cost advantage over rivals
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.