By Jack Rafuse – 11/25/13 – The Hill
States are taking the initiative to regulate hydraulic fracturing operations to produce oil and natural gas — and environmentalists, as well as industry, support them.
Colorado just unveiled new rules to limit methane emissions from fracking by using improved well-sealing techniques and technologies, such as infrared cameras. This approach meets the objectives of state officials who understand and regulate industry operations, and it helps attain the goals of responsible environmentalists, though not the pipe dreamers who want the immediate end of all fossil fuel use. Those people persist in obstruction, no matter what the truth.
On this issue, a clear consensus is forming: State governments should have authority over drilling, including fracking operations. The Environmental Protection Agency has already supported this regulatory shift in states like Wyoming and Pennsylvania.
Yet, certain environmental groups are spreading disinformation to oppose hydraulic fracturing and to derail legislation, such as H.R. 2728, which would give states regulatory authority over fracking. This bill is not about whether fracking is good or bad — which the obstructionists view as a settled question; rather, it is about who should have jurisdiction over the fracking — the state or federal government.
One myth perpetuated by activists is that fracking emits unsafe levels of methane. But this is an outdated and inaccurate claim. The University of Texas and the Environmental Defense Fund recently released a joint study on methane emission from fracking wells, finding that about 99 percent of methane was captured by a new process called completion. This is significantly lower than the findings of previous studies, and it confirms that engineering and scientific advances in the fracking process have led to drastic improvements in industry’s ability to keep emission levels far, far below levels of concern.