President Obama’s has pledged to make companies using hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas disclose a list of chemicals used in their operations, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar just announced today that those wells will also be subject to inspection after the fracking process. Salazar hinted that new fracking rules will be delivered in the coming weeks that are meant to ensure safety during fracking operations and protect drinking water. The pro-fracking community seems to think that such “common sense” safety measures are going to kill the natural gas industry. Considering its impact on the environment, we’re not so sure that would be a bad thing.
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Offshore oil rigs, onshore oil wells, and coal mines are already inspected on a regular basis by government officials, so it makes sense to lump natural gas companies into that pile. The gas industry seems to be steaming partially because Salazar has hinted that much of the financial burden of testing the fracking wells will fall on the gas companies themselves. If you ask us, that makes more sense than the government paying for their risky, destructive behavior.
“To me, those rules are common sense,” Salazar said. “You have some people say that this will kill the natural gas industry — that’s very far from the truth.” Though these regulations won’t put an end to the process of fracking — during which companies shoot a mix of sand, toxic chemicals, and water deep into shale rock below the Earth’s surface to release reserves of natural gas — it is a step toward ensuring that our ground water remains drinkable. The new regulations, which will be revealed soon, will help to ensure that fracking wells aren’t leaking toxic chemicals into underground aquifers used for drinking water.