Industry: Hydraulic fracturing doesn't pollute ground water

March 09, 2011

In his column ("Hydraulic fracturing: a tale of corporate power and citizen powerlessness," March 8), a University of Maryland Baltimore County political science teacher restates a host of baseless and debunked claims from the anti-natural gas film "Gasland." Thomas Schaller — who's professional expertise is electoral politics, not petroleum engineering — should be aware that over the past 60 years, hydraulic fracturing has never impacted groundwater. Independent environmental regulators, top EPA officials, Environmental Defense Fund advisors, the Ground Water Protection Council and others have all confirmed this fact.

The UMBC teacher goes on to claim that the oil and natural gas industry "rewrote" the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, earning an exemption. The truth is that fracturing has never been regulated under the act — individual energy-producing states have always ably and aggressively regulated this critical technology. About that "major assist from then-Vice President Dick Cheney" in passing the bipartisan 2005 energy bill: As a student of American politics, Mr. Schaller and your readers should know that nearly three-quarters of the U.S. Senate — including then-Senator Barack Obama — as well as 275 members of the U.S. House supported that legislation.

In the column, the writer quotes U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes: "If hydrofracking is as promising and profitable as the industry claims, the industry should be ready to do it right." Doing it right — protecting the environment and groundwater, strengthening America's energy security, creating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs — are the industry's top commitments. That, too, Mr. Schaller, is a fact.

Lee Fuller, Washington

The writer is executive director of the Energy in Depth Coalition, which represents natural gas and oil producers.

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