Well, I have now officially commented on the fracking debate. A few days ago, Richard Poeton, a retired environmental scientist for the EPA, wrote a letter to the New York Times, basically stating that “(our) gas resource is too important to ignore” but that more stringent regulations on air and water than currently in force by federal law should be implemented by the States. I decided to comment on this letter, directing readers’ attention to the recent formation of a Center for Sustainable Shale Development by a group of interested parties, including energy firms, environmental funds and councils and philanthropic organizations. My letter, with some deletions, was published in today’s Sunday Times’ section Week in Review, as well as on the Times’ website nytimes.com/opinion, which contained additional letter comments.
The Joseph Priestley Society, which sponsors speakers and symposia at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, where I have been an active member for many years, plans to present a panel on fracking this coming October, with speakers on the technology, the environmental hazards and on regulations and enforcement. I will provide more details when this is finalized.
Given the fact that several hundred thousand wells using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have already been drilled and that most states with shale deposits have allowed fracking to continue, it is impossible to believe that opponents of this technology will succeed in shutting down the practice. I predict that even New York will eventually allow hydraulic fracturing to resume (current moratorium in place) under very strict state-wide regulations. Nevertheless, the increasingly strident voices of many environmentalists and other opponents will, no doubt, have an impact on state- and federal regulations and enforcement, which can only be considered a good thing.