Experts discuss New York State Attorney's fracking lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers
Hydrofracking is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock under the Earthâs surface. The New York State Attorney General is bringing charges against the Army Corps of Engineers to crack down on the lack of regulation of the process known as fracking. Two of the main players spoke about the lawsuit to students, faculty and members of the public at Stetson Law yesterday.
Mauricio Roma is a geologist who works on the case for the New York State Attorney General Office. He said studies have shown evidence of radioactive material left over from hydrofracking fluids.
âThe way it worksâ¦ we have this vertical well then it goes horizontal for 4000 feet, the pipe is very narrow, itâs about maybe 5 inches in diameter, not that much, and they have to inject through that pipe, 5 million gallons.â
Philip Bein is lead council for New Yorkâs lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers. Concerns have been raised nationwide about ground water contamination with fracking. But Bein said air pollution is also a major concern.
âWhat a lot of people donât realize is that the problems or risks to the environment posed by this new technology go beyond water. And air pollution is a significant issue. In Wyoming, which we think of as a pretty, pristine, clean stateâ¦ the air was good for ozone, until they started developing natural gas using this technology, and theyâre now in nonattainment.â
Bein said many states have a âdrill now, regulate laterâ policy. He said Pennsylvania has suffered because of this strategy.
âThat approach has led to significant pollution incidents of both surface and ground waters. The Monongahela River which provides drinking water to over 300,000 people, was contaminated by waste water affluent from natural gas drilling, that was sent to publicly owned treatment works, which essentially are unable to handle this waste stream.â
Bein said a major problem is the lack of EPA regulation of oil and gas companies which are not held to the same standards as other industries.
âAnd in 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, referred by some as the Haliburton Loophole, in a pejorative way, but what that did was to take hydrofracking out of the regulation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. And therefore that federal law intended to protect the purity and safety of our drinking waters, just doesnât apply.â
He hopes the current court case will close that loophole and wants to compel more inspection from federal government. Roy Gardner is Stetson Lawâs interim dean and said itâs important for lawyers to communicate with scientists.
âIf weâre really going to solve any of our environmental challenges, lawyers need to take an interdisciplinary approach to the problem.â
Monongahela River Among Americaâs Most Endangered Riversâ¢ 2010, AmericanRivers.orgcomments powered by Disqus