Marita Noon

The riots, rage, and ruin that have spread throughout the Middle East over the past few days emphasize the urgency of opening up and bringing online America’s vast resources—yet, as Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) states: “The EPA is the biggest obstacle to energy independence.”

Olson’s comment specifically addressed the Hydraulic Fracturing Study requested by Congress as a part of the FY 2010 appropriations bill, which states:

“The conferees urge the Agency to carry out a study on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water, using a credible approach that relies on the best available science, as well as independent sources of information. The conferees expect the study to be conducted through a transparent, peer-reviewed process that will ensure the validity and accuracy of the data. The Agency shall consult with other Federal agencies as well as appropriate State and interstate regulatory agencies in carrying out the study, which should be prepared in accordance with the Agency's quality assurance principles.”

A study “on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water” sounds like a great idea. No one wants their drinking water filled with toxic elements, and, if the EPA followed the mandate, a work of global importance could result. American private enterprise and initiative has lead the world in developing and implementing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques that are safe and are uniquely responsible for totally transforming the energy landscape—making previously unrecoverable resources, recoverable. Therefore, the final study from the EPA has worldwide implications for oil and natural gas supplies. It must be done right.

Instead of moving forward with a “Hydraulic Fracturing Study” as requested by Congress, the EPA has done what is characteristic of this administration; they’ve blown it out of proportion—making it something bigger, requiring additional personnel, and creating more management, at greater expense. Final results are not due until 2014—four years after Congress requested a simple study. Lisa Jackson’s EPA has expanded the study’s scope to encompass numerous peripheral elements related to oil and gas exploration and production activities; a full lifecycle analysis of everything remotely associated with unconventional recovery.

Congress requested a report based on “best available science,” not opinion, yet the EPA has included items such as “environmental justice”—which has nothing to do with science, and “discharges to publicly owned water treatment plants”—which are no longer a part of the hydraulic fracturing process.

The additional elements exponentially exacerbate the study’s potential complications.


Marita Noon

Marita Noon is Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great.
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