Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Marcellus hydrofracking critics appeal to the EPA

Environmental groups, concerned by potential ground and surface water pollution risks posed by a controversial drilling method used to extract natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and New York, have turned to the EPA for help.

Reuters reports that 63 groups, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice, have asked the federal government agency to expand a current probe of coal-bed methane extraction to include other forms of oil and gas exploration including hydraulic fracturing.

Some residents who live near gas rigs in U.S. states from Pennsylvania to Wyoming say their water has become undrinkable since drilling companies fractured the wells, and they complain of sickness and skin rashes after using the water.

Energy companies say the process is safe and that there has never been a proven link between fracturing and water contamination.

Jeff Eshelman, a spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said he had not seen the proposal but argued there is no need for another study. The EPA did a study in 2004 and concluded hydraulic fracturing was safe, he said.

"If another study is done, we are certainly not worried about it," he said.
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