EPA Investigates Fracking in Las Animas County

Will Cameron
The Paw Print

As our great county continues it’s quest to satisfy the insatiable thirst for crude oil and natural gas that has plagued us since the invention of the combustion engine, it’s high time to question the techniques used to acquire these valuable commodities.
Since it has long been accepted that we will go to war for this “black gold” it should come as no surprise that many are perfectly willing to ruin our own backyards in search of the energy to drive this fantastic display of overindulgence that we call our own.
“Fracking,” short for hydraulic fracturing, is a term used to describe a process that has been employed in the United States drilling industry for over 60 years.  Pressurized water mixed with chemicals is forced down the well, fracturing the bedrock and allowing for easier extraction of fossil fuels.
This issue has received considerable publicity lately, in part because of a recent Congressional study that found during hydraulic fracturing “oil and gas companies injected hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals into wells in more than 13 states from 2005 to 2009.”
The negative impacts of this are two-fold.  In a world that is already short on clean drinking water, major concerns have arisen that these chemicals are getting into wells and water systems used by people.
In Pennsylvania, where fracking was common until recently, methane levels in some private wells were 64 times higher than the norm.  One of the authors of the resulting study stated, “That sort of concentration is up at a level where people worry about an explosion hazard.”
In fact, one water well did explode, and the state investigation found that Cabot Oil and Gas Company “had allowed combustible gas to escape into the region’s groundwater supplies.”
Another problem presented by fracking is the environmental implications of contaminated water sources.  The organization Riverkeeper has reported over 100 cases of contamination in U.S. streams and rivers, allegedly due to fracking.
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting a study of five locations and the impacts of hydraulic fracturing in those areas.  One of the sites is in Las Animas County, near Trinidad, CO.  The research should be completed this year, although the complete study may not be released until 2014.
A columnist in Colorado recently suggested that the EPA should not be allowed to regulate fracking, arguing that additional regulation puts the burden of proof on the accused, and stating “It’s no wonder states and industry feel the system is rigged against them.”
The EPA is a government organization set up to “protect human health and the environment.”  Fracking seems like just the kind of activity that the EPA should investigate and regulate as needed, and I look forward to seeing their findings, industry be damned.

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