DOE Panel Calls for Action to Address Natural Gas Drilling Impacts

Panel Wants More Transparency and Environmental Protection, But Fails to Recommend Closure of Legal Loopholes for Polluters

08-11-2011 // Mekell Mikell, Ph.D.

The Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Natural Gas Subcommittee recently called for better enforcement, oversight and transparency for the natural gas industry, including full disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking.’

“The chemicals used to extract natural gas through fracking are often a mystery for local communities and state and federal regulators, so we applaud the panel for recommending the public disclosure of fracking chemicals,” said Kate Zimmerman, senior policy advisor on public lands for the National Wildlife Federation. “But this recommendation is just a tiny first step. Congress, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency also need to move forward to close the gaping loopholes in our environmental laws the natural gas industry continues to exploit. Energy companies and government watchdogs need to balance economics and jobs with protecting wildlife, clean water, clean air and human health.

The Natural Gas Subcommittee also supports standards for air pollutants as a result of shale gas development and proposes increased data collection on the impacts of drilling, especially for the ‘greenhouse gas footprint for cradle-to-grave use of natural gas.' 

"We will be looking to the oil and gas industry to implement improvements laid out by the DOE panel and for our federal agencies to hold the industry accountable through enforcement," said Zimmerman.  "Effective regulation is more important than ever as natural gas development continues to expand.”

The National Wildlife Federation is not opposed to the development of natural gas. However, any energy development must be done in an environmentally sound manner the does not place wildlife and people at risk.

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