Frack the Halls
The shale gas boom rolled through Congress last week. At a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing, chairman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) said states are doing a good job regulating gas drilling and that states would lose the economic benefits if “needlessly restrictive” federal regulations for wastewater were put in place.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing in East Charleston, W.Va. to discuss gas production in the state’s portion of the Marcellus Shale. Donald Garvin of the West Virginia Environmental Council said that though drilling has brought a lot of money to the state, it is also contributing to the “industrialization of rural West Virginia”—turning byways into highways clogged with a near-continuous stream of drilling rigs, chemicals shipments and water tankers. State legislator Tim Manchin, a Democrat, summarized the state’s attempt to write regulations for shale gas drilling, saying that using regulations developed for traditional drilling methods are not sufficient to protect communities, the environment and infrastructure.
The House Energy and Commerce committee hosted a forum on natural gas.
And the Congressional Research Service, Congress’s think tank, released a report on natural gas exports from the U.S. Six companies have applied for federal permits to liquefy and export domestically produced natural gas.
Outside of Congress, the Delaware River Basin Commission, a federally-authorized water management agency, postponed a vote to open the basin to the “fracking” method of natural gas drilling, Reuters reports.
Water, Climate, Security
In a new report, the Department of Defense (DOD) argues that water security should be a core focus for the department, especially in Africa. The report argues that a single funding source should be set up for environmental and water security projects so that the DOD can collaborate better with the State Department.
A Matter of Value
What is water worth? The Environmental Protection Agency wants to know the value of water to the U.S. economy. The Science Advisory Board, which advises the agency, is looking for scientific or technical information it should consider. Any pertinent comments should be emailed to email@example.com by November 30.
Congressional representatives from the Pacific Northwest have introduced a bill that would authorize $536 million in new federal spending to kickstart a dam removal project in the Klamath River Basin, which covers parts of California and Oregon, the Associated Press reports. The Department of Interior will ultimately decide whether to remove the four dams, which would not come down until 2020.
Dry, with More Dry
The drought across the southern tier of the U.S. is likely to continue through the end of February, according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.
The International Joint Commission, which manages waters shared by the U.S. and Canada, is taking public comments on its Great Lakes water quality report. The deadline is November 30, and comments can be emailed to Commission@washington.ijc.org
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton