Under a rule the Obama administration submitted for review on Friday, energy companies using hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and gas on public lands would be required to disclose the chemicals they use in the process, the New York Times reports. However, owing to industry lobbying, companies will be allowed to wait until drilling is completed to reveal what’s in their fracking fluid.
At a congressional field hearing in Denver, state officials from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming criticized the Obama administration’s proposal, saying that state regulators are doing a sufficient job, the Denver Post reports.
The Inside Game
The Environmental Protection Agency is studying the effects of fracking on groundwater in Wyoming. The Associated Press learned, through emails obtained by a records request, that the state’s governor persuaded the head of the EPA to delay publicly announcing a link between the gas drilling process and groundwater contamination so that the state could organize a campaign to question the findings.
The U.S. Geological Survey released a study of groundwater quality across the United States. The study compares changes in chloride, total dissolved solids and nitrate from the decade ending in 2010 to levels measured in the preceding decade. Some 56 well networks were tested, and two-thirds saw a statistically significant increase in at least one pollutant metric. The changes are displayed on this interactive map.
The EPA continued its work on rules regulating runoff from logging roads by sending a draft to the Office of Management and Budget for evaluation, Greenwire reports.
Climate Change and National Security
At a reception hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke about how the nation’s military is affected by environmental and energy issues, according to Greenwire. In its most recent four-year review, in 2010, the Defense Department said that climate change would play a role in national security plans.
If we aren’t going to stop burning the stuff, maybe there’s room for it in the basement. Identifying the best spots, among the subterranean nooks and crannies, is the purpose of a new Department of Energy atlas of underground storage sites. Last year, the DOE broke ground for a demonstration carbon capture project at an ethanol plant in Illinois.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program, which coordinates across federal agencies the study of social and environmental changes, has released its final research plan for the decade ending in 2021. Using rigorous science to support policy decisions is a primary goal.
Calls for Applications
The U.S. State Department is soliciting applications to develop a workshop on the optimal operation of dams in developing countries, for both technical and environmental parameters. The deadline is June 4.
The Rural Utilities Service, a part of the Department of Agriculture, has nearly US$1 million in grant money to give out to non-profits to establish lending programs for repairing or constructing household wells. The deadline is June 4.
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