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tv   [untitled]    June 6, 2012 10:00pm-10:30pm EDT

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over 600,000 people in the united states. according to api it accounts for nearly 4 million jobs and adds more than $385 billion to the national economy. gas royalties are a significant revenue source for federal government, state of utah and to the counties from where it comes. in 208 there were over $200 million of mineral lease money collected from my county alone. shell gas and hydraulic fracturing has single-handedly turned the united states from a nation of declining gas production to one of rising production. if i could just let me, add one, and i will complete with this -- i was approached by a tribal attorneys. and this is an issue that they have as well. oil and gas producing indian tribes are very much against the blms proposed rule as some members of this subcommittee may be aware, a large portion of reservation of the indian tribe
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rests, rests within the boundaries of the county ion tau. the indian tribe is one of the largest, natural gas producing tribes. the blms proposal would impact tribal minerals in the county. yet despite this fact, blm has failed to comply with its legal duty to consult with indian tribes. the blm rule will kill tribal jobs in the oil and gas industry. blm has failed to work with the indian tribe regarding the proposed rule. in summary, local governments, many, many mineral producing states, and affected indian tribes are all concerned with this very ill advised unneeded redundant rule. i would be happy to answer questions. thank you. >> thank you. this is a letter from national council of american indians, outlining some of the things you
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said. >> mr. chairman? i would without objecting ask for similar courtesy. i ask that at this time, a response to the testimony this morning from our colleague mr. waxman be entered into the record. i also ask that a similar response, rebutting the characterization of the research from the sierra club, cited this morning, also be entered into the record at this time. >> without objection. >> i thank the chair. >> thank you, mr. chairman. my name is robert howerth, tenured at cornell university since 1985. i am here as an individual. i do not represent the university, though the opinions i express are informed by my research conducted at cornell. i have risk assessment and consequences of environmental pollution, oil and gas, since the mid 70s.
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i was invited to present information on the environmental public health hydraulic fracturing. the process existed for decades. but it existed on a small scale using small vol up umes of wate. high precision directional drilling with high volume hydraulic fracturing, using 50 to 100 times more water than was used in fracturing until a decade or so ago, 5 million or gallons per well. this new technology has indeed opened up new resources from shale gas and other gas. the technology is very, very new. i want to stress that. as a result, the science, our understanding what the consequences are is also very, very new. for contest, half of all of the shale gas developed in the world has been produced in the last three years. so new technology, the science is new. in terms of peer review
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literature on what the environmental consequences are, it's almost all in the last year. the very first papers were published 14 months ago. science is new. very rapidly changing. i will try to, give a sense of that today. one issue surface water pollution. very briefly. i want to say there is good evidence that high drawling fra -- hydraulic fracturing contaminated surface waters, improper waste disposal through sewage plants. city of pittsburgh had a water quality problem with that, bromides entering into its system. it is outlawed in pennsylvania. but not outlawed in other states. we still don't have good alternatives for disposing of the hydraulic waste in much of the country. ground waltwater contamination appears to be a big issue. the science is very iffy at the moment. a lot of information is not publicly available making science difficult.
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the u.s. environmental protection agency is undertaking a long, detailed study on that. i think most scientists would say we should hold off and see what they come up with. but there is anecdotal evidence of a problem. i could talk more about that in questions if people would like. excellent evidence, evidence of methane contamination from hydraulic fracturing in wells. well documented in pennsylvania. local air pollution is an issue. there are two i will point to. one is benzene, emitted to the atmosphere from high drawl hydr fracturing. and texas reports values hazardous, some times acutely lethal doses. pennsylvania reports much lower concentration sews f secentrati a chronic cancer risk from exposure. big problem, ozone pollution, hydraulic fracturing, methane and carbon, released make ground
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level ozone pollution. we are seeing large amounts of ozone pollution in western states where it is all mo never been seen as a problem before. say in the winter in wyoming, utah, colorado, the ozone concentrations are higher than in los angeles or new york city. and this is undoubtedly a direct relation to hydraulic fracturing. my own research has been on the role of methane released from shale gas and how that affects the green house gas footprint. we published very, very first analysis of that 13 1/2 months ago. our conclusion was that because methane is 105 fold more fou powerful as a green house gas, methane leakage at small rates is a serious green house gas concern. giving shale gas a larger green house gas footprint than fossil fuels. i will come back to that in a minute. i want to briefly mention one other issue, radon in gas supplies.
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radon its a gas, carcinogenic, major exposure of ionizing radiation to the public in the united states currently. natural gas is a major root of exposure to getting radon into the homes. shale gas from the shale is richer in radon. this is something that deserves attention, scrutiny, a lot more study in my opinion. it poses a significant public health risk that has the gone underappreciated so far. i believe the federal agencies have a central role in regulating oil and gas development generally but also particularly with development of the unconventional oil and gas, high volume, hydraulic fracturing. issues are complex. they're new. the technologies are new. they're continually evolving. and with my experience, interacting with agency, scientists, managers in many states, men federal agencies
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over the last s 35 yea35 years, states lack the xw pexpertise. in water, air, pipelines moves across state lines. clearly a role for federal involvement. i would look to take a final moment if i could to briefly respond to written testimony of my fellow witness here to the left. he is very critical of our work on green house gas the i would look to set the record straight on that. i have written an addendum to my testimony to do so. i would also like to ask the committee to take into formal part of the record, this paper methane missions from natural gas systems which i and other co-authors wrote for the u.s. national climate assessment at the request of the office of see if yescience and policy.
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our work is compared with all other studies done on this topic. >> without objection we accept that in the record. >> our estimates of methane emissions were the first. what it shows is we are conservative and low, the methane emissions are worse than we said. be happy to go into more detail on that work if the committee is interested. but my time is over. so thank you very much for the opportunity to talk with you today. >> thank you. >> well, thank you. and thank you for the opportunity to be here. not sure when the last time washington, d.c. saw a duel out in front of the congressional offices, but me and my good colleague, bob holwarth may have to have one after this.
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we in pennsylvania have a comprehensive program to regulate what is not a new activity in pennsylvania,girl and gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing. we have been doing it for 60 years. each state is different. that's the key. pennsylvania is not oklahoma, same as texas or new york necessarily. we have regulations, regarding well casing in cement, for the drilling process. we have regulation for water handling and surface water. we have regulations for air impact. short-term air impact studies. long-term impact studies. one of the things that was mentioned by the professor, the sewage treatment plant in pittsburgh. the states are very capable, agile and know enough about what's going on in their backyard to take the appropriate steps. my colleague at the end testified about stronger, stronger did review pennsylvania's regulations in 2010. those regulations were reviewed
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very well. just recently suny-buffalo, this may in this report, followed up on that that brought it current. that report concluded that there was compelling case of pennsylvania's oversight of oil and gas regulation has been effective. we have a brand new statute in pennsylvania proving the agility of state to act which brought on some new requirements regarding set backs. regarding disclosure we have one of the most forward thinking advanced disclosure provisions of any state in the union. for the first time ever requiring disclosure to medical professionals. and i heard what the professor said about the methane study and his methane study and his criticism of my criticism of it. i just have to note that i'll have to take a number and get in line for the folks that are
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critiquing the professor's report. that's part of the academic process and that's all fair. that's what we should be doing. i do have to take some exception to some of the points. atmospheric benzene levels near quote some drilling sights. they're not mentioned in this testimony. i'm not sure what he's talk about with respect to chronic exposure and so forth. that's a toxicologist purview. the report that there's been several reported contamination of drinking waters by frac fluids in pennsylvania is not true. not even the duke study crew a connection between any frac fluids being in the water in pennsylvania and methane migration let me remind everybody, methane migration has been a creature in pennsylvania for generations. it's probably been a creature in
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other states as well. any drilling if it's not done right can cause contamination or can cause methane migration. that's why in pennsylvania we have our well casing and cementing regulations that we put into place because we knew with our geology was like and we knew what was necessary on the floor. and i would agree with what the professor says that this area is complex. it is evolving. it is difficult. that's reason the states should be on top of regulating. the states know how to react to those things. it's a proven record in pennsylvania. we know the science in the states. we're not idiots in the states compared to the federal government, for example, who knows everything. that's not the way it works. i would take a little bit of a discussion point with the ranking member. the way environmental regulation works in this country is primarily based on state delegation. state running with the ball to regulate environmental matters in terms of hydraulic fracturing, i talk about it in
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my testimony, the history is clear. the federal government has never indicated an interest, any administration, any congress, any epa in regulating hydraulic fracturing until all of a sudden now there's a huge interest to get into it from various different aspects. that's all borne out in the history of the safe drinking water act. that's all borne out in the bipartisan 2005 energy policy act which did nothing more than restate what the long standing policy had been with respect the safe drinking water acts nonregulation of fracking. with that i conclude and i look forward to some more questions and discussion. >> thank you for that. i yield to myself for just a moment. i want to bring a quick prop. this a shale rock. and for those of you that are state regulators you're very, very aware of it. sometimes we lose track of the fact. when we're talking about pulling out oil and natural gas out of the ground, many people people are used to conventional
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wells with a pocket of oil or a pocket of gas there. the gas or the oil is not around this. it's inside of this. how it gets pulled out in this process is technology that is impressive in the way that it's done. to drill down, to put a well a mile deep sometimes two miles long underground through this rock just like this solid rock to frac it with water and with some props and pull out of this oil or gas is revolutionary. this is why we have such a tremendous supply online. we're pulling energy out of rocks. not out of a pool. not around this, from this. so it is somewhat a revolution, i understand that. it's not new in the past couple of years. in 2005 congress was very specific on this. that epa had regulatory oversight on it only if it had diesel fuels in the fracking fluid.
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my question is for any of you, why has this become such an issue dealing with fracking right now? in the last couple years, why has there been such a rise in so many areas about fracking? i know this is an opinion guess for you. >> we'll heavy to make responses short, we are short on time. >> as i stressed in my testimony the ability to get that fantastic resource out of the shale, you're right, it is incredible technology, but it is new technology. it was developed first in texas somewhat in oklahoma in the south areas which are very different than what's going on now. >> right now there's been an incredible shift on it. this has been known for several years since 2005 legislation on it. why right now has there been such a rush to it. has there been some new breakthrough the epa administrator has told us repeatedly they have not found from epa a single site of ground
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water contamination from ground water fracking. >> i believe the epa probably told you is that they were not aware of a single case where the action of the fracking led to water contamination. there are multiple publicly known cases where there's water contamination associated with the development of shale gas or other types. >> you're talking about from the surface? >> no. including from wells. there's a documented incidence of at least 1% perhaps up to 6% of well failure. >> here's what i know typically. there have been some very public cases of this from the epa in the past year and half. the epasses they begin testing the wells and later that was just methane that's naturally occurring. it's migrating into an area. a chemical that was present there. most recently on may 11th of this year in pennsylvania epa quietly released what was initially a panic to say that frac fluids have caused all this they've come back and said we were wrong.
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that was not a source of that. there has been a shift that occurred here. let me move on to a couple of areas as well. >> if i can make one case-- the methane contamination is clearly as a result of the hydraulic fracturing of the shales. the study from duke university, from the national academy of sciences is unambiguous. >> if you can pull some of that. we'll receive that as well. epa has disagreed on several of those. methane is a naturally occurring substance that does move as well. i'd like to say the same thing on this as well. is geology the same in utah, in pennsylvania and oklahoma? same rock, same depth of water, same soils are things the same in all three of your states underground? >> no. absolutely not. they're not the same geologically, topographically, meteorologically, weather, or on the surface, on the duke study i
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take issue with the professor again. the duke study was very limited. and other studies have come out including one from center for rural pennsylvania which seemed to lead to another conclusion. and in your more fundamental question, why all this attention. i will refer to you and not go through it. there was a great article, everything you heard about fossil fuels may be wrong. by michael lind. it's in the new america foundation. it's all about what he thinks why all this attention has grown. natural gas which used to be viewed as maybe a bridge fuel, a fossil fuel for people who don't like fossil fuel could hold their nose and get through could be the fuel of the century. that has caused some cognitive dissonance among some interest groups ere go the push back. >> you've seen and there's a shift of investment out of the west to the east i assume you mean out of the lands and there is a fear that you have that you're about to lose the
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potential of getting energy is it because you're running out of energy underground in your area? what would be the reason that there's this sense of investment moving away from your area? >> first of all, there's a tremendous resource of energy in our area. as i mentioned there's 111 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. an immense of oil, oil shale. all these different resources. it's not because a lack of opportunity. there's enough to help us with great energy independence. public policy definitely makes these changes. we have seen investment shift just because of a public policy. >> when you say public policy, what do you mean? >> well, blm policy, having to do the way, with leases, you know those different types of policies that come out of bureau of land management, this is just another example. when it comes much easier to invest on private lands compared to public lands, in my county as i may have mentioned only 15% of my county is privately held in
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the west much of our land is public lands. if we take that opportunity off the table, what are we going to the national security and the opportunities of energy independence when we have unneeded, redundant policies. to more of the specific question, at least out in our area, most of our wells are at least a mile deep. some of them would go a couple miles deep. we're not dealing with shale gas. that's why again i think it's valuable that these decisions are made on state levels. when you have a one size fit all type of regulation, i visited with consultants and some of the proposed rules to make absolutely no sense at all, there's not time for that here today. the states best handle these kind of policies. >> thank you. >> i thank the chair and welcome to our panel.
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i unfortunately had to be at a funeral this morning of a close friend and i did not hear your testimony, and i had it described to me. but if i understand correctly your testimony in essence says based on your experience in pennsylvania, you believe the other 49 states can also live with pure state regulation we don't need federal regulation in this particular enterprise, is that an accurate characterization of your testimony? >> i'm sorry. that's probably based on my experience in pennsylvania, pennsylvania is very well to regulate fracking. based on my experience with the environmental council of the states, my experience with other colleagues of mine that do this work, i'm convinced they can do it in their states. it's not done in every state. that's why we have groups like
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stronger that help us do this as states. >> based on what i heard you testify, it sound like, pennsylvania has a robust regulatory framework. you cited chemical disclosure laws that you have to enforce. you feel it works very well in pennsylvania. is that not correct? >> that is correct. i invite you to visit pennsylvania and show you firsthand how it works. i can take you to a well site together. >> i want to high school in pennsylvania. i got married in pennsylvania. i have a lot of ties in pennsylvania. i would be glad to do it. but let me ask, does your expertise extend to the other 49 states, certainly you are not in position to testify, based on empirical evidence that the other 49 states are as robust as pennsylvania. >> that question, i don't know how to respond to it it's not a 49 state issue. other states -- many other states do not do fracking at all. the ones that do do it have a
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track record that indicate they can do it. oklahoma, texas, west virginia, ohio, et cetera. even if they don't have an existing prom now they as states and i can this as my experience as a state regulator are in the best position to know their states, know what to do and get the regulatory plan that they need in their state. >> but you would concede at least as an intellectual could see that will could be a state where fracking is occurring that is not as robust and diligent as pennsylvania. >> i could concede that sasquatch is in the woods. that doesn't get us anywhere. >> this is my time. and the point is you don't have expertise with respect to the other states. you do with pennsylvania. >> that's a red herring you don't either. the bottom line is -- >> the issue here is whether or not the federal government has a role. you've testified you think it should not have a role. >> no, i don't think the issue is whether the federal government has a role.
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the issue is whether the federal government should have a preemptive role or why won't it, or shouldn't it have a preemptive role. i'm here to say it should not have a preemptive role. it should be a role in which we discuss things together. i often communicate with my counterpart at region three. and i'm sure my other counterparts do that as well. the question on the table is the fundamental one, ranking member who is in the better place. are you in the better place in washington to tell oklahoma what to do? are you in the better place in washington to tell us in pennsylvania what to do. the bottom line is no. >> thank you. i would simply say those are the same kinds of arguments that have been used for generations against federal involvement. if we were talking 40, 45 years ago about for example jim crow laws in the south and civil rights movement we would have heard testimony -- >> with all -- >> it is my time.
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mr. chairman, i insist that committee rules be adhered to. this is my time and i gave you the benefit of the doubt and allowed you to answer as you wish. it's now my time. and i believe that that philosophy is in error. i don't share it. >> that philosophy was enacted in 2000 -- >> allow the mep were to speak. >> i thank you, mr. chairman. i believe that the philosophy that there's no role for the federal government or never be a preemptive role for the federal government has been proved false by history. that's what this hearing was designed to do. as was the hearing this morning. i don't share the philosophy. the fact that you had a good experience in pennsylvania i don't believe can be extrapolated to the rest of the country. as you've indicated you don't have the expertise to say here at this table under oath that you are satisfied based on empirical evidence that all of the other states involved have similar robust regimes of
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regulatory regimes. dr. howarth, you talked about methane, help us understand, what's wrong with methane? cows exhibit methane. >> methane comes from lots of sources. but the suingle largest source f methane is the methane gas industry. >> at least 39% or methane pollution comes from fracking. >> so what? why should we care? >> it is an incredibly powerful greenhouse gas. it's a low hanging fruit to address global warming. if we get methane under control we are far better along than co-2. i can go into more detail on that. it is a major contributor to ground level ozone. i mentioned that briefly in my statement. i should point out that ground level ozone already causes 30,000 premature deaths in the united states every year. >> methane in and of itself is not a danger except for the global warming part. >> methane is not toxic. >> but it helps create increased
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level of ozone. >> it leads to increased level of ozone. >> ozone is a danger. >> is ozone regulated? >> it is. >> right here in the capital region, we are subject to, nonattainment area, serious epa regulation with respect to ground level ozone is that correct? >> that's correct. >> that might be a concern. i am running out of time. one of the other concerns that has come up. help us understand the science of it a little bit, what about reports of seismic events associated with the, the return, i geshgs of -- i guess of fracking? >> there's been an increase in earthquakes, a large number of small earthquakes in several places, ohio, oklahoma.
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the u.s. geological survey after a thorough study has attributed this to disposal of frac return waste into ground disposal wells that's changed the geology in such a way as to increase that earthquake risk. and they have seen the increase. i should point out the industry is moving more towards getting oil rather than gas out of the shale because of market considerations relative prices of the two and the largest oil reserves and in the united states are in the central valley of california and los angeles basin. there the earthquake concerns with disposal of frac waste should give pause. >> we do have great differences of opinion as to where we're going with this. when i'm back home in western pennsylvania there's a great deal of concern about federal government again getting involved in areas where those people in those states don't really think they should be. why now?


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