Today, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.), the Ranking Democrat on the Natural Resource Committee's Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee asked Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for more information about the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," on federal lands.
The New York Times recently published an investigative report on the practice of natural gas extraction and the high incidence of radioactive materials and other contaminants in wastes produced as a result of hydraulic fracturing. In response, over the weekend, Rep. Markey sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inquiring into the safety and monitoring of the process for natural gas extraction and any impacts it has on drinking water supplies and the environment.
A recent Energy and Commerce Committee investigation of hydraulic fracturing also found that oil and natural gas companies injected more than 32 million gallons of diesel fuel into gas wells between 2005 and 2009. Following the release of the results of this investigation, Rep. Holt and Rep. Maurice Hinchey wrote the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) urging it to suspend its current natural gas development rulemaking process in light of these disclosures.
"As industry expands the use of this technology to tap into more oil and gas reserves, we must ensure that the process of hydraulic fracturing is performed in a safe and environmentally sound manner on both private and public lands," writes Reps. Markey and Holt. "Extracting natural gas on public lands should not result in a threat to public health."