Today, Congressman Tim Ryan sent a letter to President Barack Obama in support of safe and responsible development of domestic natural gas resources. On April 13, 2012, the President announced the creation of an Interagency Working Group on this issue, and in his letter, Rep. Ryan urges the Administration to include the U.S. Geological Survey and experts in the field of seismology in the Working Group. Congressman Ryan also urges responsible, safe development of natural gas resources in the region, and notes the importance of understanding the connection between well injection/disposal operations and the recent seismic activity in the Youngstown-Warren region.
The full text of the letter follows:
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
RE: Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources
Dear Mr. President:
I want to convey my support for your "all of the above' energy strategy and your administration's attention to and support for increased natural gas development. I also fully support your Executive Order issued on April 13th to create the Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources.
I write today to ask that as you set up the Interagency Working Group, you ensure that the U.S. Geological Survey and experts in the fields of seismology and geology have an opportunity to shape the findings and recommendations of the Working Group. My congressional district, located in northeast Ohio, has seen some of the biggest increases in natural gas development in our country. With this rapid expansion has come both impressive, much-needed economic development, as well as concerns regarding environmental protection and coordination with and between federal agencies. I believe active and engaged oversight will not hamper the much needed economic investment and energy development taking place, but rather will strengthen it by allowing states and the industry to be better prepared to prevent disasters that jeopardize production and harm our environment.
The treatment and disposal of chemical and salt-laden liquids resulting from natural gas extraction have the potential to be the biggest challenges to safe and responsible natural gas production. Most concerning is the possible link between waste and brine water injection wells and earthquakes that have occurred in close proximity to those wells. Indeed, my district has recently experienced a number of earthquakes that are believed to be directly connected to nearby deep well injection/disposal operations. Therefore, the expertise of the U.S. Geological Survey can play a vital role in providing the tools and research necessary to help states confidently oversee drilling operations and conduct underground injection well programs in a way that mitigates the dangers of possible induced-seismic events.
Additionally, I would like to voice my concern with associated air pollution linked to the practice of "flaring' at natural gas production sites. I look forward to reviewing the EPA's newly released rules addressing air pollution at natural gas fracking sites and working with your administration to develop common-sense, cost-effective means of capturing these emissions. Doing so will not only protect the health and well-being of our citizens, but ensure we reap the full economic benefits of this growing industry.
I appreciate your administration's attention and dedication to the development of our country's natural gas resources. Thank you for taking these concerns into consideration and I look forward to your response.