More fodder for FRAC Act backers as Pa. officials shut down fracking ops

State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials in Pennsylvania have ordered Texas-based Cabot Oil and Gas to stop all hydraulic fracturing activities in Susquehanna County after a series of chemical spills into local groundwater supplies.

ProPublica reported on Friday that DEP officials shut down all of Cabot’s hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in response to the latest of three spills traced to the company and its drilling-service contractors, Halliburton and Baker Tanks.

The problems in Pennsylvania could supply lawmakers even more ammunition in the ever-intensifying national campaign to strip a Safe Drinking Water Act exemption for the process that was granted during the Bush administration. Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette is leading the charge on that front with her so-called FRAC Act – a measure hotly debated in and around the gas fields of Colorado’s Western Slope.

“The department took this action because of our concern about Cabot’s current fracking process and to ensure that the environment in Susquehanna County is properly protected,” the DEP’s Robert Yowell said in a release Friday.

ProPublic reported the stop-work order suspended drilling on seven new wells the company was planned to frack in the county.

“There were unique elements of the location that experienced the three incidents and it was not necessary to force a shutdown of all fracturing activities,” Cabot spokesman Ken Komoroski told ProPublica. “However, Cabot understands the department has an important job to do.”

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