Green investors Wednesday weighed in on recently announced EPA plans to study the increasingly popular but controversial process of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells that has opened up vast new reserves around the nation.
Richard Liroff, executive director of the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN), presented comments to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board panel evaluating EPA’s plans to study the process, which involves the high-pressure injection of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals into natural gas wells to fracture, or “frack,” tight geological formations and free up more gas.
Environmental groups and concerned residents of heavily drilled parts of the country, including Colorado, have been pushing hard for the passage of federal legislation introduced by Colorado Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis that would compel the industry to disclose the chemicals being used in order to determine their impact on groundwater and public health.
Industry officials maintain the chemicals are proprietary and that the process should remain exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act – a move made under the Bush administration in 2005.
“Investors depend on good science to help make sound investment decisions. But we’re finding enormous information gaps that need to be addressed,” Liroff said in his comments to the EPA. “EPA’s research can help fill these gaps.”
IEHN and Green Century Capital Management represent numerous investor groups concerned that contamination of groundwater by fracking could impact public health and expose natural gas investors to legal liability.
“Companies and regulators must ensure natural gas drilling is done in a way that protects the environment, especially our drinking water, and therefore mitigates potential regulatory, legal and other risks to company bottom lines,” Liroff said. “We commend the EPA for taking this important step that will help investors and companies make well informed decisions.”