DeGette, Dems push Upton for fracking hearings in wake of DOE report

Colorado’s senior member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, today joined other Democrats in calling on House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton to hold a hearing on a new Department of Energy (DOE) report warning about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing.

Rep. Diana DeGette
Released late last week, the report (pdf) by the DOE’s Advisory Board Subcommittee on Shale Gas Production (SEAB) concluded that “concerted and sustained action is needed to avoid excessive environmental impacts of shale gas production and the consequent risk of public opposition to its continuation and expansion.”

The seven-member SEAB panel released a draft in August that called for more industry transparency and disclosure of the chemicals used in the controversial drilling practice sometimes referred to as “fracking.” Critics say it can contaminate groundwater, which industry officials deny. The makeup of the panel previously had been criticized by scientists who felt it leaned too heavily toward industry interests.

DeGette and Reps. Henry Waxman and Edward Markey want to hear more about the findings in an open committee hearing.

“To date, the committee has not held a single hearing on the topic of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development, despite the importance of natural gas to our energy future and widespread public concern about air and water pollution from natural gas production,” the three Dems wrote (pdf) Upton today. “The SEAB report is a good place to start. We request that you schedule a hearing on this issue as soon as possible.”

Fracking is mostly regulated by state agencies, including the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which is holding a hearing on proposed new chemical disclosure rules next month.