Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Doing Fracking Right; Our View; Environmentalists, Gas Industry Can Find Common Ground

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Doing Fracking Right; Our View; Environmentalists, Gas Industry Can Find Common Ground

Article excerpt

Ill-informed or cynical politicians may ridicule the threat of climate change, but wiser public servants, disciplined environmentalists, enlightened industry leaders and international groups are focused on the serious business of looking for solutions.

A case in point: a report released last week that reviews the development of so-called unconventional gas - natural gas trapped in layers of slate and other dense rock formations and methane gas trapped in seams of coal. These gases release far less destructive carbon when they burn than oil or coal. The report, "Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas," deserves close examination.

It is the work of the respected International Energy Agency, an independent body created 37 years ago within the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development based in Paris. The 150-page report is detailed and complex. It looks at geology, economics, sociology, chemistry and the mechanics of drilling and extraction, including the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

It places special emphasis on the crucial importance of preventing environmental damage to air, water and land and to protecting human health. Industry can keep those very real dangers to a bare minimum, the report stresses, with existing technologies that are relatively inexpensive.

But ensuring long-term safety requires muscular government regulations - some relevant new ones were finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in April - that are enforced fairly and rigorously.

The report's "golden rules" urge "full transparency, measuring and monitoring of environmental impacts and engagement with local communities...." It specifies careful selection of drilling sites to "reduce the above-ground impacts ... while minimizing any risk of earthquakes or of fluids passing between geological strata. …

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