Sunday, December 27, 2009

Drilling in Marcellus Shale leaves more chemicals than expected, as Congress reconsiders exemption

Gas drilling companies leave a lot more water and chemicals in the Marcellus Shale formation, right, than they did in similar formations elsewhere when they won an exemption from federal regulation four years ago partly with arguments that relatively little drilling fluid remained, Abram Lustgarten of ProPublica reports. The news could affect debate on a bill in Congress that would eliminate the exemption. (ProPublica map)

"When lawmakers approved that exemption, it was generally accepted that only about 30 percent of the fluids stayed in the ground. At the time, fracturing was also used in far fewer wells than it is today and required far less fluid," Lustgarten writes. "Three company spokesmen and a regulatory officials said in separate interviews with ProPublica that as much as 85 percent of the fluids used during hydraulic fracturing is being left underground after wells are drilled in the Marcellus Shale." (Read more)

Meanwhile, Mike Lee and Elizabeth Campbell of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram report on problems caused by a disposal well for chemicals used to extract gas from the Barnett Shale, a formation similar to the Marcellus. "There have also been reports of problems in small-town water wells and private water wells across the Barnett Shale," they write.

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