Monday, January 30, 2012

Letters and Lies from Congressman Cynthia Lummis


January 20, 2012

 

William Harasym

200 Smith Street, Apt. 410

Sheridan, Wyoming 82801-3842


 

Dear William:

 

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding proposals to extend federal Safe Drinking Water Act jurisdiction over the well-established drilling technology called hydraulic fracturing. I appreciate hearing from you.

 

Hydraulic fracturing is a commonly used practice in oil and natural gas production - I have seen estimates that over 90% of all non-conventional wells currently utilize it. After a well is drilled into reservoir rock that contains oil or natural gas, a fluid made up mostly of water and sand is injected under high pressure. The pressure exceeds the rock strength and the fluid opens or enlarges fractures in the rock. These fractures then allow the oil or natural gas to move more freely from the rock pores through an encased production well to the surface.

 

After questions were raised as to this practice's effect on water contamination and human health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studied the issue in depth. The result of those studies was a 2004 EPA report stating that no evidence has been found linking the practice of hydraulic fracturing to the contamination of underground drinking water. Another such study was just authorized in the fiscal year 2010 Interior Appropriations Act and I look forward to its completion.  Science should drive policy on this issue, not the other way around.

Regardless of the science, several Democrat Representatives in the U.S. House introduced in the 111th Congress the "Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act of 2009" (H.R. 2766), a bill to extend the regulatory jurisdiction of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to cover hydraulic fracturing. The bill sponsors assert that such action is necessary to protect underground water aquifers. The fact is, however, past studies simply do not support that claim.

 

Multiple federal, state and local regulations currently ensure the monitoring, reporting, and remediation of any environmental impacts that occur during domestic oil and gas production. States have historically been the primary regulators of hydraulic fracturing and, as such, have developed comprehensive laws and regulations to provide for safe drilling operations. I am proud of the job the trained personnel at Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality have done to effectively regulate oil and natural gas production practices. Furthermore, in June of 2010 Wyoming's Oil and Gas Commission voted to require companies to disclose to state regulators the contents of its fracturing chemicals. These state-led rules are the strongest in the nation. To extend additional federal jurisdiction to this process is both duplicative and, from a scientific perspective, unnecessary. Further, I fear the delays and costs of additional permitting requirements could curtail the development of vast amounts of unconventional energy resources currently being explored by private industry, resulting in the need for additional foreign imports of fuels we could be developing here at home.

The State of Wyoming has also made itself very clear on this issue. During the 2009 General Session, our State Legislature passed a Joint Resolution asking Congress not to extend Safe Drinking Water Act jurisdiction over the hydraulic fracturing process. I commend them for this action, and will do my best to steer my colleagues in Washington toward Wyoming's common sense and science-based approach to this issue. Protecting our nation's drinking water supply is a goal we can all support. We should be basing the rules and regulations to accomplish this goal on science and expertise, however, not emotion and scare tactics.

 

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.  I value your input.  If you haven't done so already, I would like to encourage you to visit my website at www.lummis.house.gov.  There you can sign up to receive my newsletter, and have access to a wealth of other information.  I won't flood your email box, but I will provide you with updates once in a while about activities in Washington that affect our lives in Wyoming.  I hope you will sign up so that we can stay in close touch, and I look forward to seeing you in Wyoming.

 

 


 

 

January 20, 2012

William Harasym

200 Smith Street, Apt. 410

Sheridan, Wyoming 82801-3842


Dear William:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I appreciate hearing from you.

In the years since President Obama was sworn into office, the EPA has proposed and promulgated a staggering number of new and updated regulations. Prior to the Republicans retaking the majority in the House of Representatives, the agency also enjoyed an astronomical increase in their tax-payer funded budget. While the total number of regulations is somewhat difficult to quantify, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce estimates that the agency is currently reviewing or has recently completed as many as 69 separate regulatory measures in recent years. Some of these are relatively small, and some, like regulating green house gas emissions, would have dramatic altering affects on the U.S. economy.

That the agency is undergoing regulatory reviews is not in itself surprising. Rather, it is the insistence of the Obama Administration that these rules should go into effect absent any thought or care to the consequences on our nation's businesses and economy. In efforts ranging from farm dust, to brick kilns, to cement manufacturing, to boilers used at the nation's universities, to recyclable coal ash, the EPA is insisting upon standards so burdensome that in many cases the technology either doesn't even exist to satisfy the standard, the timeline to implement the changes is impossible to meet, or the costs to make the improvements would mean an astronomical rise in prices for consumers. In the case of coal ash, the EPA is considering classifying this recyclable material as a hazardous waste, thereby ending its recyclable uses. For example, coal ash from Wyoming was used to help build the runways at Denver International Airport. I was pleased to vote for H.R. 2273, which would allow for the continued beneficial use of coal ash. Perhaps most troubling is the EPA's use of agency "guidance" documents, which are intended to offer technical guidance on implementation of laws, but in recent years has been used to broaden the scope of the EPA's mandate outside the legal process.

When operating as a cooperative agency that offers technical assistance to states, and policing bad actors under existing law, the EPA can be an effective and helpful agency. Rather than attempting to usher in rule after rule that pays no attention to the real life consequences, the agency should work to help reduce emissions in a manner that is achievable, and does not sacrifice our economy for the sake of limited environmental benefit. Keep in mind that current rules have resulted in a 60% reduction in emissions since 1970. In other words, EPA and state enforcement of current rules is already successful, and calls into question the need for additional layers of bureaucracy at great cost. With my seat on the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the EPA's budget, I intend to use the budget to help steer the EPA toward a more realistic vision. In addition, I have joined as cosponsor on a number of EPA related legislative efforts, including bills to require the EPA to take a realistic look at how its rules would impact jobs. I am very pleased that the House has taken up a number of these bills, including H.R. 2401, the TRAIN Act, and H.R. 2018, a bill to restore the appropriate balance between state regulatory agencies and the EPA when it comes to Clean Water and Clean Air Act guidelines.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me. I value your input. If you haven't done so already, I would like to encourage you to visit my website at www.lummis.house.gov. There you can sign up to receive my newsletter, and have access to a wealth of other information. I won't flood your email box, but I will provide you with updates once in a while about activities in Washington that affect our lives in Wyoming. I hope you will sign up so that we can stay in close touch, and I look forward to seeing you in Wyoming.

Sincerely,

z

Cynthia M. Lummis

Member of Congress

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