Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

March 26, 2013

A breakthrough on fracking

Last week brought a heartening breakthrough in the war over fracking: A handful of major green groups and big drillers agreed on environmental standards.

We’d forgive you for raising a skeptical eyebrow. Some in the industry have been claiming that fracking — which involves pumping fluid underground to extract natural gas from rock formations — needs no more rules. Some environmentalists, meanwhile, have been ringing the alarm so loudly that the practice seems too dangerous even to contemplate.

But the right path was never to let drillers continue without more oversight, nor was it to ban fracking. America’s natural gas boom is far too important an opportunity — economic and environmental — to ignore. But sound regulations are needed to ensure that it is not an ecological disaster. These new rules are a large step toward striking the right balance, and everyone involved deserves credit.

The Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Task Force and some other green advocates joined with Chevron, Shell and other energy companies to create the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, an independent standard-setter that will certify when companies comply with its rules. The rule-writing process is ongoing, but the center’s initial offering is impressive, outpacing the government’s regulatory efforts and addressing many of the major environmental concerns.

The standards demand that drillers recycle as much fluid as possible and not discharge what’s left into waterways. Drillers would have to buttress their wells with casing and cement. They would have to disclose all the chemicals in the drilling fluid they use. The engines that operate rigs and transport material would have to meet high emissions standards. One critical rule would oblige firms to study the local environment before drilling and then strictly monitor it, including ground and surface water, after. This would discourage risk-taking and provide valuable data to help move the debate from emotion to evidence.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Your new password: sur**nder Have you changed your passwords since the security flaw known as Heartbleed emerged? Have you made sure they're all long, alphanumeric and randomized? Did you use a unique one for every site -- every bank account, every e- mail address, every music-s

    April 17, 2014

  • Hillary leans on Bill, Obama Recently Hillary Clinton gave what appeared at first to be a rambling and unfocused answer when asked to name the proudest achievement of her four years as Secretary of State. The short version is, she doesn't have one. But Clinton's words make a lot

    April 17, 2014

  • If GOP lost culture war, liberals did, too The "culture wars" have been a feature of American politics for almost a century, but recently a number of commentators have declared their end. Conservatives have lost, swept aside by a wave of enthusiasm for marriage equality and sexualized mass cu

    April 17, 2014

  • Cable guys too slow with Internet upgrade Remember the good-old 1990s, when you could make a pot of coffee while waiting for the screeching dial-up modem to connect to the Internet at a leisurely 9.6 kilobits per second? Two decades later, the average American household's connection is 1,000

    April 16, 2014

  • A May Day fable SPRINGFIELD -- Growing up during the Cold War, May Day always was a bit ominous. On the evening news, we'd watch tanks, missiles and soldiers march by the reviewing stands in Moscow, Beijing and Havana where stone-faced Communist leaders would look

    April 16, 2014

  • Display it proudly Editor: Drive past the demolition site of the old Good Samaritan Hospital on North 12th Street in Mt. Vernon and you will see the Stars and Stripes proudly flying from the flag pole. The hospital has been reduced to a pile of debris, but Old Glory st

    April 16, 2014

  • Got raw milk ... and salmonella? A refresher course in the work of Louis Pasteur should be mandatory for advocates of so-called raw milk. For anyone who missed fourth-grade science, Pasteur discovered that heating milk for a very brief time killed E. coli, salmonella, listeria, camp

    April 16, 2014

  • Heartburn Tens of millions of Americans have been affected by the theft of their personal information in the digital age. In a recent major data breach at Target stores, numbers and names were taken from about 40 million customers, and many millions more suffe

    April 15, 2014

  • Hitting home I received an article today with a suggestion to use it in a column. This one really hit home to me because it was about the outrageous price increases in diabetic testing devices and supplies. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes several years ago.

    April 15, 2014

  • The cost of care This was a breakthrough week for health-care transparency. For the first time, the Obama administration released doctor-specific information about Medicare payments, starting with 2012 data on $64 billion worth of billings. Journalists immediately se

    April 15, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks