Now the oil drillers are getting in on the fracking act. They are touting the possibility that hydraulic fracturing can economically release oil trapped in rock, as is being done for gas. (Note they’d be doing it even if it wasn’t economical, because down the road, it could be.)

Unfortunately, a recent AP article on the matter misses the boat on the previous EPA study of coalbed methane, stating

The agency studied use of the process in shallower drilling operations in 2004 and found that it was safe.

Not so. As I’ve pointed out previously, one of the reasons why this previous EPA study concluded the practice would be safe was because of an important backstop: due to its regulation and oversight within the Underground Injection Control program under the Safe Drinking Water Act.  That backstop was removed in 2005.

We cleaned up many aspects of rivers and streams by having the EPA oversee the states’ surface water pollution control efforts. Without significant federal oversight, local regulators just can’t stand up to the many pressures they face. The loophole removing injection of chemicals from federal oversight should be eliminated.