Maybe this panel appointed by Stephen Chu can compensate for its lack of pollution and pollution control expertise by bringing in some of the right people. It does consist of some fine scientists and environmentalists.

And certainly the panel consists of people who are capable of recognizing this lack, and in addressing it they might help also address weaknesses in EPA’s investigation of hydraulic fracturing.

The panels’ charge includes identifying

any immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of hydraulic fracturing. They will also develop, within six months of beginning their work, consensus recommended advice to the agencies on practices for shale extraction to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

I have some suggestions for this panel, including

  • Weighing in on putting the federal bear back in the regulatory closet by repealing the natural gas exemption instituted back in 2005. This panel is replete with attorneys and ex-regulators. One in particular was head of the environmental regulatory agency in Pennsylvania, which has been considerably fracked and which has served as a bellwhether for New York.
  • Mandating addition of conservative tracers (i.e. ones that don’t break down) to all fracking fluids. How else are we going to really know if water gets polluted by fracking over the long term?
  • Adding air pollution considerations to the EPA’s investigation, which in this respect has been hamstrung.