U.S. study raises warnings about oil and gas production

U.S. study raises warnings about oil and gas production by Carrie Tait, June 14, 2012, The Globe and Mail
Companies discharging water produced from certain types of natural gas wells may be harming – and even killing – aquatic wildlife in the United States, leaving scientists warning the same may hold true for other types of oil and gas operations. The U.S. Geological Survey, working in concert with other agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection agency, released results of an eight-year study Thursday, concluding salty water from coal-bed natural gas production that ends up in streams and rivers is adversely affecting fish and other organisms. While the scientists did not provide any regulatory recommendations, the study’s results could affect energy laws around the globe should the United States crack down on water rules. Controversy around hydraulic fracturing, which is an important and prolific oil and gas extraction method, already has green groups and landowners upset, and concerns raised in the USGS report will further stir emotions. … “Though this investigation focuses on the Tongue and Powder river basins, the information is applicable to other watersheds where sodium bicarbonate is a principal component of product water either from [coal-bed natural gas] or from traditional or unconventional oil and gas development,” the agency said in its report. … Given that the USGS indicated the problem could extend beyond coal-bed natural gas wells, the effect on the industry could be widespread.

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