On Friday, EPA announced that it had finished testing the drinking water in Dimock, Pennsylvania–a town that has become the epicenter of the hydraulic fracturing debate–and found no contaminants at levels of concern.
Will this settle things once and for all? Of course not. But it does seem to indicate that Pennsylvania’s fracking regulations are working. That’s important because, partly based on fears that contamination may be occurring, the federal government jumped in and started regulating hydraulic fracturing.
One month ago, President Obama issued an Executive Order that not only recognized that “states are the primary regulators of onshore oil and gas activities,” but also that having ten different federal agencies all trying to regulate in addition to those states was a bad idea.
The Executive Order made sense. What happened in the weeks afterwards didn’t. Since the order was issued, the industry received three new federal regulations on fracking (two from EPA and one from the Department of Interior), which will undoubtedly interfere with state regulations. The same state regulations that, according to EPA, made 61 out of 61 wells in Dimock safe.
Ross Eisenberg is vice president of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.