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Ohio Utica Shale

ProPublica looks at exemptions that threaten aquifers

By Bob Downing Published: December 11, 2012

"Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that supply more than half of the nation's drinking water," ProPublica's Abrahm Lustgarten writes in a new report.

These aquifer exemptions, a little-known part of the government's Underground Injection Control program, allow companies to discard waste freely underground, and in many cases, no water monitoring or long-term study is required.

To make matters worse, Lustgarten found that the EPA hasn't even been keeping track of exactly how many exemptions have been issued, where they are, or whom they might affect.

Lustgarten explains that the recent surge in domestic drilling and rush for uranium has brought a spike in exemption applications, as well as political pressure not to block or delay them.


But the biggest problem now, experts say, is that the EPA's criteria for evaluating applications are outdated. "The rules - last revised nearly three decades ago - haven't adapted to improving water treatment technology and don't reflect the changing value and scarcity of fresh water."

He goes on to note specific problems in Colorado, California and Texas; how aquifers once considered unusable can now be processed for drinking water at a reasonable price using modern technology; and how EPA officials say the agency has quietly assembled an unofficial internal task force to re-evaluate its aquifer exemption policies.


Click  here  to read the story, entitled Poisoning the Well: How the Feds Let Industry Pollute the Nation's Underground Water Supply.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.