API’s Stephanie Meadows testifies at the DRBC hearing asking the DRBC to base their decisions on hydraulic fracturing on sound science not accusations.
Good evening DRBC Commissioners and Staff.
My name is Stephanie Meadows. I am a Manager in the Upstream Department of the American Petroleum Institute. I have been working on hydraulic fracturing issues for API since 2008.
Let me start out by making something clear – Our top priority is to provide energy in a safe, technologically sound way with the least possible impact on the environment. Our members take their responsibility to the surrounding communities seriously and we work with federal and state agencies to develop design standards, recommended practices, and guidance that will improve operational integrity and regulatory processes across the board.
It is important to note that within the current Vision Statement of this Commission, it states that comprehensive watershed management will be accomplished by “basing decisions on sound science.”
Therefore, the DRBC’s final decision on high volume hydraulic fracturing must be grounded in the science. While both the Commission and critics continue to contend that the stimulation process can pollute and will pollute water resources, that accusation is simply not grounded in the science” – or to be more clear – “that is not what the sound science shows.”
In the proposed rulemaking, the Commission relies heavily on two specific studies to make its claims of the risks and vulnerabilities associated with fracturing – the New York’s SGEIS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s hydraulic fracturing/ water resources study.
In response, there are a series of recent reputable studies, by no fewer than seven government agencies and several academic institutions, which support the conclusion that hydraulic fracturing is not a major threat to drinking water. In 2017, a Natural Resources Defense Council-funded Duke University study and a United States Geological Survey (USGS) study found fracturing is not contaminating groundwater in West Virginia and significant portions of the Eagle Ford, Fayetteville and Haynesville shale plays, respectively.
EPA’s own 6 year, $30 million study was unable to draw a significant correlation between hydraulic fracturing and impaired water resources. The bottom-line? Fracturing activities have not led to widespread systemic impacts. Where it has been suggested that “fracturing can or might cause impacts under certain conditions” we stress that those potential impacts have been addressed for years by what I call the three-legged stool — which consists of:
- ever improving industry practices (including individual company management practices)
- robust state regulatory programs, and
- Federal regulations.
As a standard setting organization, API has a primary role as a stable leg of this stool. We have developed a series of hydraulic fracturing recommended practices, originally published in 2011 and revised in 2015 — these can be found on our website.
It this powerful combination of activities — all working together to provide an effective structure that allows for the essential development of the nation’s oil and natural gas resources while protecting the environment.
The Commission should recognize the existing studies, federal and state regulations, industry best practices, significant technology and engineering advancements in hydraulic fracturing that allow for safe and responsible energy development with a smaller environmental footprint and necessary protections for communities.
It has worked for the nation and it can work for the Delaware River Basin.