Shale gas production has a list of economic and practical advantages. For this reason, the mining companies were able to quickly establish the production of shale gas throughout the US, offering monetary compensation to the residents of the regions where the production was carried out. At the same time, the process of extracting gas from the bowels of the earth is associated with environmental pollution. For example, in Dimock, Pennsylvania, after Cabot began producing shale gas, many residents faced the problem of air, light, and water pollution with harmful chemicals.
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The water in some local wells began to contain such a significant amount of gas that one well exploded from a spark produced by pumping equipment. It is noteworthy that after the Cabot company agreed with the residents on the extraction of shale gas, the government provided the company with benefits and advantages. In Pennsylvania, policymakers encouraged fracking by removing many regulatory constraints (Withgott and Laposata 160). In particular, fracking was exempted from seven major federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Safe Drinking Water, allowing industrial companies to avoid ecological reporting.
Companies no longer had to report the level of pollution they produced and the inventory of chemicals in local water, soil, and air. However, after local activists and the press organized a campaign to condemn the action, the EPA stepped in and conducted a series of water tests in the wells. Although violations were identified, the EPA stated that Cabot is addressing these issues. Another example was lifting a ban on shale gas production in Denton, Texas when the government ignored a public request to stop production within the city limits (Withgott and Laposata 168). Therefore, even though public and government regulation of environmental protection issues is the most effective method of combating industrial companies’ irresponsibility, the state does not always make decisions to protect public interests.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970 during Nixon’s presidency. Its primary purpose is conducting and evaluating research, monitoring environmental quality, setting and enforcing standards for pollution levels, and assisting the states in meeting the standards. EPA work also suggests enforcing governmental ecological laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, TSCA, RCRA, and others (“Laws and Regulations”). One of the challenges the EPA faced in 2015 while preparing the report on fracking hazards for drinking water was companies’ reluctance to share information about the pollution generated. As a result, the report contained only a small amount of data, which was not enough to impact companies.
If I had the opportunity to speak directly with the current leader of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, I would suggest that the EPA adhere to its research rather than rely on companies’ data. Besides, it seems that the EPA could also focus on drawing up alternative plans for the economic development of regions where industrial enterprises will be stopped due to high pollution levels. Then, since most EPA decisions are made by politically appointed administrators advised by EPA devoted scientists, I would suggest bringing up the issue of responsibility for decision making. It seems dangerous that the decisions of the most trusted organization, which is a part of the executive branch, depend on a particular president’s preferences and moods. Therefore, I would suggest giving more power to ordinary members of the EPA who have no personal, political, or economic interests and could make more responsible decisions.
“Laws and Regulations.” EPA, n.d. Web.
Withgott, Jay, and Matthew Laposata. Essential Environment: The Science behind the Stories. 6th ed., Pearson, 2019.
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