|Federal environment officials have failed to adequately oversee hundreds of thousands of wells used to inject toxic oil and gas drilling waste deep underground, according to .
The report, released Monday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, is critical of the Environmental Protection Agency's inconsistent handling of safety inspections, poor record keeping, and failure to adjust its guidelines to adapt to new risks brought by the recent boom in domestic drilling, including the understanding that injection wells are causing earthquakes.
The EPA generally agreed with the GAO's findings and characterization of the challenges the agency is currently facing.
Concerns have mounted recently about potential water contamination from injections wells. California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review of more than 100 others, out of fears that fracking fluids and other toxic waste are reaching drinking water aquifers there. Earthquakes from Ohio to Oklahoma to Texas have also been blamed on injection wells governed by the EPA's program.
The GAO's findings echo those in a 2012 ProPublica investigation which found that the nation's injection wells were often poorly regulated and experienced high rates of failure, likely leading to pollution of underground water supplies. ProPublica's investigation found that the EPA did not know exactly how many wells existed in the United States or what volume of waste was being injected into them, and that it did not possess complete records required to be collected under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Oversight of injection wells is currently delegated by the EPA to a number of state agencies. Part of the problem, the GAO found, is that the EPA has not consistently inspected those state programs to ensure that state regulators comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and EPA guidelines. The EPA also has failed to incorporate requirements it has placed on some of its state programs into federal regulations, making it difficult for the agency to take legal action against violators.
The EPA oversees more than 700,000 injection wells of various types in the United States, including about 172,000 that pump waste or other materials from the oil and gas industry underground. These wastes, often euphemistically referred to as "saltwater," commonly contain a mixture of water, hazardous chemicals and radioactive minerals. This subset of wells, called Class 2 wells, were the focus of the GAO report. […]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—The Chronicles of Mitt: July 31, 2012:
|Hello, human diary. It is I again, Mitt Romney, your better.
Today I was in Poland. I complimented them by saying that I wished America could be more like them, except for the unions and big government parts. My staff apparently got into a small donnybrook with the press units, who did not understand that I had taken all three of this tour's planned reporter questions back in London and would therefore not be answering any others.
We chose Poland as our final nation for this tour because it is close to Russia, thus counting for at least double the foreign policy experience that nations at farther distances would provide. It is definitely an unnerving experience, however. All the people in this portion of Europe have strange names, and all the words here are too long. I believe Eastern Europe could increase their economic vitality by at least 20 percent if they had a culture of using shorter words for things.
The trip is mostly done with now. I am looking forward to being back at home, though I have not decided which one I will be visiting first. I have been missing my bus as well, and have asked the staff if there might be a possibility of further bus-related events in the future.
Every Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio."