All but one member of a government advisory panel weighing the safety of one of the most contentious forms of energy development, known as fracking, have financial ties to the natural gas industry, scientists and some environmental groups are asserting. The scientists called for the ouster of its chairman, former CIA director John Deutch, who sits on the boards of two energy-related companies.
The group, which reports to Energy Secretary Seven Chu, is concluding that development of shale gas can be done safely provided that companies fully disclose the chemicals used in fracturing liquids, and that they face monitoring of their activities and rigorous standards for emissions of airborne contaminants.
While the Energy Department doesn't regulate natural gas production, the Environmental Protection Agency is still months from reaching conclusions in its own study, and the panel is leaving largely unaddressed the most sensitive issue of toxic chemicals that may make their way into drinking water supplies, opponents of fracking fear the Energy panel's recommendation can give a boost to the industry.
The committee, formed in May, was tasked to review fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, in which gas companies pump sand, water and chemicals into wells drilled into the ground to break up the earth below in order to release and then capture natural gas. Critics say fracking could be tainting groundwater, killing wildlife and, as iWatchNews has reported , giving off methane gas that contributes to global warming.