This letter to the editor appeared in the September 30 Billings Gazette:
Energy Corporation of America, the company that wants to bring “a little bit of the Bakken” to our community, has a troubling safety record. In Pennsylvania, ECA has had 66 state inspections resulting in 90 separate violations, 55 enforcement actions and fines of more than $80,000. In West Virginia, there are 70 more violations.
These violations include letting fracking wastewater flow into a trout stream, faulty cement casings on a well bore and failure to cap abandoned wells — all of which allow toxic chemicals to seep into the air and ground, resulting in water contamination.
ECA’s fracking activities (and all companies involved with fracking) are exempt from the clean water drinking act. If clean water is valued by society and by Congress, why are companies who utilize chemicals in the very core of their activities exempt? This is like exempting commercial airlines from FAA regulations. Chemicals in a bottle of shampoo must be clearly disclosed, but ECA need not disclose the chemicals used in fracking, the chemicals that could enter our aquifer.
Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.” ECA’s track record does not warrant trust. Montanans must be able to “verify” in order to protect our land, our water and our health. It is time for county, state and federal officials to make sure that any and all oil drilling is conducted on terms that are safe for us, not just convenient for a company that is only focused on profit. Once groundwater is contaminated, there is no turning back.
We have written often about ECA’s record as a serial polluter in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. ECA has said in a public meeting in Red Lodge that their record is a result of a “misunderstanding with regard to the regulations.” These “misunderstandings include multiple instances of torn pit liners, faulty casings, dumping pollutants into surface waters, and other violations that we cannot afford along the Beartooth Front.
If you haven’t read the actual report from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, you should. Click below to view the report.