Last spring, President Obama asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu to assemble an advisory board to review the practice of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking,” which is used to extract natural gas buried deep underground. Rather than critically evaluate the dangers of fracking, however, the panel sought to appease an angry public with scant suggestions about how to make extraction as safe as possible. Ruling as “unsafe” a practice that has caused more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination and sickened people across the country was never a possible outcome of the review. That’s no surprise, considering that six of the advisory group’s seven members are on the oil and gas industry’s payroll. –ARK


After mounting concern about the public health and environmental risks of the controversial shale gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), last May Obama charged Energy Secretary Steven Chu with the task of setting up an advisory board to look into the practice. Thanks to Dick Cheney and something known as the “Halliburton loophole,” fracking is exempt from major environmental laws that protect our water and our health even though fracking can pose serious risks. The process involves injecting water, sand and a toxic cocktail of chemicals deep underground at high pressure to break up rock formations and capture natural gas that may be released.

… So, some oversight from the Obama administration seemed like welcome news. Except the group, known as the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Natural Gas Subcommittee, was a sham from the start. According to the Department of Energy, this special subcommittee’s task was to “identify, within 90 days, any immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of fracking and to develop, within six months, consensus recommended advice to the agencies on practices for shale extraction to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.”

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