Hinchey: Increase fracking oversight

A day after The New York Times unveiled a front-page exposé on regulatory issues concerning hydraulic fracturing wastewater, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, urged the federal Environmental Protection Agency to increase oversight on the natural gas industry.

The Sunday article analyzed over 30,000 pages of documents, finding that fracking wastewater contains naturally occurring radioactivity levels well above the acceptable standard for drinking water, and many treatment plants in Pennsylvania had accepted the water at a rate they were ill-equipped to treat.

"Unfortunately, as you know, EPA is limited in its abilities to regulate hydraulic fracturing due to a number of egregious exemptions the industry enjoys from our nation's most important environmental safeguards," Hinchey wrote Monday in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "However, I believe there are several specific actions EPA can and must take to protect the public health in light of these alarming new findings."

Hinchey, whose congressional district includes a portion of Tompkins County, asked the federal agency to take three steps: speed up the agency's recently undertaken study of hydrofracking, require continuous monitoring for radioactivity at sewage treatment plants accepting such wastewater and drinking water sources close to gas-drilling operations, and include natural gas development in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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