June 25, 2020 / 6:36 PM / 12 days ago

Pennsylvania grand jury finds government failures during fracking boom

(Reuters) - Pennsylvania government agencies systematically failed to oversee the oil and gas fracking industry and protect residents from the inherent risks of industry operations, according to the findings of a state grand jury.

“There remains a profound gap between our constitutional mandate for clean air and pure water, and the realities facing Pennsylvanians who live in the shadow of fracking giants and their investors,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said on Thursday.

The announcement followed previous criminal findings by the grand jury against two fracking companies - Range Resources Corp and Cabot Oil & Gas — for repeated violations of Pennsylvania environmental laws.

Range has since pleaded no contest to environmental crimes committed in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

The attorney general’s office charged Cabot with environmental crimes last week. [nNRAc2sk2g]

Highlighting failures of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health, the grand jury report made eight recommendations to protect against the risk posed by fracking operations.

The recommendations include expanding no-drill zones from 500 feet (152 meters) to 2,500 feet (762 meters) and requires fracking companies to publicly disclose all chemicals used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing before they are used onsite.

Fracking — and horizontal drilling techniques — have produced massive amounts of natural gas and oil in the United States over the past decade or so.

Reporting by Shreyansi Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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