Sunday, July 01, 2012

Underground Injection Wells: for better or worse ... by gimleteye

ProPublica has a very good report on the regulatory process that has allowed fracking for natural gas to proliferate, lowering energy prices and contaminating aquifers around the nation. The report mentions the Miami connection: "In South Florida, 20 of the nation's most stringently regulated disposal wells failed in the early 1990s, releasing partly treated sewage into aquifers that may one day be needed to supply Miami's drinking water."

Miami-Dade County -- and Sierra Club -- played an important role in defining federal regulations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in the 1990's and early 2000's, when the Club (that I represented, as an activist leader) sued to prevent the EPA from changing its rule to allow the migration of injected fluids from one underground layer to another.

As ProPublica notes, that leakage was happening in the case of the wells where most of our (now treated to advance wastewater requirements) sewage disappears, right by Biscayne National Park and under the massive landfill in South Dade. This case was my first exposure to the 11th Circuit, that ruled on the Sierra Club appeal. Their outright disdain for the environmental plaintiffs was shocking to me. This dismal affair took several years to unwind, and among the more distasteful memories is that we simply couldn't raise enough money for adequate lawyers and engineers to make our case. We were buried in a blizzard of paper.

ProPublica gets the facts straight but ought to have examined the importance of the Sierra Club lawsuit, which the Club lost, that subsequently permitted the natural gas industry to use fracking as a way to free profits from deep underground, all over the country.

This issue was also one of the unreported skirmishes between environmentalists and Jeb! Bush, who ordered his lieutenants to throttle any public release of information and data about the massive extent of underground injection wells in the state of Florida. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered about the folly of injecting underground where we pump our drinking water from.Same goes for the rock mining pits. In discussions with otherwise well educated resident's, hardly anybody senses a future problem with injecting, go figure.
The pat answer I usually get is: If Gubment deems it save, it must be. There is a real lack of basic scientific education among the well educated, never mind the masses working just to pay rent.
I think the 2008 financial fiasco is a clear guide to where we are heading in general in all aspects of planned exploitation. To bad polluted water wont be corrected by simply erasing zeros in a ledger sheet.