By GREG STOTELMYER
KENTUCKY NEWS CONNECTION
Bracing for a boom in deep-well fracking, state lawmakers revised Kentucky's regulations on oil and gas production in March.
Environmentalists and landowners will now get to express their views about the regulatory revisions in a trio of public meetings across the commonwealth, beginning tonight in Madisonville.
Many Kentuckians are concerned that requiring before-and-after water sampling on high-volume, hydraulic fracking is simply not enough.
Madison County resident Tim Hensley lives near Berea, where energy companies have been seeking leases to mineral rights for development of the Rogersville Shale, a deep shale formation prevalent beneath much of eastern Kentucky. Hensley says he wants deep-well fracking banned.
"My experience with the regulatory system is it is significantly lacking," he says. "Given what I have learned about fracking in the last year, I am amazed it's legal anywhere on the planet at the moment."
In addition to this evening's meeting in Madisonville, the Energy and Environment Cabinet will hold public meetings on oil and gas development in Somerset on July 23, and Hazard on July 30.
The Kentucky Oil and Gas Association says horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are "proven and safe methods of maximizing...production."
According to Hensley, deep-well fracking in other states has demonstrated the process is "environmentally disastrous."
"It is inevitable the ground water will be contaminated, and it is inevitable there will be other types of pollution," he says.
When several hundred residents attended an informational meeting on fracking in Berea earlier this year, concerns about air pollution, truck traffic and a maze of pipelines were among their concerns.
To date, the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas has issued two production permits on the Rogersville Shale – one in Lawrence County, and the other in Johnson. Both counties are located along the far eastern end of the state.