Permit Denied To Use Amite River Water For Fracking

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana officials have denied a permit that would have allowed an oil company to use water from a scenic river to perform hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for a well in East Feliciana Parish.

         However, it was a limited, technical victory for the environmentalists who opposed the permit. The company involved, Texas-based Comstock Resources Inc., was allowed to use water from nearby ponds for its well, instead.

         The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which administers the Scenic Rivers Program, had previously approved five permits allowing companies to withdraw water from protected bayous and rivers across the state for use in fracking.

         With the new precedent, The Advocate’s Steve Hardy reports environmentalists and industrialists are waiting to see how the state will respond to applications for future fracking wells.

         They may not know for a while, though, because some oil and gas companies have been pulling out of the region as prices drop.

         Fracking is a contentious drilling technique in which water and chemicals are injected deep into the earth to break up rocks and reach oil and gas. It is part of an industry that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs and generates billions in revenue each year in the state, according to a 2014 study commissioned by the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.

         The study claims Louisiana's extracting, refining and pipeline industries directly and indirectly generated $20.5 billion in household earnings and supported 287,000 jobs in the state in 2011. In fiscal year 2013, the industries directly accounted for $1.5 billion in state taxes and fees, the report asserts.

         But various environmental groups have warned about potential threats of chemical contamination and damage to the ecosystem caused by removing water from rivers and streams used in the fracking process.

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