Fracking Water: Action Needed to Protect U.S. Drinking Water Supplies
The dangerous practice of fracking (hydraulic fracturing), which combines volumes of toxic chemicals and fresh water to bore for natural gas, has spread to 21 states in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, as well as Colorado, Texas and California. A particularly intensive drilling area is the Marcellus Shale region, a 600-mile-long bedrock layer up to a mile below the Earth’s surface that includes parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Citizens in these and surrounding states are sounding alarms.
The PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is on the battle’s front lines and their efforts can serve as a blueprint and inspiration in trying to curtail fracking and protect the health and safety of people and the planet. The nonprofit has taken issue with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency draft study dated late last year that concluded fracking has no widespread impact on drinking water, demanding that the agency conduct further research. While Pennsylvania’s Department of the Environment tallied 271 cases of water contamination from fracking in 40 counties, the nonprofit Public Herald reports 2,309 overall fracking complaints for 17 of the counties, and concludes that water-related cases are repeatedly understated.
Recent research by Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences found, “Companies are fracking directly into shallow freshwater aquifers,” according to Professor of Earth System Science Robert Jackson. “In no [other] industry would you be allowed to inject chemicals into a source of drinking-quality water.”
PennEnvironment recently galvanized more than 1,000 state health experts’ demands to Governor Tom Wolf’s administration that include establishing a registry to report impacts from fracking and other natural gas activities; instituting special training for health professionals; removing exemptions for the fracking industry from environmental laws; and requiring that all fracking operations be at least one mile from schools and healthcare facilities.
“With every day of inaction, our elected leaders continue to subject their constituents to severe and widespread health impacts,” advises PennEnvironment fracking campaign organizer Allie DiTucci.
Maryland poses another looming battleground—it currently prohibits the practice and is drafting new fracking regulations as the gas industry knocks on its door. Meanwhile, communities around the country are voting to ban fracking from their districts.
Join local environmental and conservation organizations in protesting against fracking and lobbying local and state officials to regulate and ban it.
Primary sources: PennEnvironmentCenter.org, InsideClimate News