Groundbreaking Report Reveals High-Scale Damage From Fracking

Search form

Groundbreaking Report Reveals High-Scale Damage From Fracking

Groundbreaking Report Reveals High-Scale Damage From Fracking
Mon, 10/7/2013 - by Environment America
This article originally appeared on Environment America

As federal policy makers decide on rules for fracking on public lands, a new report calculates the toll of this dirty drilling on our environment, including 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated by fracking in 2012. The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, "Fracking by the Numbers," is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date.

“The numbers don't lie — fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If this dirty drilling continues unchecked, these numbers will only get worse,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America.

“At health clinics, we’re seeing nearby residents experiencing nausea, headaches and other symptoms linked to fracking pollution,” said David Brown, a toxicologist who has reviewed health data from Pennsylvania. “With billions of gallons of toxic waste coming each year, we’re just seeing the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of health risks.”

The “Fracking by the Numbers” report measured key indicators of fracking threats across the country, including:

• 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated in 2012

• 450,000 tons of air pollution produced in one year

• 250 billion gallons of fresh water used since 2005

• 360,000 acres of land degraded since 2005

• 100 million metric tons of global warming pollution since 2005

Fracking also inflicts other damage not quantified in the report — ranging from contamination of residential wells to ruined roads to earthquakes at disposal sites. Reviewing the totality of this fracking damage, the report’s authors conclude:

Given the scale and severity of fracking’s myriad impacts, constructing a regulatory regime sufficient to protect the environment and public health from dirty drilling — much less enforcing such safeguards at more than 80,000 wells, plus processing and waste disposal sites across the country — seems implausible. In states where fracking is already underway, an immediate moratorium is in order. In all other states, banning fracking is the prudent and necessary course to protect the environment and public health.

At the federal level, the report’s data on land destroyed by fracking operations comes as the Obama administration considers a rule for fracking on public lands, and as the oil and gas industry is seeking to expand fracking to several places which help provide drinking water for millions of Americans — including the White River National Forest in Colorado and the Delaware River basin, which provides drinking water for more than 15 million Americans.

Along with the new numbers in today’s report, Environment America’s John Rumpler added one more: the more than 1 million public comments submitted this summer to the Obama administration rejecting its proposed rule for fracking on public lands as far too weak. Environment America is urging President Obama to follow the recommendation of his administration’s advisory panel on fracking to keep sensitive areas as off-limits to fracking.

“We need decisive action from Washington to protect our communities,” said John Fenton, a rancher from Pavillion, Wyoming who last week appealed to federal officials to re-open an investigation into contamination of drinking water there.

“The bottom line is this: The numbers on fracking add up to an environmental nightmare,” said Rumpler. “For our environment and for public health, we need to put a stop to fracking.”

Of particular concern are the billions of gallons of toxic waste created from fracking, which threaten the environment, public health and drinking water. Environment America is calling on federal officials to close the loophole that exempts this waste from our nation’s hazardous waste law. Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17) has introduced the CLEANER Act, H.R. 2825, to close that loophole.

“The data from today’s report shows that fracking is taking a dirty and destructive toll on our environment and health,” said Rumpler. “It’s time for our federal officials to step up; they can start by keeping fracking out of our forests and away from our parks, and closing the loophole exempting toxic fracking waste from our nation’s hazardous waste law.”

Originally published by Environment America

Article Tabs

The solution to climate change is a system change – grounded in human rights and ecological stewardship, where communities and workers are in charge of investment priorities ensuring the right to live and work with dignity.

The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has been matched by a slowdown in state tax revenue as the very rich shield their income from taxes.

Catholics from as far as Florida and Argentina are coming to New York "to indicate our prayerful support of God’s creation."

Nine out of 10 Latinos support government taking action to combat the threat of climate change – and 56 percent of Latinos see climate change as an extremely or very serious issue compared to 43 percent of all voters.

The history of resistance movements shows that when 3.5% of a population mobilizes on an issue, no government can withstand it – and organizers hope the climate justice movement can reach that level.

Britain’s political system is broken to the point where many people in Northern England actually want to join Scotland to escape austerity measures.

Posted 6 days 22 hours ago

Organizers haven't been shy about their underlying intentions: using the September march in Manhattan as a platform on which to build an international environmental social movement unlike any previously seen.

Posted 3 days 23 hours ago

Shifting toward community-based renewable power is a strong thread running through Scotland's Radical Independence Campaign, and a free Scotland could inspire other countries to relinquish their fossil fuel addiction.

Posted 2 days 18 hours ago

In addition to speaking with a common voice on climate justice and the policies needed to achieve it, today's "movement of movements" needs to reach beyond environmentalists.

Posted 6 days 22 hours ago

"We know it is fraud. They know it is fraud. We look to anyone brave enough to stand up and defend the rights of the people," says homeowner defender Sherry Hernandez.

Posted 3 days 23 hours ago

U.S. negotiators of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are attempting to block European attempts to tackle climate change, according to leaked documents.

Senior and Disability Groups Protest Wells Fargo Evictions, Shutter Accounts

A fiery crowd of seniors and their supporters rallied in front of a Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco calling for a halt to the evictions of struggling homeowners and a change in the bank's foreclosure practices.

Three Corporate Myths that Threaten the Nation's Wealth

It’s time to restore corporate power to the people by blasting through the myths about how corporations should be run, and for whom.

The California bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown this week allows government to disrupt communications under certain guidelines – but includes an “emergency” exception that requires no independent approval.

Speaking at a Fix the Debt conference on Monday, Honeywell International Inc. CEO David Cote was interrupted several times by Flip the Debt protesters over tax loopholes that allow companies to pay far less taxes than ordinary Americans.

Sign Up