Fracking By The Numbers — The Damage To Our Water, Land, & Climate From A Decade Of Dirty Drilling
Everything about this reminds me of Love Canal. Instead of one group led by Lois Gibbs trying to bring cancer-causing damage (of Love Canal) to light (at that time, Gibbs was a homemaker who big business tried to focus on as irrational). Now there are many of us who, likewise, do not want overt carcinogens in our water. The denial, the misinformation, and the health hazards are reminiscent of that story. Now, though, this issue is nationwide — causing deprivation of pure water and clean air.
How to Tackle Fracking in Your Community
“Fracking enjoys loopholes from a number of our bedrock environmental laws,” Raichel notes. For example, oil and gas waste is not considered hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This can make it difficult for concerned citizens to push the needle on a federal level, but it’s still important to call your elected representatives and urge them to close these loopholes. “Although sweeping change might be slow in coming, staying vocal keeps the pressure on elected officials and industry,” Raichel says. “As we’ve seen before, if there is enough of a groundswell, it will make a difference.”
Ingraffea, of Cornell, said sending the water, sand and chemicals down the well puts an enormous amount of pressure on the casing, which could cause it to crack or separate from the steel surrounding it. Many wells are often fracked up to dozens of times, he added, and the repeated increase in pressure could cause failures as well. According to one 2014 paper published in Marine and Petroleum Geology, an estimated 6.3 percent of all Pennsylvania wells drilled between 2005 and 2013 suffered either a “well integrity failure” — meaning failures of barriers including casing, tubing and cement, and actual leakage of gas or fluids into surrounding soil and water — or a “well barrier failure” — meaning failure of one or more barriers with no information indicating actual leakage. The DOI points out that about 90 percent of all new wells are fracked.
Fracking Operations Are Using More and More Water
Although fracking has tapered off in the U.S. since its peak in the early 2010s, companies have begun drilling with new intensity, using tactics that produce more oil, but at a price; Kondash has identified a correlation between increased production in lateral-drilled wells and decreased water-use efficiency. Most wells are drilled straight down, but fracking longer, horizontal wells allows producers to hit new targets—provided there's more water to reach them.
Dangers of Fracking (Here’s What It’s Doing to Your Body)
When we talk about health, it’s impossible to ignore the impacts certain types of energy have on our breathing, wellness and even cancer risk. And as our country increasingly looks to ways to fuel the modern lifestyle, it’s important to note the potential health side effects of these tactics. Here, we focus on the dangers of fracking, particularly as it relates to human health. (Fracking is just one energy source contributing to the negative health effects of climate change.) And that damage can occur not only when a person is exposed to fracking pollution in the soil, water or air, but even while a child is still forming in an exposed mother’s womb.
Despite these concerns, the EPA stopped investigating and told residents the water was safe to drink, leading to concern from environmentalists. “You would really expect the federal government to follow up on this,” Kate Sindig, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s fracking defense project. The EPA abandoned its investigation “without a satisfactory explanation to the people in the communities,” she told the Washington Post.
The Costs of Fracking
Fracking can leave lasting negative economic impacts Fracking can
undercut the long-term economic prospects of areas where it takes place.
A 2008 study found that Western counties that have relied on fossil
fuel extraction are doing worse economically compared with peer
communities and are less well-prepared for growth in the future.
The extraction process, known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at extremely high pressures to puncture the buried rock that harbors the gas. When some of that liquid returns to the surface in the form of waste, it has been found to contain "large quantities" of groundwater, in addition to "salt, drilling chemicals, heavy metals and naturally occurring low-level radiation," according to the AP report.
EPA Concludes Fracking a Threat to U.S. Water Supplies
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its latest and most thorough report on fracking’s threat to drinking water, and its findings support ProPublica’s reporting. The EPA report found evidence that fracking has contributed to drinking water contamination — “cases of impact” — in all stages of the process: water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing; spills during the management of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals; injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources; discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water resources; and disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits, resulting in contamination of groundwater resources.