Right now, communities across the country are already fighting the fracking industry for clean air and clean water. And the stakes have gotten even higher with the potential for more fracking — all so the natural gas industry can export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to other countries.
The natural gas industry is working every angle — drilling in local communities with abandon while pressuring federal, state, and local policy makers to change laws so they can drill even more. This has got to stop. President Obama needs to make sure there is a time out on LNG exports.
President Obama is only hearing one side of the story from the Department of Energy, and it favors the natural gas industry. DOE’s recent study on the economics of fracked gas exports completely ignores the public health, environmental, and climate costs of an export rush. The study also shows that the middle class loses if gas is exported — our wages fall and our utility bills rise, while the gas companies get rich.
Let’s remind President Obama of all the other costs: the cost of buying drinking water because your well is polluted with fracking chemicals, lost work days because your child is sick due to respiratory problems, and increasing utility bills to heat our homes while communities are left to pay the price for fracking.
Here at Home in Nevada —
Houston-based, Noble Energy, has amassed leases of 350,000 net acres in Elko County on both public and private lands, and is currently drilling exploratory wells around Tabor Flats, just west of Wells. Fracking has been proven to cause earth quakes and we all know that Wells is an area known to be sensitive to earthquake activity. The Nevada Wilderness Project has expressed some serious concerns about Noble Energy’s activities — “We believe that the environmental and social repercussions and possible geological implications … must be investigated in great detail before exploration through fracking can be permitted on public lands.”
Noble Energy intends to access to oil or gas otherwise trapped deep in the ground through “fracking” — in other words, by injecting a liquid solution of water, sand and chemicals (which have been found to contain some extremely toxic chemicals and carcinogens) into a well that at high pressure fractures the shale, allowing oil or gas to flow back through the hole. And … while they say they’re doing this well below any water tables, many folks across the nation where “fracking” has already begun are finding that those chemicals have percolated up into the water table and contaminated their wells and aquifers.
We don’t have all that much water to spare, and now companies like Noble Energy intend to consume vast amounts of water and potentially contaminate what remains for human and wild life consumption.
As if fracking could get any worse for arid Nevada, each fracked oil well consumes millions of gallons of water and turns it into toxic wastewater. But that isn’t stopping Noble Energy from planning a massive 350,000 acre, $130 million fracking project in Elko County.
The project requires approval from Governor Sandoval to move forward. He’ll be under tremendous pressure to green-light the disastrous project, so it’s urgent that Nevada residents speak out against the project now.
Tell Governor Sandoval: Don’t frack Nevada.
Fracking involves blasting millions of gallons of water, deadly toxic chemicals, and sand underground to break apart shale formations, releasing tiny bubbles of oil and gas. Much of the water remains underground forever while the rest, with its toxic chemicals and radioactive material, returns to the surface.
This wastewater can’t be disposed of in conventional water-treatment facilities, so it’s often dumped in massive open ponds that create dangerous air pollution or in deep injection wells that cause earthquakes.
Fracking will only exacerbate Nevada’s already dire water crisis, as it’s done in other Western states. In Colorado, for instance, fracking already consumes more water than Fort Collins, the state’s fourth-largest city, and the fracking industry routinely outbids farmers for water rights.
Wastewater is only one of the many threats that fracking poses to nearby residents. Fracking-related chemical spills and well casing failures contaminate drinking water, and fracking generates cancer-causing air pollution and smog. Plus, each fracked oil well requires hundreds of trips by diesel trucks, increasing traffic fatalities and respiratory illnesses in nearby communities.7
Shockingly, this dangerous practice remains virtually unregulated at the federal level, where Dick Cheney and Halliburton managed to pass sweeping loopholes exempting fracking from most major environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act.8 As a result, the burden of regulating fracking has fallen on states, which have, without exception, badly failed to protect their citizens.9
It’s important to act now to prevent fracking before it starts in Nevada, and before Nevadans find themselves facing similar public health crises as heavily fracked states like Colorado, Pennsylvania and Texas.
1. Bruce Finley, “Drilling spills reaching Colorado groundwater; state mulls test rules,” The Denver Post, December 9, 2012
2 Henry Brean, “Oil/gas search: Fracking comes to Nevada,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, January 16, 2013
3. “Study shows air emissions near fracking sites may pose health risk,” University of Colorado Denver Newsroom, March 19, 2012
4. Becky Hammer, “Fracking’s Aftermath: Wastewater Disposal Methods Threaten Our Health & Environment,” NRDC Switchboard, May 9, 2012
5. Mark Harden, “Fracking in Colorado uses a city’s worth of water, enviro report says,”Denver Business Journal, June 20, 2012
6. Jack Healy, “For Farms in the West, Oil Wells Are Thirsty Rivals,” New York Times, September 5, 2012
7. “Hydraulic Fracturing 101,” Earthworks
8. Lauren Pagel and Lisa Sumi, “Loopholes for Polluters,” Earthworks, May 16, 2011
9. Steve Horn, “Regulatory Non-Enforcement by Design: Earthworks Shows How the Game is Played,” DeSmogBlog, September 27, 2012