Natural Gas Fracking: The Fossil Fuel Industry’s New Low
Care2 Earth Month: Back to Basics
This year, Care2 decided to expand Earth Day into Earth Month, since there is so much to explore when it comes to the environment. Every day in April, we’ll post about some of the most important topics for the environment, exploring and explaining the basics. It’s a great tool to help you get started with helping the environment — or help explain it to others. See the whole series here.
Just when we thought the fossil fuel industry had explored every last option for exploiting and polluting the planet, they surprised us with a newer, more devious practice. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a controversial method for extracting natural gas from hard to reach fissures beneath the Earth’s surface, has emerged as the newest and most sinister threat to our health and environment.
Many have lauded the cheap price of natural gas as the answer to America’s ongoing energy problems, but few realize the price that’s paid in order to extract this energy at such a rapid pace. During the fracking process, gas companies inject fluid into the ground as a means of forcing the gas out at great speed. Fracking fluid millions of gallons of water, often from water-stressed areas, that end up in waste-water pools contaminated with oil, drilling mud, and chemicals, including benzene and other carcinogens.
In 2010, two oil field companies recently acknowledged that they are using diesel fuel in their injection fluids, prompting a U.S. House of Representatives investigation into the matter. However, there are dozens of gas companies who refuse to reveal the chemicals in their fracking fluids, saying these toxic cocktails are “proprietary information.”
That might be true if there was no chance a human being’s health would be jeopardized by this virtual inoculation practice. Sadly, this is far from true.
As Care2′s Jennifer Mueller reported, the natural gas industry uses hydraulic fracturing injection wells, also known as “fracking,” in 31 U.S. states, but only ten of these state governments have rules in place to regulate the process. As a result, millions of gallons of ground water risk contamination from fracking, yet the industry is forced to take no precautions to protect human or environmental health.
In addition to creating flammable drinking water, shale fracking operations have been linked to increased smog, asthma and pulmonary diseases, and dangerous levels of arsenic, methane, benzene and toluene.
Perhaps even more frightening than the air, water, and soil contamination, is the fact that natural gas fracking is literally causing our planet to break apart at the seams. Just recently a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research team has linked oil and natural gas drilling operations to a series of recent earthquakes from Alabama to the Northern Rockies.
The natural gas industry and its high-power lobbyists are doing their best to convince the public that hydraulic fracturing is safe and necessary. There’s even a pro-fracking documentary gathering funding on Kickstarter. But neither claim could be further from the truth. The facts demonstrate that fracking is an unsafe and unregulated process that puts people in direct danger of serious health problems.
Learn more about how fracking could be affecting you and the ones you love by reading all of Care2′s coverage on the topic. You can also take action to ban hydraulic fracturing in your community by signing the petition below.
Image via ProgressOhio/Flickr