Natural gas companies are contributing more money than ever to lobby politicians to support fracking. The current governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, has received almost $1 million from the natural gas industry. The gas companies’ voices are being heard, but what about the citizens whose well-being is jeopardized by fracking?
For years, citizens have been taking action to oppose fracking in their state, but for the first time ever, those same citizens are coming together in Washington, D.C., to make sure their collective voice is heard. To raise national awareness of anti-fracking movements across the nation, the first national anti-fracking rally, Stop the Frack Attack, is taking place on Saturday, July 28, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Exempted from federal law
There are 34 states where oil and gas wells are being tapped through hydraulic fracturing. An average of 2,000 wells are being drilled every month. Ninety percent of those wells are drilled using hydraulic fracturing. But despite the magnitude of drilling activity, fracking is exempted from every major environmental law including the Safe Water Drinking Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, due to the Energy Policy Act of 2005’s “Halliburton loophole,” so named because former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney was instrumental in its passage.
A clear case for regulation
- A study by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection found that at least six percent of newly drilled wells had leaked since 2011. These leaks let undisclosed amounts of chemicals into the aquifers, some of which remain unregistered by the oil companies.
- A congressional investigation found that fracking fluids at many drilling sites contain dangerous levels of heavy metals and carcinogens.
- In President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, he pledged to increase the use of natural gas found within shale rock formations, as well as “require all companies that drill for gas on public lands disclose the chemicals they use.” This would affect only a small portion of fracking activity because most fracking is being done on private land.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a study of fracking in Montana and found that fracking fluids contaminated drinking water.
- Perhaps even more troubling is that Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead pressured the EPA to delay publishing the study’s results because he feared they would harm his state’s economic interests, not to mention the gas companies’ profits.
In recent years, fracking has been pursued with Gold Rush-like fervor by oil and gas companies. While we oppose fracking, we must recognize that there are both communities vulnerable to this practice and some that have already been affected. Let’s stop the frack attack by banning new fracking, but let’s also protect those already at risk through closing the federal regulatory loopholes on fracking.
During the 3- day Stop the Frack Attack event, more than 130 local and national organizations, including Public Citizen, will call on Congress to take action to protect community rights, public health, drinking water, and the global climate from the impacts of fracking. We will also demand the closure of legal loopholes that allow the oil and gas industry to ignore parts of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and other bedrock environmental laws while fracking.
The anti-fracking movement is starting to grow, with recent celebrity endorsements from Mark Ruffalo, Lady Gaga and more than a hundred others, including Yoko Ono, who wrote the song “Don’t Frack My Mother.” To effectively protect the well-being of Americans, we need even more support, especially when proponents of fracking are hosting their own rallies.
Join the thousands already going to Stop the Frack Attack and come out to support clean water! Without your voice, local water supplies across the nation will continue to be contaminated.
Thaddeus Baringer – Intern at Public Citizen’s Energy Program