Fracking drilling is threatening the safe drinking water supply available to New York City and other areas in the Mid Atlantic region and recent decisions by the state government in New York will allow the process to expand in New York.
While seated at his desk and accompanied by some audience laughs at times, as well as chiding by his sidekick, Letterman goes on a slightly uninformed but clearly frustrated tear. He said the “greedy oil and gas companies of this country” want “to squeeze every little last ounce of oil and gas out of previously pumped wells by injecting the substrata of our planet with highly toxic, carcinogenic chemicals which seep into the aquifer and hence into the drinking water of Americans. The Delaware Water Gap has been ruined, the Hudson Valley has been ruined, most of Pennsylvania has been ruined; Virginia, West Virginia has been ruined; Colorado has been ruined; New Mexico has been ruined. They’re poisoning our drinking water.”
While his explanation of the actual process may be a little off-target, it is clear the host is frustrated by the process and also by ignorance of federal regulations or to state laws that aim to force companies wanting to conduct fracking to disclose some of the most dangerous elements used in the process.
Fracking uses hundreds of thousands of gallons of fresh water per day at an active well site. Each well is injected with this water, sand, a drill, and a mix of more than 600 chemicals until the mix reaches underground shale beds, breaks it apart, and releases natural gas deposits.
The process to allow fracking without much environmental or safety regulation in place was allowed by a 2005 federal energy bill that allowed it to go largely unchecked in the interest of developing domestic energy supplies and allowing the companies that conduct the process to do so and collect record profits. Worried about the impact of widespread drilling, some states have passed localized regulations to limit or ban fracking altogether. In New York, a statewide moratorium was recently lifted in favor of allowing fracking drilling and residents there believe they’re headed down the same tortured path that residents of Pennsylvania have seen already.
In Pennsylvania, thousands of fracking wells have been opened in recent years and some closest to that activity believe their safe drinking water has been contaminated by the process, believing methane gas and other contaminants have built up in their water wells, some to the point where the water is undrinkable. The process is also blamed for a strain on local resources and infrastructure and for widespread air pollution. Many in the areas where fracking is most often conducted describe a pink sky in the late evening and early nighttime hours, an effect caused by the pollution from fracking wells escaping into the air.
As he concludes his rant, Letterman takes shots at regulators and the oil and gas companies one more time and his overall frustration with the process.
He said, “And the EPA said you no longer have to comply with EPA standards for stuff you can put into the water. So the greedy oil and gas companies said ‘Great let’s go crazy’ and then some states are saying, ‘no, we have a transparency law’, so the oil and gas companies say, ‘OK, we will tell you everything but 2 percent of what we put into the water’.