Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a natural gas drilling technique which involves blasting a mix of water, chemicals, and sand into shale rock formations to shake loose natural gas deposits. While some gas producers tout the benefits of this practice as enabling the United States to tap into its natural resources and improve the economy with an influx of jobs and money, they never discuss the dangers and catastrophic consequences of this toxic process that decimates human, wildlife, and aquatic environments and health.
Earlier today, we wrote that Chesapeake Energy, a major natural gas driller in Pennsylvaniaâ€™s Marcellus shale, received two historic fines totaling over $1 million: For contaminating private water wells in Bradford County and by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a tank fire that occurred in February at a natural gas well site in Washington County. The state DEP is also expected to assess penalties to Chesapeake for a well blowout in Bradford County last month. The blowout spewed thousands of gallons of chemical-laced fracking fluid, breaching its containment, and spilling onto nearby farmland and a Towanda Creek tributary. The creek flows into the Susquehanna River.
Environmental group American Rivers, just issued its yearly top 10 â€œmost endangeredâ€ rivers in the United States, said USA Today. The Susquehanna River tops the list, due mostly to its attraction to frackers. The Susquehanna flows from New York, through Pennsylvania, and through Maryland, emptying into the Chesapeake Bay and providing drinking water for more than six million people in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.
“Fracking poses one of the greatest risks our nation’s rivers have faced in decades,” says Andrew Fahlund, senior vice president of conservation at American Rivers, quoted USA Today. “We are taking a major gamble on the clean drinking water for millions of Americans,” Fahlund added. Fracking is also the reason Wyomingâ€™s Hoback River is designated the seventh most endangered river, noted USA Today.
U.S. rivers and streamsâ€”some 3.5 million miles worthâ€”provide most of the nationâ€™s drinking water, according to Amy Kober, a spokeswoman for American Rivers. “Nearly everyone in the USA lives within a mile of a river,” said Kober, quoted USA Today.
“The efforts of American Rivers to call attention to endangered rivers raises critical public awareness of the need to protect these waters and of the threats they face from pollution and development,â€ said Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner, quoted USA Today.
Earlier this month, we reported that a new study conducted by Duke University researchers is the first to link hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, with methane contamination of drinking water wells. According to a report from ProPublica, in some cases, the methane contamination documented by the study was so severe, it caused tap water to burst into flames. According to ProPublica, the average concentration of the methane detected in the water wells near drilling sites fell within a range that the U.S Department of Interior says is dangerous and requires urgent â€œhazard mitigation.â€