Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Big Fracking Mess in Colorado

Colorado floods and fracking: a bad combination -
The disastrous Colorado flooding, which has claimed lives and thousands of homes, has reignited the nationwide debate over the safety of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, the process of injecting water, sand and a variety of chemicals deep into the ground to free natural gas trapped in rock. The floods have damaged oil equipment and sparked fears that toxic fracking fluids may be seeping into the local water supply.

More than 1,800 oil and gas wells in Northwest Colorado have been turned off, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. The extent of the damage is not yet known, but pictures and videos from the floods that have shown up on anti-fracking sites and in local news outlets show flooded wells, overturned tanks and ruptured lines.

In a statement, environmentalist Gary Wockner, of Clean Water Action, said, “Fracking and operating oil and gas facilities in floodplains is extremely risky. Flood waters can topple facilities and spread oil, gas, and cancer-causing fracking chemicals across vast landscapes making contamination and clean-up efforts exponentially worse and more complicated.”

Robyn O'Brien, a Boulder resident and food activist, told CNN"The damage is not contained. The public is very concerned about its impact on water supplies, both for communities and for the massive amounts of farmland and livestock out here."

Fracking proponents insist the folks in Colorado have nothing to worry about. But we've heard that song before. Fracking is not a clean energy. The process utilizes harmful chemicals that can indeed leak into the water supply and air. 

But as Bloomberg recently reported, the fracking industry is buying people's silence. Drillers from Wyoming to Pennsylvania to Texas have agreed to cash settlements or property buyouts with folks who insist fracking ruined their water. In most of these cases, the homeowners must agree to keep quiet. 

The strategy keeps data from regulators, policymakers, the news media and health researchers, and makes it tougher to challenge the industry’s ridiculous claim that fracking has never tainted anyone’s water. Regulators in Pennsylvania alone have already reportedly linked gas and oil drilling with about 120 cases of water contamination from 2009 to 2012.

In California, of the dozen fracking bills that were introduced in the state's last legislative session, only two survived, three were rejected, and the rest never made it to a floor vote. For this we can thank the deep pockets of the oil industry. You know, the guys who make billions in profits and routinely obfuscate the environmental damage caused by their handiwork. 

The five largest oil concerns spent half a million dollars to defeat various fracking measures recently introduced in California.

While Big Oil is aggressively behind fracking, many independent energy experts say it is a volatile and dangerous way to tap an energy source. At the very least, much more research should be done before we give in to the desires of Exxon/Mobil and the others and just start drilling sideways into the earth beneath us using a cocktail of toxic chemicals.

But fracking has some powerful supporters. During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama enthusiastically endorsed fracking - perhaps because it's an increasingly popular way to generate revenue for struggling American towns, including many in key battleground states. 

"We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years, and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy,” Obama said on the campaign trail.

But while Obama insists fracking can be done safely, many disagree. “We’re disappointed in Obama's enthusiasm for (fracking),” Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters in Philadelphia, told Bloomberg last year. "Obama spoke about natural gas as if it’s better for the environment, which it’s not.”


  1. In most of these cases, the homeowners must agree to keep quiet.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Is there any further reading you would recommend on this?

    Industrial water supply

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