For example, we’ve heard the sloganeering: “Clean & Safe, Natural Gas is energy’s future”. But with more and more information coming to light, it seems as if natural gas extraction and production through hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) might not be so clean and safe.
This false clean and safe aura has allowed most of the natural gas extraction and production to be exempt from widely accepted environmental regulations, including the Clean Air Act. Since fracking creates pollution, this exemption poses serious health risks to those living near fracking operations.
We’ve done the pollution tests, heard the horror stories from neighbors and seen the health effects, and now it finally looks like our legislators are taking action to protect families from an industry that is not so clean and safe.
Just last week, US Representatives, Jared Polis (D-CO) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced the FRAC Act, legislation to close the fracking loopholes the Safe Drinking Water Act. Then Polis joined forces with Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) to close the same loopholes within the Clean Air Act by re-introduce the FRAC Act with additional legislation, the BREATHE Act.
The current loopholes regulate gas wells individually and the wells are categorized as minor sources of pollution. However, many fenceline communities argue that’s inaccurate since wells are often clustered together. Officials need to take into account the cumulative emissions of the well cluster, especially when talking about air & water pollution.
The problem here is that human health should not be a partisan issue. It should not be marginalized for bigger industrial profits.
The fracking process can be dangerous. It needs to be regulated accordingly and responsibly. Even Benjamin Grumbles, a former Bush EPA Official, stated that fracking exemptions went too far. Later in the interview with Propublica, Grumbles agrees that people have the ‘right to know’ what chemicals are being dumped into their communities, yet Halliburton still refuses to disclose the chemicals used in the process.
And let’s not forget, the winner of the Airhugger’s Fracky Award, Energy in Depth. Not only did they attempt to discredit the documentary Gasland but they’ve already started discrediting the FRAC & BREATHE Act. It appears they’ve already spent millions on PR and in-depth research to quote the US Senate Congressional Record from 1991, stating that Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) is not a routine emission. Obviously it wasn’t in 1991!
So, thank you, Reps. Polis, DeGette, Hinchey and Holt. Thank you for drawing attention to the fact that the fracking industry is exempt from two reputable safeguard policies and is highly unregulated by the EPA. Thank you for standing up to the oil & gas industries in favor of protecting human health and please continue to stand strong for all of those fenceline communities living with associated health effects.