Stop Fracking Our Future

We all know of the extensive legacy of pollution that coal mining has left for Pennsylvania’s forests, rivers and streams. Now, fracking is raising the stakes and leaving another long-standing legacy of environmental degradation and destruction in its wake.

Fracking is contaminating drinking water, making nearby families sick with air pollution, and turning forest acres into industrial zones. Yet the oil and gas industry is pushing to expand this dirty drilling — even near critical drinking water supplies for millions of Americans.

Credit: Sam Malone

Broken laws and contaminated water

The industry is saying “trust us.” Yet our research has found that fracking companies are committing violations of our environmental laws with little consequence.

  • Between 2008 and 2016, fracking companies committed a combined total of 4,351 violations.
  • During that time, only 17 percent of fracking violations resulted in a fine—with a median fine of only $5,263.

This has to change.

Will state officials protect us from fracking?

Fracking is booming in Pennsylvania, with more than 7,500 active wells—and the consequences for our environment and our health have been dire. And the gas industry tells us to expect tens of thousands more wells to be drilled in coming years.

Will state officials keep allowing companies to threaten our water, our forests and our air with toxic drilling? Or will they enforce commonsense safeguards already in place to protect our health and environment?

Powerful lobbyists for the fracking industry are fighting to stop meaningful protections. But with your support, we can continue to produce hard-hitting research, educate the public about the threats, and win real results to keep our health and environment safe from fracking.

Fracking is threatening our environment and health

As fracking booms across the nation, it is creating a staggering array of threats to our environment and health:

Our drinking water

There are already more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination from fracking operations — from toxic wastewater, well blowouts, chemical spills and more. Moreover, fracking uses millions of gallons of water.

Yet the oil and gas industry wants to bring fracking to places like the Delaware River Basin, which provides drinking water for 15 million people, and Otero Mesa, which hosts the largest untapped aquifer in parched New Mexico.

Credit: B. Mark Schmerling

Our forests and parks

Our national parks and national forests are the core of America’s natural heritage. Yet federal officials are considering leases for fracking on the outskirts of Mesa Verde National Monument, along the migration corridor for Grand Teton’s pronghorn antelope, and right inside several of our national forests.

Along with air and water pollution, fracking would degrade these beautiful places with wellpads, waste pits, compressors, pipelines, noisy machinery and thousands of truck trips.

Credit: National Energy Technology Laboratory

Our health 

Families living on the frontlines of fracking have suffered nausea, headaches, rashes, dizziness and other illnesses. Some doctors are calling these reported incidents "the tip of the iceberg."

We must act now to stop the damage of dirty drilling

We’ve released reports exposing the thousands of environmental violations committed by drilling companies, and demonstrating how gas wells could threaten our state parks and forests, our health, and our most vulnerable residents like the young and old.

In 2015, our public education campaigns helped convince Gov. Tom Wolf to reinstate a moratorium against fracking in our state parks. But we need to do more.

We believe the health of our children is more valuable than the dollars saved when a fracking company dumps its waste into our water, and we bet nearly all Pennsylvanians agree.

We need to demonstrate to our leaders that the public is really, truly concerned about this and is willing to take action in large numbers. If we do this, we are confident that Gov. Wolf will stand up to defend Pennsylvania from fracking’s threat to our health and environment.

Credit: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Issue updates

News Release | PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center

Pennsylvania Health Professionals Call for a Stop to Fracking

Philadelphia, PA – PennEnvironment delivered a letter from 85 doctors, nurses, and other health professionals in Pennsylvania to President Obama asserting that fracking should be stopped, given the overwhelming threats to public health. This was part of a nationwide effort by the organization’s federal arm, Environment America to deliver similar letters to decision-makers from more than 1,000 health professionals nationwide.

“Fracking is making people sick—period. Pennsylvania families are already suffering from dangerous air pollution and water contamination caused by dirty drilling,” said Lina Blount, Field Organizer for PennEnvironment. “Pennsylvania doctors and nurses are giving our elected officials a clear prescription to ensure the health of their constituents—stop issuing new permits for fracking until they can ensure these health impacts won’t happen again. The question is are they ready to take the medicine.”

The letters, which include signers from all 50 states, come as public awareness of the health and environmental impacts of fracking is on the rise. In one striking example, last month a peer-reviewed study published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found an increased rate of birth defects in babies born to mothers in Colorado who lived in close proximity to multiple oil and gas wells.

Fracking has spread rapidly across Pennsylvania in the last five years, and its effect on public health and the environment is increasingly taking its toll. There is a growing number of documented cases of individuals suffering acute and chronic health effects while living near fracking operations—including nausea, rashes, dizziness, headaches and nose bleeds. Physicians reviewing medical records in Pennsylvania have called these illnesses “the tip of the iceberg” of fracking impacts on health.

“As a nurse and geologist, I am increasingly concerned with the health and environmental impacts of fracking to Pennsylvania communities.  In following the principal of 'do no harm', it is crucial that our elected leaders hold industries accountable, putting health first,” said Nina Kaktins, RN of 25 years currently at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

PennEnvironment released the letter from health professionals today, as recent disasters, including a gas line rupture under the Raritan River and a well-pad explosion in Dillinger, add to the growing list of gas industry disasters. The industry has also committed more than 4,300 environmental violations in Pennsylvania to date.

Fracking operations have contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico. Leaks and spills of fracking fluid, which often contain known carcinogens (e.g. benzene) and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, have polluted rivers and streams. Fracking wastewater—often laced with heavy metals (e.g. lead, arsenic) and radioactive materials (e.g. radon, uranium)—has leached from hundreds of waste pits into groundwater.

Air contaminants released from fracking operations include volatile organic compounds (VOCs); some are carcinogenic, and some damage the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Public Health found that people living within a half-mile of gas fracking wells had a higher excess lifetime risk of developing cancer than people living farther away.

Despite these impacts, fracking is exempt from key provisions of the nation’s leading public health and environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the law that regulates hazardous waste.

In the letter delivered today, the health professionals call on President Obama and EPA Administrator McCarthy to close the loopholes that exempt fracking from key provisions of our nation’s bedrock environmental and public health laws. Health professionals from Pennsylvania and nationwide are also calling for immediate action for our elected officials to do everything in their power to halt more gas drilling where it’s already happening.

“Fracking is a public health emergency. To protect Pennsylvanians and communities across the country exposed to fracking, President Obama and EPA administrator McCarthy should close the hazardous waste loopholes that allow fracking to threaten our health in ways that no other industry can.” concluded Blount.

 

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PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Shalefield Stories: Residents on the Frontlines of Fracking Tell their story to the country

A newly released booklet, compiled by the citizen’s group Friends of the Harmed, is being released nationwide to make the case why fracking should not be expanded into other states.  The booklet, which PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is helping to present, recounts stories of families living with illness, water contamination and damage to their livelihood—even as the current administration advocates to carry-on, full steam ahead, with fracking.

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Report | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Shalefield Stories

Across the country, fracking is contaminating drinking water, making nearby families sick with air pollution, and turning forest acres into industrial zones.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

12,000 Pennsylvanians Demand: “Protect Loyalsock from fracking”

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