A frack well goes at it in Weld County, CO
It was heartening to read in the (Feb. 9) Denver Post about a powerful new organization that includes civil rights groups, breweries and environmental activists united in demanding a fracking moratorium in Colorado. The organization (Don't Frack Our Water) vows to fight hard against plans to lease out hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land for fracking in the South Platte River - which is a major source for Denver metro drinking water.
The activists, which also include the Colorado Interfaith Alliance, Colorado Jobs with Justice and the Colorado Progressive Coalition, fear contamination from spills and they are right to do so. (Already some leases plan for frack wells within a quarter mile of Denver's northeast limits) Not only that, but the continued drain on Colorado's dwindling water supplies - given the state is in a high desert area.
We already know fracking can deplete and contaminate local water stores by the very nature of the process: injecting millions of gallons of water and chemicals into underground formations. But why should the fracking industries care, since they're not the ones who'll have to cough up the money for chemotherapy and other treatments for the poor victims. Thanks to a trio of diligent Democrats: Henry Waxman of California, Diana DeGette of Colorado, and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, we now know the extent of the pollution of our precious watersheds thanks to the hydro-fracking industry. We know, for example, the oil and gas companies injected hundreds of millions of gallons of carcinogenic chemicals into wells in more than 13 states from 2005- 09. In one spill in Pennsylvania, site of the photo below
tens of thousands of gallons of contaminated drilling water leaked from a well cap and flowed downhill onto a farm property, extirpating a 50' swath of forest and killing a pond - leaving not one single bass or even insect in all of it. Even after the accident, the frack pump remained running.
In the words of Diana DeGette:
"It is deeply disturbing to discover the content and quantity of toxic chemicals, like benzene and lead, being injected into the ground without the knowledge of communities whose health would be affected."
According to the report, the product of an inquiry by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010-11, fourteen of the nation's most active hydraulic fracturing companies used 866 million gallons of chemical fracturing products, and more than 650 of the chemicals named in the report were known carcinogens, supposedly regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. (Which was rendered toothless for fracking by lobbyists) Among the most toxic of the chemicals used (11.4 million gallons in all) were: benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene.
As we know from Devra Davis' landmark book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer, the first two of these toxic chemicals have well known correlations to brain carcinomas and chordomas. The other two, to liver, breast and prostate cancers. Davis' book is critical in blowing away the smokescreen that organizations like the American Cancer Society (ACS) have used for decades, in blaming people's eating habits and foods for cancers rather than toxic chemicals in the environment.
The ruse is easy to understand since it follows capitulation to the fundamental attribution error (known from psychology) in assigning the burden of cause to victims, rather than a systemic, out of control toxic energy and chemical industry. This way, guess what? It makes it almost impossible to sue for any kind of monetary satisfaction or even to get a local or state moratorium!
None of this even touches on the extent to which the arid West's water supplies are being fracked right down, despite states like Colorado facing a water crisis. It is downright criminal in this case, to continue dissipating our most critical resource just for a low-grade energy. After all, you can live without oil shale energy (most of which is shipped overseas anyway) but can't survive without water.
Thus, the anti-fracking ally we need has arrived none too soon!