In the New York Times of March 20, I read that President Obama is going to begin pushing for federal regulations on fracking on federal lands. It is past time for this to take place. And it isn’t enough.
The fracking process requires 400 tanker trucks to haul water and supplies; approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracking; up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including carcinogens and toxins such as lead, uranium, mercury, ethylene glycol, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde. According to one source there are 500,000 active gas wells in the United States using 8 million gallons of water per fracking and the wells can be fracked 18 times. That’s 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals!
Americans have saved billions of dollars in energy costs, according to one study but at what cost? Silica sand is used and it is known to cause debilitating and deadly disease such as silicosis and lung cancer. Residents’ most common complaints are such as respiratory infections, headaches, neurological impairment, nausea and skin rashes. More rarely, they have reported miscarriages and tumors from benzene poisoning. The industry squirms, trying to avoid any appearance of guilt but there are just too many instances for it to be merely coincidental. I view natural gas as the U.S. version of blood diamonds. The president hasn’t gone far enough. Regulation needs to be extended to drilling on private land.