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Don't frack with California's water
Jun 23, 2011
By Rebecca Saltzman
High Pressure Hydraulic Fracturing (also known as fracking) is a dangerous method of drilling for oil and gas that is responsible for contaminating water across the country. The practice is spreading at an alarming rate, and California’s huge Monterey Shale formation is one of the top prizes for frackers.
Thanks to the work of Dick Cheney and his secretive, industry-friendly 2005 energy policy, fracking has been exempted from regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency. Companies can largely conceal the long list of chemicals they pump deep underground, through our water table.
A vital new state law would protect our water supplies, and set the strongest standards in the nation for fracking chemical disclosure. The bill, AB 591, has passed the Assembly, and is now in the State Senate, where the oil and gas industry’s numerous allies are working to stop it. We can’t let them.
A well is fracked by pumping hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of gallons of water and a cocktail of up to hundreds of tons of chemicals, thousands of feet underground at extremely high pressure, literally cracking the rock to release pockets of oil or gas.
While Cheney’s “Halliburton Loophole” has allowed frackers to keep the list of fracking chemicals a secret, scientific examination reveals that it can contain known endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, including benzene, xylene, toluene, and diesel fuel — and those are just the chemicals we know of.
That’s bad news, because these chemicals don’t just stay underground. Fracking fluids (along with oil and gas) can leak through well casings into our groundwater, poisoning water and literally causing it to light on fire. Above ground spills of fracking fluids are becoming increasingly common across the country. Rivers and lakes are being contaminated with the release of insufficiently treated wastewater recovered from fracking operations.
To properly regulate fracking, and protect our water in California, it’s essential that Californians and public officials understand what chemicals are being used by drilling companies.
AB 591 is a vital first step in our state, and will help encourage needed action at the federal level. Please urge your Senator to stand up to the oil and gas industry and pass AB 591 now.
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