This year hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, made its debut in headlines across America. Even though fracking has occurred for decades, the expansion of the practice and the understanding of public health impacts have only recently come to light to the general public.
Fracking is the practice of extracting gas and oil from deep in the bowels of the earth by pumping in large volumes of pressurized water mixed with a concoction of toxic chemicals. The laundry list of chemicals that can be used is frightening:
Here's a video that shows how these toxic chemicals work their way into our environment, including our drinking water and air.
Reserves of oil and gas that were once thought to be too deep and difficult to be worth tapping into are now being drained through fracking. Even urban communities like Los Angeles and Long Beach are at risk.
While some praise fracking as a solution to satisfying our ever increasing appetite for fossil fuel and a way to wean our nation off of foreign energy, the serious health and environmental impacts are only beginning to be realized. And because of industry-friendly legal loopholes, we may never know how much exposure to toxic chemicals we are being subjected to since fracking companies are not required to disclose what chemicals they are using, nor where they are fracking.
Some communities around the nation are wising up to the problems of fracking as they trace the source of public health crises back to exposure to fracking chemicals that worked their way into water. Currently, a number of states are considering bans and restrictions, while others have already succeeded.
Sacramento lawmakers have a chance to make a smart choice for the health of all Californians by mandating the disclosure of basic information around fracking practices. Assembly Bill 591would specifically make companies disclose the chemicals they use, the amount of water they’re pumping, and where they are fracking.
New for the 2015 legislative session: The 42nd annual California Environmental Scorecard rates elected officials on 2015, another successful year for the environment in spite of heavy opposition from polluting industry.