Fracking by numbers
This is an aerial photo of a fracking field in Wyoming today. Drill rigs, roads, pipelines. In his conference speech last week, the Prime Minister said:
“With its resources under the ground, let’s make Blackpool the centre of Europe for the shale gas industry.”
Fracking by the numbers, a new study from the Environment America Research & Policy Centre, says: “People who live close to fracking sites are exposed to a variety of air pollutants including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, xylene and toluene. These chemicals can cause a wide range of health problems—from eye irritation and headaches to asthma and cancer.”
Methane gases released from US fracking wells – a gas that is far more potent driver of global warming – are equal to over 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide let free to air, untaxed.
Despite the lack of publicy available information, the new stuudy assembles what is known from fracking already underway in 17 states, with more than 80,000 wells drilled or permitted since 2005:
This is a drilling rig in Pennsyvania:
This is Cuardilla’s rig in Balcombe, Sussex:
Halliburton, the American oil services company, has been identified as a new potential contractor in Britain’s oil and gas fracking industry, linked to sites in the Sussex countryside, including on land that is within the South Downs National Park.
Fracking by the numbers says:
- Constructing a regulatory regime sufficient to protect the environment and public health from dirty drilling seems implausible, “given the scale and severity of fracking’s myriad impacts”—much less enforcing such safeguards at more than 80,000 wells and processing and waste disposal sites across the country.
- An immediate moratorium in states where fracking is already underway.
- Given the drilling damage that state officials have allowed fracking to incur thus far, at a minimum, federal policymakers must step in and close the loopholes exempting fracking from key provisions of environmental laws.
- Federal officials should protect America’s natural heritage by keeping fracking away from national parks, national forests, and sources of drinking water.
- To ensure that the oil and gas industry—rather than taxpayers, communities or families—pays the costs of fracking damage, policymakers should require robust financial assurance from fracking operators at every existing well site.
- More complete data on fracking should be collected and made available to the public, enabling us to understand the full extent of the harm that fracking causes to the environment and health.