Stop Fracking: Education and Advocacy

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A fight is raging in the middle of Pennsylvania over a process called hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking.” Shale gas will comprise 45% of all natural “dry” gas used in the United States by 2035 (shown in Figure 1).[1] This estimates to trillions of dollars for gas companies.  But not only the gas companies benefit. These profits extend to private-owners. Business Insider has suggested that in 2010, $21 billion has been paid to landowners across the country. Specifically, a pay-out of $1.2 billion has been given to Pennsylvania land-owners in 2012.[2]

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However, environmental scientists have shown that one of the largest problems is the leakage of fracking products that contaminate watersheds and aquifers that people use for potable water.[3] [4] [5] Drinking contaminated drinking water with the inputs and outputs of fracking will cause significant health effects.

A large reason for aquifer contamination is that cement is the only barrier that prevents byproducts from reaching ground-soil. Similarly, storage of fracking wastewater isnot well-disposed or handled after fracking [6]. After years of weathering and neglect, these concrete structures can fall away and allow for free-water flow into the ground.

 

There are many organizations that have stake in proposing regulation and policy-briefs about fracking, including Green-Peace and Earth-Justice.[7] Earth-justice, among others have issued initiatives to prevent fracking in public and private lands.[8] We need to support these advocacy groups AND educate people in Pennsylvania about the deleterious effects of fracking. Similarly, Advocacy journalism and advocacy social media play significant roles in reaching out to policy-makers and gas-companies. These actions, will promote public outcry.

Enough public outcry can promote a systemic change in how fracking is managed and regulated. We must educate people, promote initiatives, and demonstrate why companies need to responsible for both cleaning up their waste-water and maintaining the integrity of abandoned fracking wells.

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2 Responses to “Stop Fracking: Education and Advocacy”

  1. kweeks8 Says:

    In addition to the stakeholders mentioned in this post, the Environmental Protection Agency also plays a significant role in protecting the public from hazardous fracking practices in the United States. However, it remains to be seen what kind of position the EPA will take towards the regulation of fracking under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, the newly appointed chief of the EPA.

    In 2014, Scott Pruitt sent a letter to the EPA that said that fracking is safe and it should not be regulated by the EPA. Whether this is indicative of Pruitt’s vision for EPA remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it is of great concern that Pruitt has publicly indicated that fracking is not a dangerous practice, given that he is heading the lead government agency responsible for regulating this industry.

    Since it is unclear what role the EPA will take in protecting the public from the negative consequences of fracking, the role of advocacy agencies and non-governmental organizations will be even more important in the coming years. I agree that these organizations must make a concerted effort to speak out about harmful fracking practices so that the American public can be adequately protected.

  2. lpc2972 Says:

    Thank you for sharing this important environmental health issue. Going along with what ‘kweeks8’ brought up about the work being done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most recently the EPA has released the final report on “Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources” (https://www.epa.gov/hfstudy).

    The EPA conducted independent research, engaged stakeholders through technical workshops and roundtables, and reviewed approximately 1,200 cited sources of data and information.

    From this study, the EPA found multiple scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances. The report identifies certain conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe.

    Nonetheless, this is one of very few studies that was conducted due to the difficulty in accessing important data, and there is a significant lack of funding towards this type of research. The EPA states that “generally, comprehensive information on the location of activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle is lacking, either because it is not collected, not publicly available, or PROHIBITIVELY DIFFICULT to aggregate. In places where we know activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle have occurred or are occurring, DATA WERE SCARCE that could be used to characterize the presence, migration, or transformation of hydraulic fracturing-related chemicals in the environment before, during, and after hydraulic fracturing.”

    I also agree that organizations, stakeholders, and policy makers should actively work towards getting support to assess the fracking process by Shale gas to make sure their work is being monitored on a public health level.

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