Fracking is dirty. From the very beginning of clearing a site for drilling, through extraction, transport and delivery of finished products, fracking poses significant risks to our air and water and to human health. People who live and work near fracking sites are at greater risk for respiratory and neurological diseases.
Oil and gas industry spokespeople routinely maintain that the risks of fracking can be minimized by best practices and appropriate state regulation. Not only is this false – fracking is harmful even when drillers follow all the rules – but drillers also regularly violate essential environmental and public health protections, magnifying the risk. A look at recent data from Pennsylvania, where key industry players pledged to clean up their acts, illustrates the frequency with which companies still break the rules.
In Pennsylvania, fracking companies violate rules and regulations meant to protect the environment and human health on virtually a daily basis. Between January 1, 2011, and August 31, 2014, the top 20 offending fracking companies committed an average of 1.5 violations per day.
Fracking operators in Pennsylvania have committed thousands of violations of oil and gas regulations since 2011. These violations are not “paperwork” violations, but lapses that pose serious risks to workers, the environment and public health, including:
Allowing toxic chemicals to flow off drilling sites and into local soil and water. In July 2012, for example, Chief Oil & Gas was cited by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) when the company allowed 4,700 gallons of hydrochloric acid to flow off of its drilling site in Leroy Township, Bradford County, and into nearby Towanda Creek, causing a fish kill.
Endangering drinking water through improper well construction. Well problems, including leaks, contaminated drinking water supplies in as many as 243 cases across Pennsylvania between December 2007 and August 2014 – 81 of them between 2011 and 2014. In one such case Carrizo (Marcellus) LLC was cited for failing to properly restore a water supply its fracking activities had contaminated.
Dumping industrial waste into local waterways. One operator, EQT Production, was cited twice in 2012 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for violations at a well in Duncan Township, Tioga County, that polluted a local stream.
Otherwise disposing of waste improperly. In one 2012 incident at an Exco Resources well in Bell Township, Clearfield County, the company was cited for contaminating underground drinking water supplies as a result of leaks from a well drilled for the specific purpose of injecting toxic waste underground.
American wind power already produced enough energy in 2013 to power 15 million homes. Continued, rapid development of wind energy would allow the renewable resource to supply 30 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030, providing more than enough carbon reductions to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.
As international leaders prepare for the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a new study shows America’s power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the air any other country’s entire economy except China. Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center pointed to the report as evidence for why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants is a critical step in the international fight against global warming.
Every summer, Marylanders flock to our waterways to seek relief from the summer heat, and enjoy our favorite aquatic activities. Whether we rent boats on the Pocomoke River, go swimming in Assateague, or go tubing near Gunpowder Falls, enjoying our rivers and streams is a big part of summer fun in Maryland. Environment Maryland created the Summer Fun Index to show just how important our waterways are to our most relaxing season!
Solar energy is on the rise. Over the course of the last decade, the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the United States has increased more than 120-fold, from 97 megawatts in 2003 to more than 12,000 megawatts at the end of 2013. In the first quarter of 2014, solar energy accounted for 74 percent of all the new electric generation capacity installed in the United States. The cost of solar energy is declining, and each year tens of thousands more Americans begin to reap the benefits of clean energy from the sun, including energy generated right on the rooftops of their homes or places of business.