- Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio lawmakers
- United States of America
Marcellus Shale, which harbors large amounts of natural gas, is found mostly in the states of Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio. Citizens of these states, and all across the country who may have friends or relatives in affected areas, please help combat the destruction of our safe drinking water, clean air and pristine land.
Leases to gas companies to drill for natural gas in Pennsylvania tripled in 2009. Leasing is a source of revenue for the state (for drilling in state forest areas) and also provides income for land owners who sign leases. The almighty dollar is usually the only thing people need to see to go ahead and sign a lease; however there are many potential and likely severe environmental impacts that come along with “Hydraulic Fracturing” (fracking) for natural gas in Marcellus Shale. A New York Times editorial says it best: “The safety of the nation’s water supply should not have to rely on luck or the public relations talents of the oil and gas industry”.
What exactly is fracking?
Hydraulic Fracturing was invented by Halliburton in the 1940’s. The method injects a mixture of sand, water, and chemicals (a large amount of them toxic) into deep underground rock formations to rupture them and release natural gas.
In 2005, a new Energy Bill was passed. That bill exempted gas companies and the Hydraulic Fracturing method from the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and the Superfund Law, among others. This is considered to be the “Halliburton loophole”, because the method of fracking was developed by Halliburton. Drilling activities now go on unregulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Problems related to fracking:
Toxic chemicals: about 250 of them are used in fracking fluids (which are injected into the ground along with millions of gallons of water). There is no definitive list, but they are known to include carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, corrosion inhibitors, gellants, glycol ethers, breaker aids, and petroleum distillates to name a few. According to The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), 16 of the known chemicals used have health effects in at least 10 categories.
Wastewater: the millions of gallons of water infused with toxic chemicals create hazardous wastewater. In West Virginia, the wastewater is allowed to be injected deep underground. In Pennsylvania, wastewater is trucked to wastewater treatment plants, and after being processed is dumped back into our waterways. Wastewater contains a large amount of salts, which is difficult to treat. This results in processed water that has a high level of total dissolved solids (TDS). High TDS water reacts with Chlorine when processed at drinking water plants, creating Trihalomethanes in our water, which is considered carcinogenic.
Methane Gas and water wells: the Pennsylvania DEP has linked drilling operations in Dimock, Pa to a well explosion there and Methane being in the drinking water in the area. Other instances of Methane in drinking water have occurred across the county, including an entire house exploding near Cleveland, Ohio and residents in Colorado who could light their tap water on fire.
Air pollution/smog: not only a product of the many diesel trucks used to transport materials in drilling operations, but vapor emissions escaping from a natural gas well have been caught videotape with an infrared camera in Texas (www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiU4ehXV-LI). These emissions are invisible to the naked eye, and contain a number of toxins.
Concrete well barriers: in most gas drilling operations, the well’s steel pipe is encased in layers of concrete to protect groundwater, and it’s extremely important in protecting water supplies. Pennsylvania currently has no regulations that require inspection or testing of concrete casings.
Fish kills: chemical spills and wastewater dumping in streams and creeks have already produced a few fish kills in Pennsylvania. In one case, Dunkard Creek (which is located along the Pennsylvania/West Virginia border in the western part of the state) had an entire ecosystem of 161 species of fish, mussels, salamanders, crayfish and aquatic insects wiped out suddenly (see article below*). Chemical analysis of creek water showed extremely high levels of TDS and chlorides in the water, which are properties of gas drilling wastewater.
Wastewater impoundments: between being used in drilling a well and moving to treatment plants, wastewater is stored in lined earthen impoundments. If seams of the liner material aren’t sealed properly, the water can seep into groundwater. People living near impoundments have also complained about bad smells emitted from the water pits.
We could continue to sacrifice the safety of our water supply and naively believe what the industry is telling us, that fracking is basically safe. After all, they do stand to make millions off the gas extracted from Marcellus Shale. But the most important question to ask is, how important will all that lease money be when we have no safe water to drink, to shower in, to cook with etc. What good will that money do if you drink contaminated water and develop cancer from it years from now? Money should not be more important than health and public welfare.
Please take the time to watch the videos below.
Videos by Josh Fox (http://www.gaslandthemovie.com):
To read more about the impacts of drilling visit:
Gas Drilling - What We Don't Know
We urge you to enact laws to prohibit drilling for natural gas using the hydraulic fracturing method.
We ask that you also mandate phasing out all drilling operations already underway within one year of enacting legislation.
During this time, please give the resources necessary to state environmental agencies to strictly overview the remaining drilling operations as they shut down.