Fracking Boom Brings Environmental, Health Problems to Dozens of Cities
According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, the United States is soon expected to leapfrog Saudi Arabia as the leading global producer of crude oil. Unlike Saudi Arabia, which has expansive oil fields, much of the oil in the United States is buried deep under rock formations and requires a special process called hydraulic fracking (breaking up of the rock formation using highly pressurized pumps). This controversial drilling practice has only recently come into the mainstream but many cities and towns are already suffering from serious negative impacts to environment and health.
For one, the liquid used in fracking contains numerous chemicals that are injected into the earth and can contaminate water. Many drinking wells and livestock wells in rural areas are now to dangerous to get water from. Josh Fox’s documentary Gasland infamously showed a man able to light the water from his kitchen faucet on fire because of the high amount of flammable chemicals contaminating the town’s drinking water.
In Fort Worth, Texas, residents are reporting illnesses caused by vapors from the drilling. Don Young, a local resident, notes that “Some days the air is so bad you can’t see downtown.” Meanwhile, neighboring Dallas has voted to ban fracking in most of the city.
Because fracking destroys rock formations deep within the earth, scientists have found that areas where fracking has begun has seen spikes in earthquake activity. The Fort Worth Basin had never recorded a single earthquake prior to 2008. Between 2009 and 2010, the town was hit by more than 50 small earthquakes.
In Oklahoma, the situation is even more dire as the state has experienced thousands of earthquakes each year since fracking intensified. In 2013 alone, the state has recorded 2,600 earthquakes. Not all of these are small. Some regularly occurring earthquakes have registered at 4.5 to 5.6 (for comparison, the Haiti earthquake registered a 7.0) in magnitude.
All of these reports come as the fracking industry grows extremely rapidly around the country. In north Texas alone, the number of new gas and oil wells has exploded by 800 percent since 2000.
(Image courtesy of Adam Welz/CREDO Action)