In recent years, a new technique called hydrofracturing (or fracking, for short) has been used to drill for natural gas buried miles below the surface of the earth. Among the areas where fracking is expected to grow are Michigan and the mid Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, where drilling is now taking off; and Colorado and Texas, where drilling has been happening for several years. Clean Water Action is working to make sure that fracking does not ruin the air and water of communities in which it happens. We're fighting fracking on the ground and in the state Capitols in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey.
Gas wells that are fracked are very different from traditional natural gas wells. They are bigger, deeper, and present a host of environmental threats:
Because shale gas drilling was exempted by Congress from the Safe Drinking Water Act in the 1990’s, there is little federal regulation of fracking. That leaves the states in charge. But unfortunately, many of the states in which drilling is exploding aren’t able to make sure it’s done safely, with thousands of new permits issued each year and budget cuts reducing the number of staff to permit and inspect these wells.
Clean Water Action believes we need to repeal the exemption for shale gas drilling and adopt new federal rules to ensure that it does not pollute our air and water. We are also working in Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to promote moratoriums on new drilling until there are safeguards in place to protect our water and air. And we are fighting in Colorado and Texas to strengthen the rules that protect our water.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, when we rushed to mine coal or drill for oil, we often left devastated communities with huge environmental problems for future generations to deal with….problems that we are still trying to fix today. We need to make sure we don’t do the same thing now with fracking and shale gas drilling!
Photo courtesy of Mark Schmerling