"The analysis, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology and reported in Inside Climate News, identified volatile organic compounds like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, or BTEX, in more than two-thirds of the wells sampled."
I’m a big proponent of drinking tap water—but then again, I don’t live in Texas or Oklahoma or Pennsylvania, all states that allow fracking.
Fracking is the process of injecting millions of gallons of water plus various toxic chemicals underground and at high pressure to break apart or fracture rock that contains natural gas or oil. Citizens worry that this energy practice is polluting their groundwater and well water. The film Gas Land famously showed someone actually igniting the water coming out of their kitchen faucet because it was so contaminated with flammable chemicals used in nearby fracking operations.
Researchers at the University of Texas and other Texas institutions examined drinking water quality samples from 550 fracking sites around Dallas. Their conclusion? “Drinking water wells in Texas counties that are home to intensive hydraulic fracturing operations contain elevated levels of more than two dozen metals and chemicals, including carcinogens.” The analysis, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology and reported in Inside Climate News, identified volatile organic compounds like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, or BTEX, in more than two-thirds of the wells sampled. Benzene is a carcinogen; the other compounds can damage the nervous system. An industrial solvent called dichloromethane, or DCM, was found in 121 samples, or more than 20 percent of the wells, reported Inside Climate News.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been a bit wishy-washy on whether they believe fracking pollutes drinking water. In their most recent study, they note, “while hydraulic fracturing activities in the U.S. are carried out in a way that have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources, there are potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water.”
Care2 members have certainly been concerned about fracking pollution. In 2014, Care2 member Susan V. collected 65,000 signatures on this petition to force fracking companies to disclose what chemicals they were using. The non-profit Food and Water Watch is currently collecting signatures on this Care2 petition to prevent fracking in America’s public lands.
The “precautionary principle” argues in favor of taking action to prevent a problem before it occurs. With that guiding light in mind, here’s what you can do to protect your drinking water from oil and gas fracking.
1) Stay informed. Fracking is being proposed on the eastern seaboard from Maryland to Maine; across the Midwest; throughout the Great Plains; and in California. New York state has banned fracking within its borders; other states are either embracing it full-on or taking a wait-and-see attitude. Get in touch with local environmental organizations and national groups like Food and Water Watch to find out where fracking stands in your state.
2) Vote. Ultimately, it is your state’s governor and your elected officials who can nix or allow fracking to occur. Learn where politicians stand on fracking and vote accordingly.
3) Attend town hall meetings. Town hall, city, and county council meetings provide a terrific forum for sharing information and uniting citizens behind a common action strategy. Go to learn more about fracking and to share your own perspective on what you think is best for your community.
4) Write letters to the editor. Editorial letters educate other citizens. They also indicate to editorial writers what issues their readers think are important. Plus, elected officials read letters to get a sense of how the electorate feels about an issue.
5) Use energy wisely and shift to renewable energy. The fracking industry justifies its process by saying that we consumers need the energy fracking generates. While we certainly do need energy, we could scale it back significantly if we drove less, insulated our homes, turned off the lights in rooms we’re not using, and shifted to getting our energy from wind and the sun. Supporting legislation that promotes clean energy over natural gas and oil is also an important way to reduce our need for the oil and natural gas that fracking produce.
If you discover that your water has been polluted by fracking, you probably will need to buy bottled water. Since so much water for bottle is pulled from underground aquifers, make sure the bottled water you’re buying has been taken from a pure source.
Sign this Care2 petition to tell EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to enforce our nation’s environmental laws and prevent dirty energy companies from splitting apart our earth to squeeze out profits at the expense of public health.http://www.care2.com/greenliving/will-fracking-force-you-to-drink-bottled-water.html