Fracking and Global Warming: Currently, most people assume that fracking is better than coal in terms of global warming. However, new evidence suggests that methane leaks from fracking may cause more damage to the environment than CO2, because methane is 21x more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. In fact, a new governmental panel has recommended study of the true greenhouse footprint of fracking operations.
Fracking and Pollution: But even more concerning is that since oil and gas companies are currently exempt from the Clean Water Act, trade secrets are being used as a way to hide the contents of fracking fluids. There is suspicion that various chemical wastes can be productized as fracking fluid and disposed of cheaply. These suspicions have increased, since a preliminary report by the EPA found 1027 chemical substances in fracking fluids including benzene; 2500 spills reports in Colorado alone. In any case, these fluids have contaminated water supplies, and video reports of fracking by citizens are concerning. Drinking water after fracking:
contains 29 carcinogens according to a US congressional report. In Wyoming, the EPA warned residents not to cook or drink using tap water. is toxic, in fact killing cattle, a study from Cornell here. makes water flammable, a Duke Univ study here showing methane in drinking water supplies. After water is contaminated, no one knows how to clean it up. A scientific panel of the National Academy of Sciences studied earthquakes that occurred in fracking sites in the Midwest and concluded that the earthquakes were likely caused by fracking.
Fracking and Public Action: There is a lawsuit against the State of California to require that fracking companies be subject to underwater injection control laws. Other states including Texas are introducing bills to prevent fracking until the contents of the fracked fluids is known. Germany is requiring that fracking not contaminate water. New York has a moratorium until 2015.
Fracking and California: Fracking is now coming to our home state California even though California is the #1 producer of food in the US. Agriculture in California heavily depends on water, uses 80% of California’s water. So if our water is contaminated, it will affect the produce of the entire country. In the context of a forecast of drought and a state of emergency declared by Gov. Brown on our levees in Palo Alto and San Mateo, I think it is unwise to threaten our food and water resources locally with fracking.
Bottom line: The practice of fracking safely has not been established.
This is why the Anthropocene Institute supports clean, renewable energy. There is enough power from the sun in 1 minute to power our earth for a year, and enough wind to power the world. For at least 1/5 of the US, solar is already cost-effective.