On Monday, I blogged about the biased mainstream fracking debate citing the Associated Press – which, so slow to acknowledge the health risks of fracking-enabled oil and gas drilling, was very quick to cite fracking’s (speculative) health benefits.
Today, it’s state government’s turn.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection was legally mandated to publish a report by spring of 2012 on how climate change will affect the state. It has missed the deadline, and there’s no telling when it will be published.
One reason for the missed deadline? State government pressured Penn State report authors to remove mention of science showing natural gas’s potential climate impacts.
Yesterday’s Associated Press story about the health impacts of fracking-enabled oil and gas drilling in southwest Pennsylvania inadvertently reveals the bias that underlies much of the “mainstream” fracking debate.
The story covers results from the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project’s study:* fracking-enabled oil and gas development harms the health of residents living nearby.
One might think that a story about fracking’s threat to human health shows how robust the debate is – or even that there’s an environmental bias in fracking reporting. But one would be wrong.
Americans have spoken, and they want the Obama administration to work for the people, not the oil and gas industry.
Today, over 1 million public comments are being delivered to the Bureau of Land Management – the agency that oversees 750 million acres of public lands and minerals. The BLM has been hard at work writing new rules to govern fracking underneath Tribal lands, National Forests, Wildlife Refuges and other special places, beneath more than 50 million acres of privately-owned land, and the drinking water sources for millions of Americans.
We know that fracking is a risky process on dry land. Fracking produces toxic wastewater, risks groundwater and surface land and water contamination, and that companies refuse to disclose the chemicals used in the fracking process or composition of wastewater. Offshore, the potential for things to go wrong are even higher - any failure, spill or well blowout would immediately result in pollution in coastal waters.
A few years ago, when the movie Avatar was wowing audiences across the world, an indigenous community in India was embroiled in a struggle that paralleled that of the Na'vi : A group of people protecting their spiritually rich natural resources against a multinational corporation bent on extracting those resources. Campaigners cannily dubbed the issue the "real-life Avatar."
Today Senator Udall (D-CO) and Rep. Tipton (R-CO) introduced the Good Samaritan Clean Up of Abandoned Hard Mines Act of 2013 (Good Sam). Earthworks welcomes this common sense bipartisan solution to one of the most pervasive pollution problems in the West- the enormous damage to water quality caused by acid drainage from approximately 500,000 abandoned mines. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that 40% of the Western headwaters have pollution from mining. Clean up costs total an estimated $32-$72 billion. The Udall/Tipton bill provides one long sought solution: allow conservation organizations to perform their own clean up. Much of the hard work and progress in this area belongs to our friends at Trout Unlimited. Preventing these good samaritans from taking on the monumental task of cleaning up abandoned mines are quirks in the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund law).