Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced his appointments to a fracking safety panel late yesterday. While this panel might seem a step in the right direction to hold the gas industry accountable for fracking threats, it falls short of what is truly needed right now: a nationwide moratorium on fracking until thorough scientific studies are conducted to assess the risks posed by fracking to drinking water, public health and the global climate.
From a brief look at the makeup of this new DOE panel, I see several red flags already. If this is truly about determining the "safety" of fracking, where are the hydrologists, air pollution experts, ecologists and climate scientists? The composition of this panel does not live up to the commitment to science-based decision-making that Secretary Chu and President Obama repeatedly tout.
DeSmogBlog released an extensive report today, "Fracking The Future," documenting the fracking threats we know about (so far) and urging a nationwide moratorium on fracking. The risks are simply too great to allow fracking to continue right now. Just in the past few months, fracking has been linked with earthquakes in Arkansas, horrid air pollution in rural gas patches, a gas well blowout in Pennsylvania, drinking water contamination and health problems among homeowners living near fracking operations. Many of these impacted families are choosing to leave their homes out of fear of further disasters and health effects. These are unacceptable risks that must be studied further immediately.
Truly independent scientists from all relevant disciplines must examine the gas industry's fracking practices thoroughly to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks to our future.
Our report also reveals Big Oil's recent takeover of the unconventional gas industry, which is no longer comprised of the "mom and pop" small independent companies that the industry's front groups claim to represent. Instead, the gas fracking boom is largely dominated by some of the largest polluters on the planet, including BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, and others. It turns out the so-called "clean" gas industry is really just the dirty oil industry in disguise.
The same corporations responsible for the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Exxon Valdez spill, the destruction of Ecuador's Amazonian rainforest and countless other pollution catastrophes, now want the public to blindly trust them, with zero federal oversight, as they pursue drilling for much riskier unconventional gas throughout the country.
While the oil and gas industry is hard at work trying to portray unconventional gas as "clean energy," in reality it is asking the public to commit to decades more reliance on a dwindling fossil fuel enterprise that, in turn, is virtually guaranteed to pollute our water, air and land, and further provoke a mounting global climate crisis.
It's time for a national moratorium. It's time to stop fracking the future.