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It’s finally happened. The job outsourcing phenomenon has moved to another level. Forget outsourcing jobs to other countries—now they’re being outsourced to other species.

Portland, OR, is just the latest urban area to join the hip (and sensible) species outsourcing trend. Quiet the noisy, gas guzzling, carbon polluting lawn mower. Leave those toxic herbicides on the store shelf. It’s time to call in the goats.

Bombs, nuclear power plants and groundwater. What do they all have in common? Well, according to a new study published by the University at Buffalo (UB), the answer could soon be uranium.  

The study conducted by UB geologist Tracy Bank shows that hydraulic fracture drilling, or fracking, in the Marcellus shale deposit on the East Coast of the United States will result in the pollution of groundwater with uranium. Bank found that naturally occurring uranium trapped in Marcellus shale is released into groundwater following hydraulic fracturing, a practice of pumping high-pressured water and chemicals into rock formations to break up and release elements; in this case, natural gas.

Explains Bank:

"We found that the uranium and the hydrocarbons are in the same physical space...that they are not just physically—but also chemically—bound. That led me to believe that uranium in solution could be more of an issue because the process of drilling to extract the hydrocarbons could start mobilizing the metals as well, forcing them into the soluble phase and causing them to move around."

Bank’s hypothesis proved correct once samples of Marcellus shale were tested in the laboratory. The implications of the study are significant.Polluting groundwater with uranium, a toxic metal and radioactive element, could cause serious human health impacts if the uranium made its way into municipal drinking water systems or emitted toxic radon gas near communities.

It seems the oil and gas drilling industry would rather not acknowledge the water pollution associated with hydraulic fracturing. Which is why Earthjustice is fighting on Capitol Hill to close a loophole exempting the industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act, challenging backroom deals between government regulators and the oil and gas industry, and fighting for the strongest possible regulations to protect clean air and water supplies.

You may have seen pictures of hundreds of huge fuel transport trucks stranded on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The border was closed by the Pakistani government following a drone attack that killed several suspected terrorists. The trucks are a handy target for marauding insurgents, who sneak in and torch them under cover of darkness.

There may be something of a silver lining, however.

Hey, watermelon!  Yeah, you.  Green on the outside, and commie pinko on the inside.  We're on to you.  

We found out about your latest evil plan dictated by your UN masters.  No, not the one to tax us to death for carbon.  And not the one to infringe our liberties by telling us we can't use toxic chemicals in our homes if we want to.  Something even more insidious.  

If we have any hope of reversing global warming and breaking our addiction to fossil fuels, we will need to find and pay attention to geniuses who can discard traditional thinking and biases and find a way through the current mess to a future energy economy based on efficiency and renewables.

<Update: AP reports that Interior Sec. Ken Salazar has halted the issuance of new offshore oil drilling leases nationwide until at least the end of the month. Here's how the New York Times sees Salazar's action playing out with reard to Shell Oil's plans to drill this summer in the Arctic.>

The Obama administration has been hinting for days that it might reverse course on its support for offshore oil drilling—and today it took the first real step in that direction. Shaken by the uncontrolled Gulf oil spill, the Interior Department has suspended plans for an oil and gas lease sale off the Virginia coastline.

Greenwire reports:

The move comes as the department seeks answers from investigations into the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig and the ongoing leak of hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil every day into the Gulf.

Last February, after Canada banned mining and mineral development in its portion of the Flathead River Valley, Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso described the area as "a treasure more precious than coal or gold."

Today—thanks to a decision by ConocoPhillips—you can expand Preso's description to include oil and gas in Montana's portion of the Flathead Valley. Conoco announced that it was giving up its oil and gas leases on 169,000 acres near Glacier National Park.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.