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New Yorkers should be proud of their lawmakers today.

On their first day back in session, members of the New York State Assembly voted to approve a temporary moratorium on the controversial form of gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." (No word on whether Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind" was blasting in the halls of the Capitol during the late-night vote.)

Art imitated life on CBS's hit crime show CSI last night. The episode, titled "Fracked," delved into the water-polluting form of gas drilling in which millions of gallons of chemically-treated water are blasted into the earth to extract gas from underground deposits.

The episode summary goes like this:

Two men are murdered right before exposing a natural gas company for poisoning residents in a farming town, and the CSIs must discover who is responsible for their deaths.

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.

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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.