The people living in the Uinta Basin in eastern Utah are the unwitting participants in a massive scientific experiment. What happens when you put more than 11,000 oil and gas wells in a geologic basin and then seal off the air for days or weeks on end? And the initial results are alarming—smog pollution that exceeds the federal standard set to protect public health by a whopping 89 percent.
Just two weeks after the election—after anti-environmental forces gained full control of Congress for the first time in eight years—the new leadership is already at odds with the values and hopes of the public.
This guest blog post is written by Joanne Cipolla-Dennis, a resident of Dryden, NY, and member of the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition, which banned fracking in 2011. She offers these thoughts on an otherwise gloomy post-election day.
Forty-seven people, including a four-year-old child, died in July 2013 when a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac Mégantic, Quebec. Sixty-three tank cars derailed and of these, 59 punctured or ripped open and spilled oil, which ignited, exploded and destroyed the downtown. This catastrophe awoke the public to a 4,000 percent increase in the amount of crude oil shipped by rail and the incredible dangers posed by these crude oil trains to communities.
On Aug. 29, in a small step towards greater transparency, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released agency response letters confirming 243 cases in which drinking water supplies were contaminated by oil and gas drilling since 2008.
Throughout the U.S. oil and gas boom, frackers have countered public concerns about water contamination with the assurance that drilling operations target deposits that sit much deeper than drinking-water aquifers. This picture is not entirely accurate, according to recent research.
Last month, the towns of Dryden and Middlefield, New York, represented by Earthjustice, triumphed over the fracking industry after the state’s highest court ruled that the towns can use local zoning laws to ban heavy industry within their borders.