To stop fracking on many of our wildest public lands in the West. To slow the runaway push by the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies to open vast amounts of land to industry. To demand that any chemicals injected in such process are known to the public and chemicals that could threaten clean water be banned. To limit like cigarettes, the ability of industry to advertise this as clean and safe. To once again demand that any tax breaks given to the oil and gas industry, be eliminated.
Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing. It’s an extremely water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid – typically a mix of water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer – are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. This so-called fracking releases extra oil and/or gas from the rock, so it can flow into the well.
But the process of fracking introduces additional industrial activity into communities beyond the well. Clearing land to build new access roads and new well sites, drilling and encasing the well, fracking the well and generating the waste, trucking in heavy equipment and materials and trucking out the vast amounts of toxic waste — all of these steps contribute to air and water pollution risks and devaluation of land that is turning our communities into sacrifice zones. It can take up to 7 million gallons to frack a single well, and at least 30 percent of that water is lost forever, after being trapped deep in the shale.
Nowhere is this clearer, than in lands around Carlsbad, New Mexico and up in the northeastern portion of the state, the San Juan Basin. Yet, fracking is not limited to New Mexico; it is actively occurring in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Texas and Utah, devastating the land, destroying wilderness quality, by the creation of a spider web of roads, and destroying fresh water. The oil and gas industry continues to paint this as a clean, safe alternative. Yet, the facts paint a very different picture.
Fracking threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities we love and the climate on which we all depend. That’s why over 250 communities in the U.S. have passed resolutions to stop fracking, and why Vermont, France and Bulgaria have stopped it. Communities in New Mexico have passed ordinances banning it, and now Big Oil is working to stop local ordinances at the state level.
Fracking is inherently unsafe and we cannot rely on regulation to protect communities’ water, air and public health. The industry enjoys exemptions from key federal legislation protecting our air and water, thanks to aggressive lobbying and cozy relationships with our federal decision makers (the exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act is often referred to as the Cheney or Halliburton Loophole, because it was negotiated by then-Vice President Dick Cheney with Congress in 2005.) Plus, the industry is aggressively clamping down on local and state efforts to regulate fracking by buying influence and even bringing lawsuits to stop them from being implemented. That’s why fracking can’t be made safer through government oversight or regulations. An all-out ban on fracking is the only way to protect our communities. Across the world today, the battles fought often oil and the fight to continue our dependence on fossil fuels. In this battle, in the West, the victim continues to be fresh water. That can only lead to the wars of the future, the fight for what clean water remains. Let’s work to protect the water that remains the life blood of today and stop now the potential wars of the future.