Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is perhaps Congress’ most reliable defender of dirty energy and evangelizer against the “hoax” of global warming. This morning, he took his message to Fox News host Brian Kilmeade’s radio show, where he extolled the virtues of hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting natural gas known widely as “fracking.” Fracking is a relatively new and untested technique, but Inhofe insisted that there’s nothing to worry about, as he claimed fracking has “never poisoned anyone” nor ever contaminated groundwater:
INHOFE: [There's] never been one case — documented case — of groundwater contamination in the history of the thousands and thousands of hydraulic fracturing. [...]
KILMEADE: Senator, has it ever poisoned anybody?
INHOFE: It’s never poisoned anyone.
While fracking has the potential to create vast new American energy supplies, Inhofe’s claim that it is completely without risk is either stunningly ignorant or intentionally dishonest. Just yesterday, a blowout at a Pennsylvania natural gas well engaged in fracking spilled thousands of gallons of toxic chemical-laced water, “contaminating a stream and forcing the evacuation of seven families who live nearby as crews struggled to stop the gusher,” the AP reported. Inhofe referenced the Pennsylvania spill in his interview, but said that it has “nothing to do with fracking” because it was a stream, not groundwater that was contaminated.
But fracking has contaminated groundwater. As a recent New York Times investigation confirmed, waste from fracking has contaminated groundwater and even drinking water with toxic and radioactive chemicals. The process relies on pumping toxic chemicals deep underground to break rock, and between 2005 and 2009, “hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals” have been pumped into wells. Large amounts of radioactive material have been found in water supplies near fracking sites, many Pennsylvanians have gotten sick, the tap water in homes near fracking sites have caught on fire, and a home in Celveland, Ohio blew up.
It’s worth noting that the oil and gas industry has been Inhofe’s top contributor over his political career, giving him over $450,000 in the last election cycle alone, even though Inhofe wasn’t up for reelection. Inhofe’s single largest campaign donor is oil conglomerate Koch Industries.