A significant milestone in the future of fracking in the United States is fast approaching, as the public comment period closes next week for industry-approved plans to open 600 million acres of public lands to the controversial drilling practice.
According to President Barack Obama, fracked natural gas “can provide not only safe cheap power, but it can only help reduce our carbon emissions.”
Unfortunately, the facts of fracking tell a different story: poisoned water supplies, degraded land, air pollution. And we don’t even know how bad the climate impact is, because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is relying on self-reporting from the natural gas industry to claim that as fracking has increased, pollution has declined. Independent testing and modeling of the greenhouse threat from fracking has repeatedly given results that are as bad as or worse than burning coal. As acclaimed climate scientist Ken Caldeira told Climate Progress, natural gas “is a bridge to a world with high CO2 levels, melting ice caps, acidified oceans…”
A troubling pattern of putting profits over scientific facts and public health has emerged as the administration promotes fracking on our public lands:
— The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency abandoned its claim that a fracker in Parker County, Texas, was contaminating drinking water with methane. [Dallas Star-Telegram, 3/31/12]
— The EPA dropped a multimillion-dollar investigation into water contamination from fracking in Wyoming. [ProPublica, 7/3/13]
— EPA whistleblowers emerged with evidence that top Obama officials censored the EPA’s investigation of water contamination from fracking in Dimock, PA. [E&E News,7/30/13]
— The new Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, authored a report underwritten by the natural gas industry praising fracking. [Mint Press News, 8/13/13]
While administration officials suppress the facts, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed a set of rules that will allow fracking on 600 million acres of federal land. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the proposed rules "give industry a free pass.” In fact, DeSmogBlog has detailed how the BLM rules mirror plans developed by the Exxon Mobil-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The Bureau of Land Management is accepting public comments until August 23 on the administration’s proposed set of rules. The climate and progressive advocacy organizations Forecast the Facts and Daily Kos have launched a petition calling on President Obama to ban fracking on federal lands. A coalition of groups opposing the BLM rules plan to deliver the petition in a rally going from LaFayette Park to BLM headquarters on August 22 in Washington, DC.
Brad Johnson is the campaign manager of Forecast the Facts.