A complete list of all FracTracker posts.

Corbett’s Commission: Voodoo Economists Push Zombie Industry

By Patrick Walker

Increasingly, bright Republicans strain to save their party from its “know-nothing” fringe.Particularly key is climate change, on which both Republicans for the Environment, and formerRepublican EPA Administrators William D. Ruckelshaus and Christine Todd Whitman, haverecently lambasted the GOP’s climate change knuckle-draggers.

Their success is critical, as governing our nation will long remain a bipartisan affair. When allserious climatologists—and the National Academy of Sciences, America’s most prestigiousscientific body—insist human-caused climate change is real and menaces Earth’s survival,science-denying partisanship has no good excuse.

Regrettably for our planet, Republican “fossil fools” steer Pennsylvania’s ship of state. Thinkthat’s harsh? Then you missed the maiden voyage of Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. Virtually adrool for Marcellus gold, not one of Corbett’s handpickedcrew let the clouds of climate reality dim their gas-fueled sunshine. Yet the best available sciencesuggests “lifecycle” natural gas has a dirtier greenhouse imprint than coal.

Corbett’s science—and economics—apparently derive from witch doctors.

Fossil fuels—all of them—have almost outlived useful days, but Corbett’s “voodoo economics”would make these ghouls twitch another 100 years. Enlightened Republicans—like Democrats—will resist voodoo’s lethal spell, and slay the gas zombies before it’s too late.

Submitted to FracTracker by Patrick Walker. Contact information: pjwalkerzorro@yahoo.com, or (570) 945-7621.

Municipal Level Census Data Now on FT’s DataTool

2010 Municipal Population in Pennsylvania (small)
Municipal level census data in Pennsylvania for the year 2010. Click the image to see a larger, dynamic snapshot.

Municipal level census data is now available to visualize or download from FracTracker’s DataTool. Categories of note include:

  • 2010 US Census count
  • 2000 US Census count
  • Net change from 2000 to 2010
  • Percent change from 2000 to 2010

Among other uses, this dataset allows for some basic explorations of how the Marcellus Shale industry affects communities throughout the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania population and Marcellus Shale gas production by municipality. For information on a specific municipality, please zoom in and click the “i” button in the blue circle, then the map feature of your choice. Please click on the gray compass rose and double carat (^) to hide those menus.

Without doing any serious number crunching, this map shows that gas from the Marcellus Shale is being extracted in more sparsely populated areas of the state. Let’s take a closer look at Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Southwestern Pennsylvania population and Marcellus Shale gas production by municipality. For information on a specific municipality, please zoom in and click the “i” button in the blue circle, then the map feature of your choice. Please click on the gray compass rose and double carat (^) to hide those menus.

Note the ring of Marcellus Shale production around the heavily populated municipalities surrounding Pittsburgh.

We can also take a look to see whether the Marcellus Shale gas industry had any obvious effect on populations in Pennsylvania.


Population change and the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. Please zoom in and click the “i” button in the blue circle, then the map feature of your choice. Please click on the gray compass rose and double carat (^) to hide those menus.

Areas with the most population loss are white, and those with the largest gains are black. In addition, municipalities with Marcellus Shale production in the last half of 2010 are outlined in red, while those without are outlined in blue. With a cursory look, it appears that the areas with Marcellus Shale production are actually more likely to lose population–a topic that merits further analysis.

The municipal spatial data is from PennDOT (via PASDA), while the population data is of course from the US Census Bureau.

Bradford Era Guest Commentary – Drilling is Spreading like Cancer

by Jan Hendryx, DO

As the unconventional development of natural gas from shale drum keeps beating “jobsand money”, I find myself perplexed and dismayed by the lack of media attentiondevoted to the disastrous environmental havoc and potential serious health issues createdby this activity.

Over the last year, my wife and I have had our lives turned upside down by Marcellusshale development near our rural home in Mt. Jewett. We have been forced to educateourselves on a daily basis about the many complex issues associated with this activity.

As a physician, I am extremely concerned about the health of all citizens and futuregenerations due to adverse events and toxic water and air exposures associated with shaledevelopment. Unfortunately, our political leaders and gas industry executives do notappear to share this concern. They have effectively blocked access to information aboutthe multitude of poisonous chemicals in fracking fluid by exempting it from the SafeDrinking Water Act.

DEP permits massive volumes of inadequately treated residual wastewater from thesewells containing large amounts of total dissolved solids, volatile cancer-causing organiccompounds, and radioactive substances to be discharged daily into our rivers, includingthe Allegheny and Clarion. These chemicals travel downstream and can seep intosuperficial aquifers along the watershed banks, or are taken up directly at communitydrinking water intakes for public consumption. Everyone “in charge” seems content to sitacross the table from us and offer a neighborly fracking fluid/residual waste cocktail todrink, bathe in, and inhale.

Governor Corbett just announced a streamlining of gas well permitting, cut backs in stateemployees (most likely decreasing oversight by DEP), and is refusing to tax the naturalgas industry, while cutting state budgets in all areas. As our communities are strappedeconomically and the roads and infrastructure destroyed by the parade of trucks carryingdrilling equipment, fracking fluid, water, and residual waste to and from well sites, wecontinue to welcome the gas companies into our homes and on our land like they are theSecond Coming of the Christ.

Deep shale natural gas drilling is spreading like a fast-growing uncontrolled cancerthroughout Pennsylvania with hundreds of thousands of wells predicted to be drilledover the next few decades. A massive campaign by multinational gas companies,consulting “experts”, politicians, and now our universities is attempting to transformmuch of the northeast U.S. into the “next Saudi Arabia”. Our exposure to the chemicalsused in the hydrofracturing process will most likely cause a marked increase in cancerand other illnesses. Our environment, drinking water, air quality, property values,roadways, and quality of life are being destroyed at a rapid pace.

What the gas companies and politicians aren’t telling us is that this development isn’t justfor our own energy sustainability, but for export to other countries. Natural gas is alreadybeing shipped to China, India, and elsewhere.

We need to wake up and stop burying our heads in the sand regarding these issues. Weall need to educate ourselves about the myriad of problems, and stop being sweet-talkedby the politicians, media, radio and TV commercials. It is already too late for residentsin Bradford, Dimock, Hickory Township and other communities who have had theirdrinking water, and possibly their homes, destroyed by gas drilling. It is too late forcitizens who have seen their property values drop by 85% once their well or spring hasbecome polluted.

We collectively need to take a stand NOW and urge our state and federal representativesto enact a ban on further unconventional deep shale development until the issues can beappropriately researched, addressed and resolved–and before it is too late for the rest ofPennsylvania. Our future depends on it!

For information about gas drilling, permits, violations, spills, residual waste dumpingat water treatment plants, and health and environmental issues, I urge you to go towww.fractracker.org. This is a website maintained by the University of PittsburghGraduate School of Public Health. I also urge you to go to the New York Times website,www.nytimes.com and read the series of “Drilling Deep” articles published fromFebruary 27-March 8, 2011 about the Pennsylvania debacle.

Jan Hendryx, DO, maintains a clinical practice in Erie, and is a native Bradfordian.

The above article was originally published in the Bradford Era on 3/14/11.


If you would like something you have written or pictures you have taken regarding natural gas drilling to be published on FracTracker.org, please send us the document in an easily accessible file format (such as Word) to malone@fractracker.org. If you would like photographs to be included, include them in individual files (JPG’s or PNG’s) along with the email. Please provide your name and affiliation upon the submission of your piece.

Seeking a Physician in Bradford County

Recently we received an email from a resident of Bradford County, PA. This person is seeking a nearby physician who has experience and/or knowledge of the effects of extractive industries on health and is accepting new patients.

Please forward contact information for potential physicians to me: slm75@pitt.edu.

Ohio River Barium Concentration Trending Upward

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) has been testing the main stem of the Ohio River for the presence of a variety of metals for some time, with results since 1998 published at their website. Mappable versions (1) of this data from 2010 are now posted on FracTracker’s DataTool as well. Over the years, the scope of the ORSANCO sampling efforts has broadened, both in the number of sampling locations as well as sampling frequency. In recent years, there are seventeen (2) locations, from which samples are obtained every odd numbered month. Currently, the most recent data available is July 2010.
Given the rapid surge in Marcellus Shale oil and gas drilling activity within the ORSANCO drainage basin and the millions of gallons of wastewater that ultimately finds its way into the Ohio River by way of numerous treatment plants and road deicing, I wanted to see if the impact of this industrial activity was reflected in the data.

[map archived]

I decided to take a look at barium concentrations. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, background levels of barium are not especially high in this region (3), noting:

…[Barium] occurs naturally in almost all (99.4%) surface waters examined, in concentration of 2 to 340 ug/l, with an average of 43 ug/l. The drainage basins with low mean concentration of barium (15 ug/l) occur in the western Great Lakes, and the highest mean concentration of 90 ug/l is in the southwestern drainage basins of the lower Mississippi Valley. In stream water and most groundwater, only traces of the element are present.

Barium is also a signature constituent of sorts of Marcellus Shale wastewater. According to this industry report, barium values range from 2,000 to 6,500 milligrams per liter in the wastewater.

[map archived]

This gives us an idea of how concentrations vary in space, at least on this occasion. Note that each of the first four testing locations downstream from the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh are among the highest group, with barium values in the 56.7 to 70.8 micrograms per liter (µg/L)range. These values are at once notably above the average background level and well below the EPA drinking water standard for barium of 2 milligrams per liter (4).

But what about changes over time? Marcellus Shale drilling activity has been increasing exponentially since the first well was drilled in 2006. Could this activity have any long term effects? To investigate this point, I compiled the barium amounts since 2006, and selected the three testing locations closest to Pennsylvania: New Cumberland Locks and Dam, Pike Island Locks and Dam, and Hannibal Locks and Dam.

ORCANCO barium values at New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal testing locations. Please click here for a larger view.

Right off the bat, we can see that there are significant seasonal variances, with peaks in late summer, and troughs in the late spring. That appears to be inversely proportional to the average flow rate of the Ohio River.


Average annual flow rate of the Ohio River at Wheeling, WV. Units are in Thousands of cubic feet per second (KCBS), and represent values between 9-1-98 and 2-29-08. Detailed flow data is available here.

Since barium values are clearly lower when there is more water in the river, it seems likely that such fluctuations would be due to dilution of pollution rather than natural circumstances.

Seasonal differences aside, the dashed trendlines of barium concentration show another story. Barium values are going up at all three locations. Significantly.


Approximate start and end values for the trendlines representing barium content in micrograms per liter at three testing locations on the Ohio River.

So while the recorded values themselves in the main stem of the northeastern portion of the Ohio River are not alarming, the fact that they are increasing so rapidly is a concern. It is worth bearing in mind that the values in some tributaries might be much higher, and that barium is only one of many pollutants associated with Marcellus Shale wastewater disposal.

Of course, none of this amounts to establishing causation between the Marcellus Shale industry and the elevated barium levels, but the circumstantial evidence is strong: barium values are very high in the wastewater, which is finding its way in large amounts into the Ohio River, where barium values are rising sharply.

  1. Locations were found with Google Maps, based on location description. In most cases, samples were taken from specific locks and dam structures, allowing for a fairly exact location. Some other locations are designated by the name of a small town, in which case, the mapped locations may be off by a mile or so.
  2. There is now an eighteenth testing location, McAlpine, 0.2 miles downstream of the Louisville testing station.
  3. While surface water is typically low in barium here, well water can be a significant issue:

    The drinking water of many communities in Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, & New Mexico contains concentrations of barium that may be 10 times higher than the drinking water standard. The source of these supplies is usually well water. Currently 60 ground water supplies and 1 surface water supply exceeds 1000 ug/l.

  • While these numbers are not alarming, it is worth noting that they are measured at an extremely well mixed area (locks and dams) of a massive river; at the time of this writing, the flow at Wheeling, WV was 134,700 cubic feet per second. Barium values on some tributaries could be much higher.

Greene County Man Charged with Wastewater Dumping

Archived

This article has been archived and is provided for reference purposes only.

 

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office released a statement yesterday, saying that criminal charges have been filed against Robert Allen Shipman from Green County and his company, Allen’s Waste Water Services, Inc., for allegedly dumping millions of gallons of waste, including gas drilling waste, in six southwestern Pennsylvania counties between 2003 and 2009. There are 98 charges against him personally, and an addtional 77 counts against his company.

The grand jury and Acting Pennsylvania Attorney General William H. Ryan, Jr. allege that Mr. Shipman’s company operated in the following manner:

  • Drivers were instructed to mix several waste types, obscuring the actual contents, allowing for easier disposal
  • Destroying original manifests with forged ones, in order to overcharge customers
  • Leaving valves open on trucks at gas wells after dark or in rainy periods, in order to illegally dump wastewater onto the ground
  • Dumping into a drain at a Allan’s Waste Water Services facility, which drains directly into a stream

According to the Post Gazette, Mr. Shipman has posted a $50,000 bond, and Allan’s Waste Water Services is open for business.

If convicted, Mr. Shipman could face jail time and fines up to $1.5 million and another $1.2 million for his company. According to the Post-Gazette article, Mr. Shipman’s operation earned him up to $7 million per year.

A preliminary hearing has been set for March 25th in Greene County.

New Arkansas Panel Report: Model Oil and Gas Laws

By Arkansas Public Policy Panel

Yesterday, we released the second in a series of reports on natural gas drilling in Arkansas: Model Oil and Gas Laws, Regulations and Ordinances. This report looks at how other states with thriving natural gas industries protect their residents. We found that many states and communities enjoy far better safeguards than Arkansas. The findings refute claims by the natural gas industry that improved safeguards for Arkansans will drive them out of business and hurt economic development.

We believe Arkansas communities deserve the best protections available. There is a way to balance natural gas development with landowner and environmental protection. This report highlights some of the best practices other states use to find that balance.  Executive Summary  |  Full Report

Quebec Bans Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas

According to the Montreal Gazette, Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) has banned the hydraulic fracturing technique of stimulating oil and gas wells throughout the province.

Details are not yet posted on the English section of the BAPE website. According to the article, the ban is in place immediately, but does not affect the 31 wells which have already been drilled. Additionally, hydraulic fracturing can be conducted if it is determined by a panel of experts to be for scientific purposes.

Gas Drilling Waste Pollution Permit Under Scrutiny

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2011

Gas Drilling Waste Pollution Permit Under Scrutiny
Bowing to industry pressure, state has bent the rules for wastewater treatment plant

HARRISBURG, PA – Environmental groups are challenging a new proposal to allow a gas drilling wastewater treatment plant operated by Shallenberger Construction, Inc. to dump 500,000 gallons of water polluted by toxic chemicals into the Monongahela River each day without adequate protections for drinking water.

The nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice filed comments (PDF) on behalf of Clean Water Action and 18 other organizations, disclosing that – for the second time in the short history of the treatment plant – the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) has made an exception to the rules for Shallenberger. The comments also highlight a host of other problems with the plant’s permit, which could result in the contamination of the Monongahela River, a drinking water source for 350,000 people.

Earlier this month, the New York Times published a series of investigative articles on the environmental impacts of the gas drilling boom in Pennsylvania, highlighting the lax regulations governing the gas drilling industry. Yesterday federal lawmakers, including Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), introduced legislation aimed at protecting drinking water from gas drilling pollution.

“Pennsylvania is being held up nationwide as a poster child for gas development gone wrong. And this shoddy pollution permit certainly won’t do anything to change its reputation. Even as state officials try to appear as if they are being tough on polluters, they keep bending over backwards to accommodate an industry that is clearly uninterested in anything but short-term profits,” said Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg. “It’s high time that state leaders recognized that the health of the 350,000 people who depend on the Mon for their drinking water clearly comes first.”

The sole purpose of the Shallenberger plant (located in Masontown, PA, in the southwestern corner of the state) is to treat polluted water from industrial gas development in the Marcellus shale, including wastewater from the controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing – in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into the earth to extract the gas. Clean Water Action has been in litigation (PDF) since 2009 over a prior secret agreement to allow the plant several years to discharge incompletely treated wastewater, in spite of legal requirements that new wastewater treatment plants be built with adequate controls right from the start.

“As we detail in our comments, DEP has twice told the public that Shallenberger’s permit will contain one set of limits, while the agency is planning to enforce completely different standards. DEP needs to come clean with its true intentions and protect our drinking water from dirty gas extraction wastes,” stated Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action.

DEP first issued an unlawfully lenient discharge permit to Shallenberger in September 2008. After pollution in the Monongahela River exceeded water quality standards, the State entered into negotiations with Shallenberger to amend the permit. DEP gave the company more than three years from the end of August 2009 to meet new limits, however, and even those were inadequate. The negotiations were conducted behind closed doors, and the deal was never subject to public notice or review. The new draft permit also is subject to toothless deadlines and other deficiencies.

Heather Panek, a Clean Water Action member living in nearby Monongahela, PA, stated, “As a life long resident of the Mon Valley, I can’t understand why the state would allow Shallenberger to start polluting our drinking water. This plant has been operating successfully for a about a year without discharging a drop. Not only could there be health problems, if DEP allows untreated pollution into the river, but our businesses could be hurt as well. What person or business is going to want to move into a community without access to clean water?”

For a copy of the comments filed, click here (PDF).

CONTACT:
Deborah Goldberg, Earthjustice, (212) 791-1881, ext. 227
Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 235
Myron Arnowitt, Clean Water Action, (412) 592-1283, cell
###

Clean Water Action, with over 150,000 members in Pennsylvania, has been empowering people for more than 37 years to take action to protect America’s waters, the health of our families and to make democracy work.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.

Environmental Injustice Letter on Impact of Shale Gas Drilling

The Center for Constitutional Rights and Columbia Environmental Law Clinic submitthis letter to provide background on hydraulic fracturing in the United States. The Center forConstitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by theUnited States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CCR is based inNew York but works throughout the United States and internationally to promote and protecthuman rights. Supervised by clinical faculty, Columbia Environmental Law Clinic studentsrepresent local, regional and national environmental and community organizations working tosolve critical environmental challenges facing the New York metropolitan region as well as otherparts of the world. The Clinic is part of a team of lawyers from local, state and nationalorganizations who bring their legal resources to address impacts of gas drilling in the MarcellusShale, a shale formation that cuts across New York and Pennsylvania. This joint letter withbackground and recommendations identifies substantial deficiencies in the U.S. Government’sregulation and monitoring hydraulic fracturing.

In the last several decades the United States has experienced political and economicpressure to decrease its dependence on foreign fossil fuels and increase domestic fossil fuelproduction. New technological developments have allowed the fossil fuel industry to extractnatural gas from shale resources previously thought too expensive and difficult to tap. One suchdevelopment, hydraulic fracturing, has been used in the industry for over 60 years and is nowutilized in around 90 percent of the nation’s oil and gas wells.1 The process involves injectingwater, chemicals and natural materials into the well to release trapped gases. Unfortunately,government regulators and industry leaders have historically ignored the substantial health and welfare costs associated with the process.2 Government regulators and industry leaders havehistorically ignored the substantial health and welfare costs associated with the process.Residents living in areas near fracturing sites have higher incidents of cancer and have reportedthat water itself is often discolored, pungent and contains bubbles because of the high levels ofmethane gas.3

PA Wastewater spills by county (small)
Demo: PA Wastewater Spills by County
Click to work with map.

The most substantial risk associated with hydraulic fracturing is massive water sourcecontamination in regions where the process is employed. Residents in such jurisdictions havereported drinking water contamination in every state where hydraulic fracturing wells exist;sometimes so severe that flammable tap water caused homes to explode.4 In a two and a half yearperiod, hydraulic fracturing operations committed around 1,500 violations of Pennsylvania oiland gas law alone, all of which potentially endangered local water quality and many of whichwent un-publicized.5 State and Federal agencies have declared the drinking water in several ruraltowns, like Dimock, Pennsylvania and Pavilion, Wyoming undrinkablecontaminants used in near-by hydraulic fracturing operations.6

The impacts of such contamination risks disproportionately affect rural, economicallyunderdeveloped communities throughout the country. Water withdrawal and contaminationdisproportionately impacts farmers and fishermen. Politics and economics make it substantiallymore likely that hydraulic fracturing wells will be located in rural regions. Local communities inrural areas throughout the United States are more likely to agree to the environmentallydestructive practices of the fossil fuel industry in exchange for the promise of economicstimulation because they have less diverse economies. Large urban metropolises are betterequipped to resist pressure from the natural gas industry. For example, despite the existence ofvaluable Marcellus Shale Resources in the region, the New York City Department ofEnvironmental Protection has declared that, “hydraulic fracturing poses an unacceptable threat tothe unfiltered water supply of nine million New Yorkers and cannot safely be permitted with the New York City watershed.”7 One of the strategies employed by the City of New York topreserve the quality of water is to acquire key plots of land surrounding the watershed so theymay be protected from hydraulic fracturing operations. This might prove too costly for othermunicipalities, especially those in economically disadvantaged areas.

The placement of natural gas extraction in rural areas increases the likelihood that the watercontamination will go undetected because rural water supplies are difficult to monitor. TheEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States has more stringent water qualityreporting requirements for suppliers providing to 10,000 or more consumers (metropolitansuppliers),8 and the EPA lacks jurisdiction to monitor private water wells.9 As a result,contamination due to hydraulic fracturing can go largely undetected in rural areas.

The negative effects of hydraulic fracturing may also disproportionately affect indigenouspopulations. Many of the largest shale deposits with developmental potential reach into triballands, which tend to be rural, underdeveloped and susceptible to promises of economicdevelopment. Even if wells are not drilled on tribal lands, wells in neighboring rural lands couldstill impact the water supply of tribes. Many tribes have expressed a deep moral opposition to thepractice of hydraulic fracturing.10

While state and municipal regulation of hydraulic fracturing does exist, federal law isseverely deficient. In 2005, Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industryfrom being regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.11 This is the only industry allowed to inject known toxins into the ground near water supplies without any federal oversight. Wastesgenerated during the production of natural gas are categorized as “special wastes” and thus areexempt from regulations that cover “hazardous wastes” under the Safe Drinking Water Act.Furthermore, many of the chemical mixtures injected into ground water supplies are protected bylaws governing “trade secrets”, making it impossible to definitively identify the hydraulicfracturing as the cause of the deterioration of water quality.

Recommendations

  • FRAC Act) (H.R. 2766) (S. 1215),which aims to repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing under SDWA and wouldrequire complete disclosure of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process. TheBill was introduced to both houses on June 9, 2009.12
  • State governments must continue to actively monitor and regulate the industry and theEPA must seek to ensure maximum monitoring of water contamination in hydraulicfracturing regions. The U.S. Government should increase and supplement currentmonitoring of water sources near coal bed methane sites where increasing levels ofmethane have been documented.
  • Congress should repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing from the purview of theSafe Water Drinking Act (SWDA), and regulate hydraulic fracturing under section 1425of the SWDA, since all other extractive industry injection activity has been regulatedunder the flexible terms of that provision for decades.
  • Congress should ensure greater transparency on all levels of the industrial and regulatoryprocesses, by requiring public disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, whichcurrently is considered a trade secret.
  • Congress should ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and CulturalRights (ICESCR) protecting the right to water.13

Please contact Susan Kraham with any further questions or concerns at (212)854-5008 orskraha@law.columbia.edu. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

This letter was originally sent to:

Dr. Catarina de Albuquerque
Independent Expert on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations
Related to Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation.
ESCR Section
Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Sincerely,

Susan Kraham, Senior Staff Attorney
Lauren Daniel, Student
Surya Binoy, Student
Columbia Environmental Law Clinic
435 W. 116th St.
New York, New York 10027

Rachel Meeropol
Sunita Patel
Krystle Gan
Center for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, New York 10012


References

1Riverkeeper Report, Fractured Communities: Case Studies of the Environmental Impacts of IndustrialGas Drilling, 3 (Sept. 2010) available here.
2See Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing Research Study Fact Sheet (June 2010)available here (PDF). The final EPA Report’s anticipatedrelease is in 2012.
3 E.g., Laura Amos, Garfield County, Co: Family’s Water well was contaminated after hydraulicfracturing near home, EARTHWORKS, here (last visitedFeb. 22, 2011).
4The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Determined that a December, 2007 explosion at aBainbridge, OH home was cause by a high-volume hyradraulic fracturing operation in the nearby“Clinton” sandstone formation. Natural Gas migrated through the fractures into nearby acquifers and theninto local water wells fed by the aquifers. Report on the Investigation of the Natural Gas Invasion ofAquifers in Bainbridge Township of Geauga County, Ohio (Sept. 2008), available here.
5Riverkeeper Report, supra, note 1 at 5.
6 For a discussion of major reported instances of water contamination nationwide, see Riverkeeper Report, supra, note 1.
7Press Release, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Department of EnvironmentalProtection Calls for Prohibition on Drilling in the New York City Watershed (Dec. 23, 2009), available here.
8Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, 42 U.S.C. §300g et. seq. (2004).
942 U.S.C § 300g; US Environmental Protection Agency, Report on the Environment: Drinking WaterQuality (accessed Feb. 22, 2010), Here (“Private wells, cisterns, and other non-public water supplies are not subject to federalregulation…no national infrastructure, and few if any systematic state efforts, currently exist to collectdata on trends in the quality of these supplies.”).
10For example, the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, a comprehensive indigenous responseorganization, has stated that, “The Haudenosaunee have a unique spiritual, cultural, and historicrelationship with the land…when humans tinker more and more with the natural balance, we do so at theperil of our grandchildren. In few cases is this more apparent than the proposed method of natural gasdrilling known as hydraulic fracturing or ‘hydrofracking’.” Haudenosaunee Statement on Hydrofraking: More.
11Energy Policy Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-58, § 1(a), 119 Stat. 594 (2005). Paragraph (1) of section1421(d) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300h(d)) is amended to read as follows: (1)UNDERGROUND INJECTION – The term ‘underground injection’ – (A) means the subsurfaceemplacement of fluids by well injection; and (B) excludes – (i) the underground injection of natural gasfor purposes of storage; and (ii) the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than dieselfuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.
12The summary and status of this bill in both houses can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:H.R.2766 (site not presently working) (House); and here (Senate).
13The United Nations Human Rights Council derived the right to water implicitly in the Article 11 rightto “an adequate standard of living, particularly since it is one of the most fundamental conditions ofsurvival.” U.N. Comm’ee Econ. Soc. & Cultural Rights, Substantive Issues Arising in theImplementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, GeneralComment No. 15, U.N. Doc. E/C.12/2002/11 (2003), available here.


Additional Resources

  • Statement of Lisa P. Jackson Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Legislative Hearing on EPA’s 2011 Budget Proposal Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works – Read