Across the country, the risky method of gas drilling known as "fracking" is causing polluted air, explosions, earthquakes and even flammable tap water.
But incredibly, as frackers rush to expand the practice, it remains totally unregulated by federal health and safety officials.
The Obama Administration has begun the process of passing some rules, but it's clear they are bowing to pressure from the gas industry at every turn.
Recently, the Department of Interior released a draft rule to regulate fracking on federal lands, and like a number of opportunities before it, the Obama Administration caved to the gas industry to allowing major loopholes that fail to protect us from the dangers of fracking. The agency is now accepting comments on the rule, and we need to urge them to protect public land, water and health -- not the gas industry.
Tell the Obama Administration: Stop caving to the gas industry! Pass strong rules to protect federal lands from fracking.
You know that when American Petroleum Industry president Jack Gerard is crowing about how closely the administration is listening to the natural gas industry, and a lobbyist from the American Chemistry Council says "It took a while for the administration to realize the role it could play...What we've seen is an evolution in thinking," we are in trouble.
But after months of pressure from industry the latest Interior rule represents another in a string of recent concessions by the Obama Administration, including weakening a draft rule to reduce air pollution from fracking, refusing to take action to ban diesel fuel from fracking fluid, and even downplaying EPA studies which found water contamination from fracking in Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
Fracking, involves pumping millions of gallons of water and a largely secret mix of toxic chemicals, deep underground at high pressure, to literally fracture the rock and release trapped pockets of natural gas.
One fifth of all fracking happens on federal lands, so the Interior Department rule could be an opportunity for the administration to fill the void for strong national standards to at least force companies to disclose the toxic chemicals they are pumping through our groundwater, and set strong standards for safe disposal of the fracking fluid.
But the rule fails to do even that - and we need to urge the Department of Interior to substantially strengthen it.
Tell the Obama Administration: Stop caving to the gas in industry! Pass strong rules to protect federal lands from fracking.
Rather than set strong standards for chemical disclosure and water treatment, the new rule opens up key loopholes on both.
This allows gas drillers to keep secret until after they drill the toxic mix of chemicals in their fracking fluid - making it far easier for them to avoid accountability in cases of water contamination.
Additionally, the rule continues to allow dangerous open evaporation pits drillers use to dispose of the huge volumes of toxic fracking wastewater that is recovered after fracking. The open chemical mixture goes airborne, unleashing toxic air pollution in the surrounding area. These pits can also leak this toxic fluid into land and water, and pose a major spill risk from floods or storms.
As the gas industry rapidly scrambles to expand fracking all over the country, it isn't waiting for states or the federal government to adequately fill the regulatory void that was created when Dick Cheney exempted fracking from federal regulation in his 2005 energy bill.
It is clear that the Obama Administration has been hearing from the gas industry. Now they need to hear from us too - there is no time to waste to pass strong rules to protect us from the substantial dangers posed by natural gas fracking.
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