Each year since 1986, American Rivers has released its America's Most Endangered Rivers report to spotlight the nation's ten most imperiled rivers. This year, the Monongahela River found itself at #9 on the Most Endangered Rivers list. The Monongahela River provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, and is home to some of the East Coast's best fishing, whitewater boating, and wildlife. However, the river and its clean water are threatened by pollution created by natural gas extraction activities in the Marcellus Shale. The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, and the states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, must protect the region's clean water for future generations by prohibiting water quality degradation associated with Marcellus Shale drilling.
As you may know, energy companies have already begun to extract the natural gas from the area known as Marcellus Shale, through a process called hydraulic fracturing. In this process, massive quantities of water, often taken from rivers, streams, and lakes, are mixed with chemicals and injected into the earth thousands of feet below the surface in order to release the gas. Excessive water withdrawals can hurt river flows, wildlife, and river recreation. Run-off from drilling sites, along with the wastewater generated in the gas extraction process, puts surface and groundwater quality at risk.
In 2005, the Safe Drinking Water Act was changed to exempt hydraulic fracturing wastewater from the standards required for safe drinking water for our communities. It is unacceptable to subject our children to polluted drinking water due to a loophole in the law.
Development of the Marcellus Shale may be important for our energy future and that of the local communities in the region. However, that development must occur in a balanced way, so that the integrity of our clean water is not compromised. Your support for the FRAC Act is essential to ensure the protection of many major drinking water resources throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Please urge Congressional leadership to consider this legislation as soon as possible.
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