Fracking by the Numbers: New Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center Report First to Quantify Threat of Gas Drilling
Springfield, Mass. — Today, a new Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center report called “Fracking by the Numbers” measures the damage being done by the controversial drilling practice across the country. Just one week after the Massachusetts legislature held its first-ever hearing on fracking, the report is the first study of its kind to measure the footprint of fracking damage to date — including toxic wastewater, water use, chemical use, air pollution, land damage and global warming emissions.
“When it comes to fracking, the numbers don’t lie,” said Ben Hellerstein, field associate with Environment Massachusetts. “Fracking has created billions of gallons of toxic wastewater and damaged hundreds of thousands of acres of land across the country. That is the kind of impact we can expect if we allow fracking here in Massachusetts.”
The report shows that in Pennsylvania alone, fracked wells produced 1.2 billion gallons of wastewater in 2012. Often laced with cancer-causing and even radioactive material, toxic fracking waste has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico.
Fracking is currently underway in 17 states, with more than 80,000 wells drilled since 2005. Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey announced the discovery of gas deposits in the Pioneer Valley, meaning that fracking could be coming to Western Massachusetts. Additionally, if fracking goes forward in New York State, it is possible that drilling companies will try to export toxic wastewater to Massachusetts.
“We have seen the damage that hydraulic fracturing has done in states like Pennsylvania and Colorado,” said Representative Ellen Story (Amherst). “Now is the time to protect Massachusetts from fracking. That is why I signed on as a co-sponsor of House Bill 788, which would ban fracking in Massachusetts, and why I encourage my colleagues to do the same.”
Last Thursday, the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture held a hearing on H.788 and other bills relating to fracking. John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment Massachusetts, testified at the hearing and delivered over 11,000 petition signatures in support of a fracking ban. Fourteen legislators have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
“Here in the Pioneer Valley, we’re fortunate to enjoy clean air, clean water, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Commonwealth,” said Representative Aaron Vega (Holyoke). “Fracking could change all of that. I support a statewide ban on fracking because it’s the best way to preserve everything we treasure about Western Massachusetts.”
On the federal level, Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania (D-Scranton) has introduced the CLEANER Act (H.R. 2825), a bill to close the loophole exempting oil and gas waste from the nation’s hazardous waste law.
“The time to ban fracking in Massachusetts is now, before the drilling starts,” concluded Hellerstein. “We know what’s at stake, and we need to act now to protect Massachusetts communities from the damage that fracking would bring.”