Boston – This morning, at the state legislature’s first-ever hearing on fracking, Environment Massachusetts presented petitions from more than 11,700 residents calling on Beacon Hill to ban the dirty drilling process, which has polluted drinking water and made nearby residents sick in other states. The petitions show wide support for H.788, a bill introduced by Representatives Peter Kocot and Denise Provost to ban fracking -- and the processing of its toxic wastewater -- in the Commonwealth.
“In every state where fracking has occurred, from Pennsylvania to Colorado, it has been an environmental disaster,” said Ben Hellerstein, field associate for Environment Massachusetts. “The time to protect Massachusetts communities from the dangers of fracking is now.”
Local concern about fracking has grown since last December, when an industry-affiliated group met with Western Massachusetts landowners to discuss the prospects for drilling in the Pioneer Valley. Moreover, as New York mulls large-scale fracking next door, drilling operators could soon view Western Massachusetts as a convenient dumping ground for toxic fracking wastewater.
"In light of the threats to our environment and to our health, we cannot allow fracking - or its toxic waste - to come to Massachusetts," said Representative Denise Provost, sponsor of H.788.
Bill H.788 would protect the Commonwealth from both of these threats by both banning fracking and its wastewater. Vermont has already enacted a similar law, and New Jersey legislators voted overwhelmingly for a ban on fracking waste (and citizens there are calling for an override of Governor Christie’s veto).
Laced with cancer-causing and even radioactive materials, fracking wastewater has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico. For Western Massachusetts, such threats are heightened by the fact that many communities in the Pioneer Valley rely on groundwater as their sole source of drinking water.
"The quantity and quality of our existing water supply is invaluable and irreplaceable," declared Mayor Michael Tautznik of Easthampton. "Gambling our water against the known dangers of this dirty drilling is a loser's proposition."
In addition to contaminating drinking water, fracking and its toxic waste poses myriad other threats to the environment and public health—including air pollution, land degradation, and global warming pollution, explained John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment Massachusetts, who testified at the hearing of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
Next week, Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center will release a report quantifying the damage fracking has imposed in other states so far.
“By sponsoring a ban on fracking, these legislators are standing tall against the oil and gas industry. And today, thousands of their constituents are standing with them,” Rumpler concluded.
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Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen-based environmental non-profit organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.environmentmassachusetts.org