Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ban fracking

Posted on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 4:00 AM

I am a native Montanan who now lives in Arizona. I visit close relatives across Montana nearly every summer and am extremely concerned that my very favorite place, Glacier National Park, will soon suffer the impacts of hydraulic fracturing. According to a local paper near the park, the Hungry Horse News, 70 wells have already been drilled on reservation land surrounding the park and environmental assessments have been prepared to soon drill 88 more.

This will result in undrinkable water (that actually ignites when lit because of high amounts of benzene in the water!) in the areas near the park and perhaps in the park itself. The water, soil, plant life and living things near the wells cannot survive—the damage is irreversible. I would encourage anyone questioning these facts to view the documentaries Gasland and Split Estate. When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which encourages new natural gas exploration in the U.S., the legislation made oil and gas companies exempt from following the policies of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Oil companies do not have to divulge which toxic chemicals they use to extract the gas from the shale.

These chemicals are brought, along with the escaping gas, to the surface and into the air, water and lungs of humans and animals near drilling sites—and the sites are present in almost every state in the United States! The gas is present in streams, soil and ground water. The contaminated ground water has been analyzed and contains 596 toxic chemicals. According to Dr. Theo Colborn, who has done extensive research, these chemicals cause asthma, skin and organ problems and irreversible brain damage.

Companies also can legally, without notice, drill on private land if the land owners have mineral rights. The negative health effects on humans and animals are serious, and we can only guess what the environmental impacts will be in most of the U.S. where fracking has left its scars, because there have been no government studies done to date that are accurate.

Toxins such as benzene, which when used in the fracking process is 40 times above government standards, will leach into the streams, ground water and air in areas surrounding the park and into the park itself, doing permanent damage to the environment. This in effect creates a “dead zone” much like that of the area around Pavillion, Wyo. (an area that was heavily contaminated from chemicals used in fracking).

If you care about clean water in your great state, please write your legislator to immediately ban fracking in western Montana and anywhere else you value. Don’t let the big companies destroy the Last Best Place!

Deborah Fleming

Scottsdale, Arizona

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