The Public Needs Protection From Fracking Dangers

Aug. 15, 2011

The Public Needs Protection From Fracking Dangers

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Note: Public Citizen sent comments today to the U.S. Department of Energy regarding the agency’s report to develop best practices when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. 

Public Citizen today urged a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) task force to prioritize the safety of water resources at contamination risk from hydraulic fracturing. Among the solutions Public Citizen proposed is repeal of the various exemptions the natural gas industry has received from federal environmental laws; the denial of drilling companies’ “proprietary” right to keep secret the identity of toxic materials they inject underground and an emphasis on improved outreach to affected communities.

The DOE’s Natural Gas Subcommittee should enact procedures to prevent water contamination around abandoned fracking wells, which has happened as fracking fluid and other contaminants have seeped into the groundwater. The public needs to be protected from chemically compromised water.

Just as worrisome, the hydraulic fracturing industry is exempted from elements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. The subcommittee should persuade Congress to repeal these special exemptions, which limit the federal government’s ability to ensure that protection of water resources is prioritized.

The subcommittee also should make every effort to include the input of the people whose lives will be affected by fracking policies, instead of holding 75 percent of the public meetings in Washington, D.C. The public needs a voice in policies that will have an enormous impact on their homes, their water and their safety.

The DOE subcommittee and Congress should work together to ensure the health and safety of the public and the environment.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.