*** 6.8.09 UPDATE – URGENT ACTION ALERT ***
Now is the time to let Congress know that they must repeal the oil and gas industry’s expemtions from the Safe Drinking Water Act, and that they must include protections for private drinking wells. Call or fax your congressperson soon (there may be a vote as early as Tuesday 6/9/09). Industry is pressuring Congress now – so must we!!
* HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY & COMMERCE-NY MEMBERS:
Eliot L. Engel
Tel:(202)225-2464 Fax: (202)225-5513
Anthony D. Weiner
Committee Chair: Henry A. Waxman
Tel: (202)225-3976 Fax: (202)225-4099
Maurice Hinchey (22nd District) – Hinchey is a co-sponsor, but tell him to INCLUDE protection for private water wells too
Tel: (202)225-6335 Fax: (202)226-0774
Michael Arcuri (24th District)
Tel: (202)225-3665 Fax: (202)756-2472
Eric Massa (29th District)
Tel: (202)225-3161 Fax: (202)226-6599
The following letter was written by Susan Multer to send to friends across the country, many of whom know nothing about gas drilling. She welcomes our using it or revising it to send to our friends as well.
Very soon a bill will be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that is critical to our health. It will repeal the exemption given to the oil and gas industry in 2005 from the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (see below). Although the bill doesn’t have a number yet, the industry is already lobbying hard against it, saying any further regulation will cost jobs and make us more dependent on foreign oil. They fail to note that without this regulation our health is at stake.
The bill will be referred to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, members of which are listed below. If your state has one or more Representatives on that committee, your help is first needed to get the bill moved favorably out of committee and onto the floor of the House for a vote. Please fax a short letter to each committee member from your state as well as to your own Congressman/woman, urging co-sponsorship of the bill and pushing for its passage.
Those of you whose state has no one serving on the committee can go ahead and write your Representative now, asking for co-sponsorship of the pending bill to repeal the exemption. Letters sent by US mail take too long because they have to be checked for anthrax; emails may not get recorded or counted, plus they look like they are organization-generated. So please send a fax or make a phone call. A fact sheet from four major environmental organizations working on this issue is attached.
Please understand that unlike traditional vertical drilling, the high-pressure, horizontal hydraulic fracturing (aka hydrofracking) of shale, sandstone or coal beds requires, per well, hundreds of heavy trucks to carry millions of gallons of fresh water (never to be returned to its source) across county and town roads to a 3- to 5-acre well pad. Then chemicals (some toxic, including endocrine disruptors) are added to the fresh water and forced under very high pressure down the well to break up the formation to free the gas.
After the fracking is finished, much of the toxic waste stays underground where it can travel. Much comes up in even more toxic form because heavy metals and radon are picked up in the process. This “produced water” has often been pumped into open, plastic-lined evaporation pits which pollute the air 24/7 and pollute the soil and water when the plastic leaks or the pond floods. An alternative is to transport (with the risk of leaks and spills) the toxic waste to a dry well and inject it back into the ground for storage (and possible leaks). Traditional water treatment facilities cannot handle this industrial waste because the energy companies won’t reveal its contents. (The chemicals we know about are from samples taken after above-ground accidents out west).
Since the gas released from these formations is not under much pressure, diesel pumps may be run at the surface day and night, sounding like an idling semi-truck. Since hydrofracking can be repeated several times, the life of the well may be more than twenty years. While risk of air and water pollution increases, quality of life and resale value of property decrease, sometimes down to zero. Just ask a realtor in an area where leases have been signed.
If hydrofracking were as safe as the industry claims it is, there would be no need for an exemption, and repeal of it would not be of concern. What we are not being told is that there have been unacceptable levels of hydrogen sulfide in Alabama, ground-level ozone in the open spaces of Colorado, cattle dropping dead in Louisiana, industrialization of the landscape in Wyoming, a house blown off its foundation in Ohio, contamination of water wells in Pennsylvania and cases of fires in faucets, fish kills, goats and mares being unable to reproduce, people losing their hearing and some developing brain lesions. What links these tragedies together is that all have occurred on properties near hydraulic fracturing.
You can learn more from www.ogap.org, www.endocrinedisruption.org, and www.propublica.org/feature/natural-gas-politics-526. You can see interviews with people negatively affected at www.damascuscitizens.org. But you don’t have to in order to speak up on this subject. The bottom line is simply this: to not regulate the oil and gas industry the way all others are regulated with respect to the Safe Drinking Water Act is unconscionable. For the health and safety of everyone, please take action to repeal the exemption now.
ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005
Public Law 109-58
Title III — Oil and Gas
Subtitle C — Production
SEC. 322. HYDRAULIC FRACTURING.
Paragraph (1) of section 1421(d) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300h(d)) is amended to read as follows:
“(1) Underground injection.–The term ‘underground injection’–
“(A) means the subsurface emplacement of fluids by well injection; and
“(i) the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage; and
“(ii) the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.
US House Committee on Energy and Commerce
AR Mike Ross
AZ John B. Shadegg
CA Lois Capps
Anna G. Eshoo
Mary Bono Mack
Doris O. Matsui
Henry A. Waxman, Chair
CO Diana DeGette
CT Christopher S. Murphy
FL Kathy Castor
GA John Barrow
IA Bruce L. Braley
IL Bobby L. Rush
IN Steve Buyer
Baron P. Hill
KY Ed Whitfield
LA Charlie Melancon
MA Edward J. Markey
MD John P. Sarbanes
MI John D. Dingell, Chair Emeritus
MO Roy Blunt
NC G. K. Butterfield
Sue Wilkins Myrick
NE Lee Terry
NJ Frank Pallone, Jr.
NY Eliot L. Engel
Anthony D. Weiner
OH Zachary T. Space
OK John Sullivan
OR Greg Walden
PA Mike Doyle
Joseph R. Pitts
TN Marsha Blackburn
TX Joe Barton, Ranking Member
Michael C. Burgess
Ralph M. Hall
UT Jim Matheson
VA Rick Boucher
VI Donna M. Christensen
VT Peter Welch
WA Jay Inslee
WI Tammy Baldwin