Last Tuesday, President Obama took the stage at Georgetown University and proclaimed that his administration would promote the expansion of toxic fracking in radioactive shale not just at home but across the globe. His plan to simply replace one form of dirty energy with another (in this case natural gas) is not only counterproductive in regards to climate change; it unfairly places the cost of the response to the climate crisis on the shoulders of Americans living the shalefields.
And Obama is recommending that we go all in with fracking just as the data is starting to show there is a fatal flaw in the process that puts our rural communities at risk of contaminated ground water. The Department of Environmental Protection recently confirmed that there have been at least 161 cases of water contamination due to drilling and fracking in the Commonwealth. With 6,000 wells drilled, nearly 1,000 homeowners have petitioned the DEP with complaints of water contamination. A recent Duke University study shows that homes within one kilometer of a gas well showed concentrations of methane six times higher than average. Ethane in those nearby homes was 23 times above that of homes farther away. Ten homes also showed levels of propane. It is true that there are natural sources of methane in shallow wells that have nothing to do with fracking. For example microbes produce methane as they break down organic matter. Methane produced in this fashion is made up of lighter isotopes. Isotope analysis done in the Duke study showed heavier gases indicating they come from the Marcellus Formation. The presence of ethane and propane also rule out microbes as the source. Biological sources of methane do not produce either of the compounds.
We know that the President met with industry leaders and CEOs while preparing his climate change policy. I am asking that he meet with the scientists that have studied the flaws of the process and the families that have been affected by it before he put his ill-advised plan into place. The only real way to transition into a clean energy future is to maximize renewable energies and efficiency by deploying new fossil-free technologies.