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Campaign Update

Fracking Unleashed: New Drilling Boom Imperils America’s Glacier National Park © Tim Fitzharris; gas well © Linda F. Baker/Upper Green River Alliance; bobcat © Konrad Wothe/Minden Pictures; White River National Forest © Laurence Parent; fracking flare © Robert Donnan; George Washington National Forest © Charles Gurche

NRDC Calls for Fracking Moratorium to Protect Public Lands and Drinking Water for Millions



drilling rights. Those rules not only t’s a shocking figure: Some 15.3 million Americans — more than allow fracking next to national parks the population of Ohio, Pennsylvania and inside national forests, but also or Illinois — now live within a single permit it alongside drinking water mile of a fracking well. That’s according supplies for tens of millions of Americans. “With each successive round of revisions, to a recent analysis by The Wall Street the BLM rules have gotten weaker Journal, which charted the explosive and weaker,” says Amy Mall, a senior growth of this dangerous form of energy extraction over the past decade. policy analyst at NRDC. “You can see This surprisingly large number reflects the fingerprints of the oil and gas industry all over this process.” Indeed, the enormous extent of the fracking the latest rules fail to address even boom unleashed on Americans by the oil and gas industry — but it tells only some of the most dangerous industry practices. They do not, for example, part of the story. From coast to coast, set a minimum distance between fracking fracking is taking a devastating toll on local residents, with once-idyllic commu­ operations and homes or schools, nor nities turned into industrial zones where 10-story drill rigs operate day and night and seemingly endless convoys of diesel trucks thunder down local roads. Yet even amid mounting reports of contaminated water supplies Colorado’s White River National Forest — and and rising air pollution, wildlife like bobcats — would suffer from the Obama Administration proposed fracking. has failed to curb the environ­mental and health threats posed do they bar oil and gas companies by fracking, in which massive amounts from storing millions of gallons of of water and sand mixed with hazardous contaminated wastewater in open-air chemicals are pumped into the earth pits prone to overflow or rupture. to break apart rock and release oil and “The administration is basically rolling gas deposits. out the welcome mat to the oil and gas A flagrant example of the administration’s industry,” says Sharon Buccino, director laissez-faire approach: The Bureau of of NRDC’s Land and Wildlife Program. Land Management (BLM) recently “No region of the country will escape. proposed new rules to regulate fracking The George Washington National on our public lands and millions of Forest in Virginia — that’s the source acres of private property for which of drinking water for all of Washington, D.C. The White River National the federal government controls the

Forest in Colorado — it’s the largest source of freshwater for the upper Colorado River, which provides drinking water to 30 million people downstream. Ohio’s Wayne National Forest — drinking water for four entire counties. Los Padres National Forest in California. The list goes on and on.” Not even our national parks are immune to the ravages of nearby fracking. Newly drilled wells in Montana are already visible from Glacier National Park, and the “front door” to Glacier has been proposed for major indus­trialization, according to the National Parks Conservation Asso­ciation. In Wyoming, oil and gas development near Grand Teton National Park is fragmenting the habitat that pronghorn and other species need outside the park for migration. Meanwhile, the fracking boom in North Dakota has been linked to spikes in air pollution in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and flares from gas rigs are despoiling what was once one of the darkest night skies in the national park system. “We must hold President Obama accountable here,” says NRDC President Frances Beinecke. “He made a promise last year in his State of the Union address to develop America’s natural gas resources ‘without putting the health

Nature's Voice Winter 2014  

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