Vermont to Outlaw Fracking
Fracking has become controversial over the past decade due to news reports of fracking operations contaminating wells with chemicals that have made residents sick and well-water flammable.
Natural gas lobbyists worked hard to prevent the bill from being passed, but sentiment among congressmen and the people of Vermont was too difficult to overcome.
Much of the controversy has been a result a 2005 Bush/Cheney Bill that exempted natural gas drilling operations from having to comply with the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, giving natural gas drillers the ability to not disclose the chemicals they use, and allowing the Environmental Protection Agency little jurisdiction over natural gas drilling operations.
As a result, many states have sought to fill the gap of governance. Both New York and Maryland have placed moratoriums on fracking, awaiting full environmental impact reports. And three states, Wyoming, Texas and Michigan, have passed legislation requiring natural gas drillers to disclose the chemicals used for their drilling operations.
More recently, Ohio Governor John Kasich is seeking to limit fracking wastewater dumping, after several earthquakes hit near Youngstown, OH. Scientists determined that the earthquakes were most likely caused by a fracking wastewater well 9,000 feet deep.
Earthquake associations aside, natural gas companies argue that they drill far below the water table levels, and their drill casings are tight enough to prevent the chemicals they use from contaminating wells. Their shale drilling operations will go up to 8,000 feet, while the water tables are typically about 1,000 feet. Environmental groups argue that cracks and leaks in the well casings contaminate wells.
According to experts, a natural gas drilling operation will utilize from one to eight million gallons of water with up to 300 tons of chemicals. Less than 50% of the water is recovered from the well. There can be more than 500 chemicals used in a horizontal fracking operation.
Some of these chemicals have been identified as VOCs – volatile organic compounds. VOCs are readily toxic to the environment and can cause major health disorders if consumed with either water or air. Others include rust-prevention and antimicrobial chemicals.
Written by Case Adams PhD