Pennsylvanians Are Fracked
For a while, it looked like you would only be in deep trouble if you lived in pristine rural Pennsylvania and had a natural gas company set up a “fracking” operation next to or on your land, contaminating your groundwater with chemicals so that your tap water actually caught fire.
But now all Pennsylvanians have an equal opportunity, since the companies are being allowed to dump millions of gallons of barely treated water into streams and rivers as well. Now, all Pennsylvanians can drink water contaminated by a toxic soup of fracking chemicals.
The natural gas boom gripping parts of the United States has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, that most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep.
But not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush. In Pennsylvania, the liquid that gushes from gas wells is only partially treated for substances that could be environmentally harmful, then dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.
In the two years since the frenzy of activity began in the vast underground rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania has been the only state letting its waterways serve as the primary disposal place for huge amounts of wastewater produced by a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. State regulators, initially caught flat-footed, tightened the rules this year for any new water treatment plants, but let existing operations continue discharging water into rivers.
More on the issue of fracking:
- Interior Department on the right track on fracking, but some Members of Congress get it wrong
- Putting the Brakes on Natural Gas Fracking
- First State to Address Dangers of Fracking: Wyoming