Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens Our Water, Health and Climate - Report

The United States is at the center of a high profile controversy over the threats posed by unconventional gas drilling, particularly surrounding the industry’s hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling techniques. Amidst the dirty energy industry’s rush to drill the last of America’s dwindling fossil fuel reserves, a growing number of independent scientists, politicians, environmental organizations and impacted citizens are urging the nation’s lawmakers to adopt a more cautious and informed approach to the fracked gas boom.

The oil and gas industry, however, is fighting back against calls for caution, suggesting that it has everything under control – much like it did prior to BP’s offshore drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a new report released today, “Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens Water, Health, and Climate,” DeSmogBlog details the concerns that scientists, cancer specialists, ecologists, investigative journalists and others have raised about the unconventional gas boom. Featuring original interviews and unpublicized reports, “Fracking The Future” delves into many of the key issues in the unconventional gas debate.

DeSmogBlog is calling for a nationwide moratorium on fracking, citing the fact that the potential impacts on water, health, and climate appear greater than previously understood. A moratorium is necessary to protect the public while fracking is studied much more thoroughly in order to determine if the risks of this practice outweigh the benefits. 

Additionally, since state regulators have failed to safeguard the public from the ill effects of gas fracking, federal health and safety officials must be empowered to hold the gas industry accountable for damage to public health, drinking water and the environment.

The report traces the massive industry lobbying efforts to confuse the public and stifle long-overdue federal oversight of the unconventional gas drilling bonanza. We review the sordid history of industry favoritism by the Bush administration, typified by the infamous Halliburton Loophole, which created a recipe for recklessness that has led to air and water contamination and drilling-related accidents.  But the prioritization of industry greed above public health and safety didn’t start there.

Since the Reagan era, those charged with protecting health and the environment have instead worked with the gas industry to minimize public awareness of its practices, and to hide the early warning signs regarding the inherent dangers of drilling deeper into the Earth for fossil fuels. State agencies have been pressured to accommodate the industry’s increasingly dangerous drilling techniques, and have largely enabled the poor, unmonitored practices common in the industry today.

The gas industry is investing millions of dollars each year to restrict oversight to the state level and thwart all federal involvement. The number of gas industry lobbyists has increased seven-fold in recent years, exhibiting the dangerous political sway the dirty energy industry exercises in Washington and at the local level across the nation.

Industry front groups like Energy in Depth (EID) play a pivotal role in the dissemination of misinformation and efforts to attack and silence those who attempt to call polluters to account.

Despite EID’s claims to represent small, independent “mom and pop” gas producers, internal industry documents uncovered by DeSmogBlog reveal that the group was created with seed funding from Big Oil multinationals. When communicating with its industry friends, EID continues to repeatedly tout the funding it receives from BP, Halliburton, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and other oil giants that certainly don’t fit the “mom and pop shop” characterization. 

With international attention focused on the U.S. experience with unconventional gas, “Fracking the Future” urges a cautious approach and much greater industry transparency.  The public deserves to know the true costs of fracked unconventional gas before allowing the oil and gas industry to carry on with its pursuit of this fossil fuel.

Read more: Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens Our Water, Health and Climate


Not just for all of us in Northern Pa,! The entire Delaware Watershed is under attack!
Thank You,
Patricia Bevill

Fracking is new, and misunderstood. Education of its benefits will help the public understand that this new, plentiful source of energy is a great benefit.

I certainly agree.. hoping for the success and public acceptance with this matter..

paul, marty - it will never BE publicly accepted because it is too dangerous - the facts speak for themselves. natural gas IS NOT WORTH IT!

most benefits are vastly exaggerated, and a lot of spokesmen for it tell blatant lies! i witnessed it first hand in Buffalo, ny during city council meetings on our local frack-ban. The activists who are out there every day and at home researching every night are far more educated and well spoken on the issue than any commercial or spokesman for the gas industry has been thus far.

pro-‘transitional’ fuel NGOs like the Environmental Defense Fund (now on Obama’s Dpt. of Energy Taskforce), NRDC, and the National Sierra Club. Your pulling punches to benefit our ‘environmentalist’ friends reveals a certain bias here.

Would be useful to the grassroots environmentalists that daily gets undermined by these groups as, for example, seems the case unless Senator Grisanti grows a pair, in New York State with a Water Withdrawal Bill which these orgs (minus EDF, but plus the Nature Conservancy and Audubon) and the Business Council and Chemical Association are pushing despite sound opposition from frontline enviros.

Also DSB never wrote about this

From the above comments I guess these people would prefer to send our money overseas to people who hate us rather than have a clean fuel to use for cars and trucks. The jobs available for extraction of gas and applying it to vehicles would do much to create jobs which are much more important to health then scaring people about some thing that someone thinks may have a chance of happening. Thousands of these wells have been drilled over many years.

It seems less confusing now more so since I have been reading more about
the process. Seems to me that it would indeed effect the water table with leaking gases. I would also think that the fluid involved would permeate the ground surrounding and eventually get into the water supply and enviroment. There is no way to really prevent this and no amount of science could possibly support the idea of fracking as being safe. I am a person who has been called a scientist, However the first thing I was told even in highschool is the FIRST RULE. That is….. That a scientist observes and reports the truth and facts first be it good or bad. Have things changed since I was in school.