FYI, Midland Reporter-Telegam, fracking isn’t safe

Sharon Wilson's avatar
By Sharon Wilson

October 26, 2017

Note: the below letter to the editor was submitted on October 17th but has not been published. We added the link to the UTA study today, 10/31, the day we published it on EARTHblog.

To the editor (of the Midland Reporter-Telegram):

Steve Everley of Texans for Natural Gas in his October 14th oped made some stale, yet still outrageous claims regarding the safety of fracking-enabled oil and gas development.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study referenced by Everley lists hundreds of instances where hydraulic fracturing polluted drinking water.

“Data gaps” prevented EPA from fully assessing the systemic severity and frequency of impacts but it identified “certain conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe.”

These “data gaps” exist because industry obstructs government data gathering about health impacts. And because industry, as a condition of compensating families they’ve harmed, routinely silences those families with legally binding non-disclosure agreements (NDA).

For example, before Aruba Petroleum drilled the Ruggiero’s Wise County property, the Ruggieros obtained a baseline water test showing their drinking water was clean. After fracking, follow-up testing found their water unsafe with very high levels of toxic fracking chemicals.

Aruba subsequently required a NDA to purchase the Ruggiero’s home -- which was now unlivable and whose value had dropped precipitously -- and offer a settlement.

Susan Sullivan’s well water foamed like dishwater after a company admitted using surfactants (soap) when fracking a well near her house. Testing found MBAS, a surfactant, in Susan’s water.

Using her garden hose, she wrote HELP in the foam, a YouTube video plea to the EPA. A lighter held to the water’s surface produced waxy plastic bits she could pick up.

Susan is gagged under a non-disclosure agreement, too.

How many non-disclosure agreements exist and how much data the oil and gas industry is hiding from the public is unknown.

In sum, thanks to the oil and gas industry’s widespread and systemic misinformation tactics we don’t know if fracking’s water pollution is widespread and systemic across the United States. But thanks to a University of Texas, Arlington study -- in addition to experiences like the Sullivan's and the Ruggiero's -- we do know fracking is unsafe, widesread and systemically, in Texas.

Sharon Wilson, Senior Organizer
Earthworks Oil & Gas Accountability Project

Tagged with: non-disclosure agreement, fracking, drinking water

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