Tag Archives: Fracking

Kids Born Near Fracking Sites 2-3 Times More Likely to Develop Leukemia: Study

Exposure to fracking and its effects is “a major public health concern,” said a study co-author.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 8-17-2022 by Common Dreams

An oil rig is couched between a field of celery and broccoli near Santa Maria, CA. Photo: Faces of Fracking/flickr/CC

Adding further evidence of the negative public health impacts associated with planet-heating fossil fuel pollution, new research published Wednesday found that children living in close proximity to fracking and other so-called “unconventional” drilling operations at birth face significantly higher chances of developing childhood leukemia than those not residing near such activity.

The peer-reviewed study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, examined the relationship between residential proximity to unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD) and risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood leukemia. Continue reading

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Biden Accused of Lighting Fuse for ‘One of the Nation’s Biggest Carbon Bombs’

“This is pouring another 5 billion gallons of oil on the fire every year and bulldozing a national forest in the process,” said one critic. “It’s a horrifying step in the wrong direction.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 7-7-2022 by Common Dreams

An oil trai outside Essex, Montana. Photo: Roy Luck/flickr/CC

The Biden administration came under fire this week after paving the way for an oil railway that its own projections suggest would increase planet-heating pollution in the United States by almost 1%.

President Joe Biden “should be doing everything in his power to respond to the climate emergency, but he’s about to light one of the nation’s biggest carbon bombs,” Deeda Seed, a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, said Wednesday in a statement. Continue reading

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US Mobilization Planned to Demand ‘Livable, Just, and Healthy Planet for All’

“We’ve already waited too long to enact reforms that address this climate emergency,” said the co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “Our federal government must act now.”

By Jessica Corbett  Published 4-21-2022 by Common Dreams

The Climate Strike and march in Pittsburgh on 9/24/21. Photo: Mark Dixon/flickr/CC

Over 20 advocacy organizations are planning a nationwide “Fight for Our Future” mobilization for Saturday to demand climate action from the Biden administration and Congress.

On the heels of Earth Day, demonstrators plan to gather in Washington, D.C., and communities across the United States to reiterate the necessity of pursuing bold policies to combat the fossil-fueled planetary emergency, citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released earlier this month. Continue reading

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Biden Takes ‘Critical First Step’ to Fix Landmark Environmental Law Gutted by Trump

“The Biden administration cannot stop here,” said one advocate, calling on the White House “to ensure we tap NEPA’s full potential to address the unprecedented environmental challenges we face now.”

By Jessica Corbett  Published 4-19-2022 by Common Dreams

While welcoming the White House’s move Tuesday to repair some of the damage that the Trump administration did to a federal law known as “the Magna Carta of environmental legislation,” green groups also urged President Joe Biden to go even further.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) finalized its “phase 1” rule for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), reaffirming that federal agencies reviewing infrastructure projects such as highways and pipelines must consider all relevant environmental impacts, including those that are climate-related. Continue reading

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Rebellious Climate Scientists Have Message for Humanity: ‘Mobilize, Mobilize, Mobilize’

In face of the “escalating climate emergency,” the advocacy group Scientist Rebellion warns that IPCC summary to global policymakers remains “alarmingly reserved, docile, and conservative.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 4-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Scientists in the Netherlands blocked an entrance to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy in The Hague on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Scientist Rebellion / @ScientistRebel1)

Amid a weeklong global civil disobedience campaign to demand climate action commensurate with mounting evidence about the need for swift decarbonization, Scientist Rebellion is highlighting specific gaps between what experts say is necessary and what governments allowed to be published in a summary of the United Nations’ latest climate assessment.

The landmark report on mitigation by Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—part of the U.N.’s sixth comprehensive climate assessment since 1992 and possibly the last to be published with enough time to avert the most catastrophic consequences of the planetary crisis—was compiled by 278 researchers from 65 countries. Continue reading

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Biggest Oil Giants Made ‘Eye-Popping’ $205 Billion in Profits in 2021: Report

Now, fossil fuel giants are trying to “cash in on inflation and the crisis in Ukraine,” said one critic.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 3-15-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Thomas | Mutch Games/Twitter

While millions of working people have been hurt by surging gas prices, a new analysis out Tuesday shows that 25 of the world’s biggest fossil fuel corporations collectively pulled in an “eye-popping” $205 billion in profits last year—and Big Oil is exploiting Russia’s war on Ukraine to charge even more at the pump in 2022 and advance its financial interests.

According to a new report from government watchdog Accountable.US, top oil and gas companies took “full advantage” of last year’s sky-high prices and record profits. Fourteen firms rewarded shareholders with more than $35 billion in stock buybacks and dividend bumps. Continue reading

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‘Monstrous’ Methane Plume Seen From Space Highlights Invisible Fracking Dangers

“While this event is particularly severe, Louisiana is already forced to live through an exorbitant amount of pollution daily from fossil fuel and petrochemical plants.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 2-16-2022 by Common Dreams

A satellite image shows a plume of methane stretching across much of Louisiana on January 21, 2022. (Image: Kayrros SAS)

Environmental justice advocates on Wednesday pointed to a methane plume so large it was seen last month from space via satellite as the latest evidence that emissions of the potent fossil fuel must be reined in.

As Bloomberg reported Monday, the geoanalytics firm Kayrros SAS detected the plume of the invisible greenhouse gas, which spanned 56 miles and covered several parishes across Louisiana, on January 21. Continue reading

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US Lawmakers With Pipeline Stocks Profit as Gas Exports to Europe Soar

“Members of Congress who own stock in pipeline companies like Enterprise Products stand to profit from the push to export liquid fossil gas amid Russia-Ukraine tensions,” according to a new investigation.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 2-10-2022 by Common Dreams

The LNG taker Rivers arrives in Brest. Photo: Pline/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, which could have far-reaching implications for energy markets in central Europe, U.S. President Joe Biden has increased gas exports to Germany and surrounding countries, benefiting members of Congress who own—and are buying up more—stock in pipeline and tanker companies.

That’s according to new reporting published Wednesday by the nonprofit investigative outlet Sludge, which previously identified at least 28 U.S. senators and 100 House members whose households own stock in oil and gas companies or hold other investments in the fossil fuel industry. Continue reading

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‘This Is a Scandal’: Documents Reveal Obama’s EPA Approved Toxic Chemicals for Fracking in 2011

“We still don’t know the full extent of toxic chemicals that companies are using in their fracking operations. Why is the EPA allowing them to poison our communities without consequence?”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-12-2021

A fracking rig behind a housing development Photo: WildEarth Guardians/flickr/CC

Between 2012 and 2020, fossil fuel corporations injected potentially carcinogenic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or chemicals that can degrade into PFAS, into the ground while fracking for oil and gas, after former President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency approved their use despite agency scientists’ concerns about toxicity.

The EPA’s approval in 2011 of three new compounds for use in oil and gas drilling or fracking that can eventually break down into PFAS, also called “forever chemicals,” was not publicized until Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) obtained internal records from the agency through a Freedom of Information Act request, the New York Times reported Monday after reviewing the files.

According to PSR’s new reportFracking with “Forever Chemicals, oil and gas companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and others engaged in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have since 2012 pumped toxic chemicals that can form PFAS into more than 1,200 wells in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming.

While the Times noted that the newly released documents constitute some of the earliest evidence of the possible presence of PFAS in fracking fluids, PSR’s report warns that “the lack of full disclosure of chemicals used in oil and gas operations raises the potential that PFAS could have been used even more extensively than records indicate, both geographically and in other stages of the oil and gas extraction process, such as drilling, that precede the underground injections known as fracking.”

“It’s very disturbing to see the extent to which critical information about these chemicals is shielded from public view,” Barbara Gottlieb, PSR’s Environment & Health Program director, said Monday in a press release. “The lack of transparency about fracking chemicals puts human health at risk.”

As the Times reported:

In a consent order issued for the three chemicals on Oct. 26, 2011, EPA scientists pointed to preliminary evidence that, under some conditions, the chemicals could “degrade in the environment” into substances akin to PFOA, a kind of PFAS chemical, and could “persist in the environment” and “be toxic to people, wild mammals, and birds.” The EPA scientists recommended additional testing. Those tests were not mandatory and there is no indication that they were carried out.

“The EPA identified serious health risks associated with chemicals proposed for use in oil and gas extraction, and yet allowed those chemicals to be used commercially with very lax regulation,” Dusty Horwitt, a researcher at PSR, told the newspaper.

In a statement released Monday, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, called the PSR report “alarming,” and said it “confirms what hundreds of scientific studies and thousands of pages of data have already shown over the last decade: fracking is inherently hazardous to the health and safety of people and communities in proximity to it, and it should be banned entirely.”

As PSR notes, PFAS—highly potent toxins that accumulate in the body and persist in the environment—pose a threat to human and environmental well-being. Negative health effects linked to PFAS include low infant birth weights, disruptions of the immune and reproductive systems, and cancer.

“The potential that these chemicals are being used in oil and gas operations should prompt regulators to take swift action to investigate the extent of this use, pathways of exposure, and whether people are being harmed,” said Linda Birnbaum, board-certified Ph.D. toxicologist and former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Hauter added that “this says nothing of the dreadful impact fossil fuel extraction and burning is having on our runaway climate crisis. Fracking threatens every person on the planet, directly or indirectly.”

According to the Times:

In a 2016 report, the EPA identified more than 1,600 chemicals used in drilling and fracking, or found in fracking wastewater, including close to 200 that were deemed carcinogens or toxic to human health. The same EPA report warned that fracking fluid could escape from drill sites into the groundwater and that leaks could spring from underground wells that store millions of gallons of wastewater.

Communities near drilling sites have long complained of contaminated water and health problems that they say are related. The lack of disclosure on what sort of chemicals are present has hindered diagnoses or treatment. Various peer-reviewed studies have found evidence of illnesses and other health effects among people living near oil and gas sites, a disproportionate burden of which fall on people of color and other underserved or marginalized communities.

“The Obama-Biden administration approved the use of toxic PFAS chemicals for fracking a decade ago,” said Hauter, “and all these years later, President Joe Biden’s practices haven’t seemed to change a bit.”

“The Biden administration has claimed to be concerned about PFAS contamination throughout the country,” Hauter said. “Biden himself pledged during the campaign to halt new fracking on federal lands. Meanwhile, this administration is approving new fracking permits at a pace similar to Trump, with no letup in sight.”

Earlier this month, whistleblowers at the EPA accused the Biden administration of continuing the “war on science,” with managers at the agency allegedly modifying reports about the risks posed by chemicals and retaliating against employees who report the misconduct.

As Common Dreams reported, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a formal complaint on behalf of four scientists with the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, demanding an investigation into reports that high-level employees routinely delete crucial information from chemical risk assessments or change the documents’ conclusions to give the impression that the chemicals in question are safer.

Calling Monday’s revelations about the Obama administration’s decision to greenlight the use of PFAS in fracking “a scandal that should lead every nightly news program,” Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org and director of Fossil Free Media, noted that “we still don’t know the full extent of toxic chemicals that companies are using in their fracking operations.”

“Why is the EPA allowing them to poison our communities without conscience?” he asked.

Hauter called on Biden “to immediately make good on his promise to halt new fracking on federal lands,” adding that “his administration must take urgent action to contain the use of PFAS chemicals and their deadly spread into our water and our communities.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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House Passes Resolution to Reverse ‘Reckless’ Trump-Era Methane Rule

“Biden should direct the EPA to use the full power of the Clean Air Act to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas by 65% by 2025,” said one advocate.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-25-2021

Gas well flaring in the Marcelus Shale. Screenshot: YouTube

Progressive advocates celebrated the U.S. House’s passage Friday of a resolution to reinstate federal regulations on methane pollution, while also emphasizing that confronting the climate emergency requires implementing stronger safeguards.

The resolution reversed the Trump administration’s rollback last August of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules governing oil and gas companies’ emissions of the potent greenhouse gas. Continue reading

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