DOGGR hasn’t considered fracking risks, health concerns, lawsuit claims.

Posted in: Fracking, Water Contamination
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Article courtesy of Californian Children | December 10, 2012 | Shared as educational material

In mid-October, the nonprofit law firm, Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Alameda County, charging that the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), the state agency that has the responsibility to regulate oil and gas well activity, “has failed to consider or evaluate the risks of hydraulic fracturing, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA),” according to Environmental News Service.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, is a procedure used to extract deposits of oil and gas from depleted wells or from geologic formations where conventional drilling is ineffective. Millions of gallons of water mixed with toxic chemicals are injected down each well at high pressure, fracturing the underground rock formations, forcing the oil or gas to the surface. Fracking has been used in California for more than 50 years. The Western States Petroleum Association estimates that more than 600 California wells were fracked in 2011.Fracking is also associated with large releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas…

Although DOGGR is the state agency charged with regulating all oil and gas well activity in California, the agency admits it has not permitted or monitored its impacts and has never formally evaluated the potential environmental and health effects of the practice, even as it continues to approve new permits for oil and gas wells, the plaintiff groups say in their statement announcing the lawsuit…

Earthjustice attorney George Torgun said, “Right now, the people of California don’t know where or when the drillers are fracking, what chemicals they are using, what pollutants they’re releasing into the air and water, and what other risks they are taking. That’s because the state hasn’t required them to disclose any information on fracking activities.”

In the lawsuit, Earthjustice contends that there are “significant environmental and public health impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing,” including the contamination of domestic and agricultural water supplies, the use of massive amounts of water, the emission of hazardous air pollutants, and the potential for induced earthquake activity…

Last month, Kari Birdseye, the national press secretary for Earthjustice, interviewed Sandra Steingraber, a New York ecologist, a poet, and the author of the 2011 book, Raising Elijah, which addressed the challenge of raising healthy children in an environment filled with toxic chemicals.

… the bedrock above which I live here in New York is the Marcellus Shale. It turns out to be the motherload of methane in the United States. And so now we are targeted by the fracking industry that wants to tunnel into it, blow it apart, using water along with a lot of toxic chemicals to get these bubbles of methane out. But what comes up with the methane—which is what natural gas is—are also other volatile hydrocarbons like ethane. And to use up that waste product, we are now planning to build an ethylene cracker north of Pittsburgh so that all the waste products from fracking operations can be turned into stuff, like more plastic. Not because we have a human need for more plastic, but because it solves this waste disposal problem. And of course, the oceans become the final depository for plastic. This gets into the fish that we eat and is a menace to the whole food chain…Last year when I became the lucky recipient of a Heinz Award for my research and writing on environmental health, it came with a $100,000 cash prize, and that became the seed money for this coalition,New Yorkers Against Fracking, which is now a coalition of more than 180 different groups and 1,000 different businesses. So we seek to close the door on a form of extreme fossil fuel extraction here in New York. And, if we have luck and hard work and victory then we seek to transform New York State into a kind of incubator and a showcase for renewable energy and for sustainable forms of agriculture and new kinds of materials that we can use in our homes and in our economy.

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