Tell the Administration: No Fracking on Federal Lands

May 30, 2013

A few weeks ago, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released draft rules for hydraulic fracturing—also known as fracking—on federal lands. [Press release and 171-page draft rules]. These rules are too lax and won’t do nearly enough to protect from harm the people who live around these fracking sites.

Take action today to tell the BLM that these rules are too lax. Read about the draft rules below, and find a suggested comment at the end of this article. Then, write to the BLM.

This new BLM rule would cover fracking on public lands, “including millions of acres of wild landscapes and private property where the federal government owns mineral rights. An enormous amount of land is involved, but also water.” [NRDC].

These weak rules need to be strengthened in order to protect the water supply for millions around the country. Dozens of communities including Santa Barbara, CA; Denver, CO; and Washington, DC live downstream of public lands where fracking already occurs, or could soon.

The effects of fracking on our drinking water are ugly. The National Resources Defense Council tells about how “homeowners have shown me jugs of water from their kitchen sinks that look like rusty mud. One man said he could light his tap water on fire after energy companies put a drill pad in his neighborhood. Others tell me they worry their water is causing health problems for their families.” [Source].

These new draft rules affect everyone around the country. Near already-big fracking sites, “residents see wastewater pits leak, smell chemicals in the air, or read the scientific research showing that fracking can contaminate water supplies and pose a host of other threats. No one should have to live with these dangers: we all want to keep our drinking water safe from dangerous chemicals and reckless industrial activity.” [NRDC].

When it comes to keeping our air and water clean, we should be able to count on the government to protect us from the oil and gas industry. But so far, the states have proven unable or unwilling to create or enforce strict rules to protect our health. The NRDC argues that only about half of the 30 states with fracking, for instance, require companies to report which chemicals they use in fracking fluids. In most states with disclosure rules, “companies can withhold information they deem confidential without any justification or oversight.” [Source].

The situation at the federal level hasn’t been a model of excellence, either. The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act have all had exemptions carved out by the oil and gas industry, making all of us less safe and less healthy.

Now, on top of all of this, comes this latest proposed draft rule from the BLM. There are alternatives. The BLM “could exempt huge tracts of state and tribal lands from the safeguards. They offer only weak chemical disclosure requirements that would make it hard for homeowners or medical professionals to find out all the chemicals being used in fracking operations. And they ignore key areas of health and environmental concern like the huge wastewater pits have been known to leak toxic and radioactive materials.” [NRDC].

So let’s decide that, this time, we’re not going to let the oil and gas industry pollute our water and our lands as much as they please. Write to the BLM today to tell them what you think of the proposed draft rules. Feel free to write your own comment, or use the suggested text below.

The latest draft rule from the BLM about hydraulic fracturing on federal lands is deeply disappointing. Rather than protect families from the chemical run-off from fracking, which have been proven harmful, the BLM has chosen to carve out more exemptions for the oil and gas industry. The BLM should revise the draft rule to prohibit fracking on federal lands.

It has become clear that there is no safe way to frack. The water supply is polluted; more natural gas drilled simply is burned and goes on to pollute our atmosphere. Earthquakes have been reported near fracking sites—places that had never before experienced earthquakes. People are now able to set their tap water on fire—that is, when it doesn’t come out of the tap a muddy, rust color.

The BLM should require disclosure by companies of the chemicals used during fracking. The effects to humans of these chemicals should be discovered by these companies and should be made available to people who live around the fracking sites and to their doctors.

Lastly, the BLM should under no circumstances expand the area in which it is permissible to frack. Refuse to allow fracking on federal lands and, in exchange, stand up for the right of all of us to enjoy clean drinking water, clean air, and clean neighborhoods and federal lands.

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