OSFR Op-Ed Published in Tallahassee Democrat

TallahasseeDem

OSFR is grateful to the Tallahassee Democrat and especially Editor Randi Atwood for accepting our editorial on very short notice.  We appreciate what you do for our environment and our community!  Read the original article at this link.ScrollWhat’s so bad about fracking? Let us count the ways

Besides leaking methane under and above ground, which makes people sick (ask Los Angeles), wasting millions of gallons of valuable water (ask California), causing earthquakes (ask Oklahoma), contaminated waste water no one wants, explosions that kill people (ask lots of places), there is one more big effect of fracking: undisclosed toxic chemicals put into our earth.

Yes, the oil companies are allowed to inject proven carcinogens into or adjacent to our underground drinking water resources. How can the EPA allow this? Witness the power of money and politics.

The EPA is supposed to protect our drinking water as per the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, and in 1997 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ordered regulation specific to fracking. The EPA immediately began a study of fracking and drinking water pollution.

Enter Vice President Dick Cheney, who in 2001 convened a special task force on energy, which dutifully recommended to Congress that hydraulic fracking be exempt from the SDWA. Due to political influence from Haliburton and infamous Enron founder Kenneth Lay, the study found no dangers from fracking.

Then the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 wrote in an exemption, which we now call the “Haliburton Loophole,” that releases the industry from requirements in the underground injection control program of the SDWA and other EPA protections, namely the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Some states have regulations on fracking, but almost never do they require companies to disclose the chemicals. Neither do companies have to monitor water quality when they drill near drinking water resources.

The current bills in our Florida legislation purport to “regulate” fracking, but as one representative stated, it is nothing more than a “welcome mat” to promote fracking. One of the sponsors of the bills, when asked why fracking should not be banned in Florida, answered that fracking in Florida made our country more secure. That’s a ridiculous answer, considering that Florida produces only a tiny fraction of the oil output in the U.S., and that there is an oil glut in this country at the moment causing oil companies to halt production and look to export.

Efforts to correct this bad legislation have had little success. Less than a year ago the Senate soundly rejected an effort to repeal the loophole.

What we have today as a regulatory tool is an organization called FracFocus.org, created by the petroleum industry. Unfortunately, Harvard Law School recently evaluated FracFocus and found it to be unreliable, since the information it disseminates is not vetted. It may even do more harm than good, as critics suggest it is used as a shield by some companies to ostensibly show compliance and concern for public health.

It is now abundantly apparent that the fracking industry refuses to disclose the dangers they thrust upon us, and that both they and our government place profits above the well-being of the people.

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson is policy director for Our Santa Fe River and Jim Tatum is historian. Both live in Fort White.

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