Environmentalists have been fighting the expanding use of fracking operations in the United States as a harmful practice, particularly for water contamination. The practice involves injecting millions of gallons of chemical-laced water and sand deep underground to crack shale formations to extract oil and gas. Not only does it use a huge amount of water in areas of water shortage but the chemicals contaminate both surface and underground water resources. Now a study in the journal Endocrinology has found a linkage to chemicals that have been linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer as well as elevated levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals in the Colorado River.
The danger to people in these areas has been routinely denied by the oil and gas lobby as well as members of Congress and state legislators who have advanced the interests of the fracking industry. Worse yet, some current laws exempt fracking from protections for safe drinking water and energy companies do not have to disclose the chemicals they use if they consider that information a trade secret.
The team in the study tested for endocrine-disrupting chemicals and found that, out of 39 water samples collected at five drilling sites, 89% showed estrogenic properties, 41% were anti-estrogenic, 12% were androgenic and 46% were anti-androgenic. The chemical found in the sample can interfere with human sex hormones.
The response from the industry was predictable. Katie Brown, a spokeswoman with the industry advocacy group Energy In Depth, dismissed the study as “inflammatory.” With a study showing a danger to people and birth defects, the industry and its lobbyists respond with a shrug and a dismissive comment. Politicians are also conspicuously silent. These same politicians celebrate “family values” but it appears that birth defects in families does not fall within the scope of such concerns.
There may be counter-arguments to be made to these concerns but what concerns me is the success of this lobby in cutting off this debate. I would like to see a substantive response to this report, but I fear that we are not going to have a full public debate on the risks of this expanding form of extraction.
Source: LA Times