Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

New Report Provides Overview on Key Concerns of Fracking

Energy

National Wildlife Federation

In recent years, there has been explosive growth in industry activities to extract natural gas from shale formations located throughout America. While the growth of the natural gas industry has provided some economic benefits to local economies, it has also been accompanied by growing public fears. In particular, concern and opposition have centered on the process of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) used to extract shale gas.

A new report—No More Drilling in the Dark—provides an overview of unconventional gas drilling and the key concerns and potential threats that such drilling raises for America’s land, water, air and wildlife. It also provides a number of recommendations for addressing and reducing related environmental impacts.

While many potential impacts remain unknown, there have been documented cases of pollution and impacts on habitats that raise serious concerns. Fracking chemicals and methane have contaminated underground water resources. The clearing of forests for the construction of drilling pads and access roads has fragmented habitats and led to silt runoff. Drilling accidents have led to pollution of streams and other water bodies. Fracking fluids have been shown to be harmful or deadly for plants and animals. Exhaust from drilling-related machinery has worsened air pollution. Methane leakages have contributed to increased emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which scientists link to climate change and ocean acidification.

While some state and federal agencies have begun working to respond to the growth of the industry and provide improved regulation and oversight, much more needs to be done. The National Wildlife Federation recommends a number of actions to ensure that the development of unconventional natural gas resources is pursued in an environmentally responsible manner. Needed improvements to regulatory frameworks and industry practices include greater transparency, improved research and monitoring, eliminating existing loopholes and exemptions from environmental laws, establishing mitigation and compensation mechanisms, and improving practices to reduce impacts on water resources and habitats.

To the extent that natural gas can be substituted for coal and oil—and especially if its use can help us avoid energy sources such as tar sands and oil from risky offshore drilling—there can be some environmental benefits. Nevertheless, natural gas produces greenhouse gas emissions—and is a limited fossil fuel resource that will someday be depleted. It is therefore no more than a temporary stopgap as our nation makes a necessary transition to renewable energy sources.

America should choose extraction practices that do not endanger the long-term integrity and health of our forests, rivers and grasslands, and the wildlife species that depend on them. The National Wildlife Federation will remain committed to educating the public and lawmakers about the risks posed by unconventional natural gas exploitation, and we will work for the enactment of prudent regulations to safeguard our nation’s land, air, water and wildlife.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less