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Well Blowout

By Julie Dermansky

A fracked natural gas well in northwest Louisiana has been burning for two weeks after suffering a blowout. A state official said the fire will likely burn for the next month before the flames can be brought under control by drilling a relief well.

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A new study suggests that recent fracking in the U.S. and Canada is largely to blame for the rise of methane in the Earth's atmosphere. Jeff Wallace / Flickr

By Julia Conley

New research by a scientist at Cornell University warns that the fracking boom in the U.S. and Canada over the past decade is largely to blame for a large rise in methane in the earth's atmosphere — and that reducing emissions of the extremely potent greenhouse gas is crucial to help stem the international climate crisis.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Drilling next to homes in North Dakota's Bakken Shale. Tara Lohan

By Tara Lohan

In 2010 when I first started writing about hydraulic fracturing — the process of blasting a cocktail of water and chemicals into shale to release trapped hydrocarbons — there were more questions than answers about environmental and public-health threats. That same year Josh Fox's documentary Gasland, which featured tap water bursting into flames, grabbed the public's attention. Suddenly the term fracking — little known outside the oil and gas industry — became common parlance.

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A pronghorn runs through the Pinedale Anticline natural gas field in Wyoming in 2008. Theo Stein / USFWS

By Tara Lohan

In January 2015 North Dakota experienced one of the worst environmental disasters in its history: A pipeline burst, spilling nearly 3 million gallons of briny, saltwater waste from nearby oil-drilling operations into two creek beds. The wastewater, which flowed all the way to the Missouri River, contained chloride concentrations high enough to kill any wildlife that encountered it.

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A pumpjack in the Permian Basin. blake.thornberry / Flickr

By Sharon Kelly

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal featured a profile of Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, whose company is known among investors for its emphasis on drawing oil and gas from the Permian Basin in Texas using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

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An oil drilling site in a residential area of Los Angeles, California on July 16, 2014. Faces of Fracking / Flickr

By Jake Johnson

A comprehensive analysis of nearly 1,500 scientific studies, government reports, and media stories on the consequences of fracking released Wednesday found that the evidence overwhelmingly shows the drilling method poses a profound threat to public health and the climate.

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Natascha Engel resigned from her role as the shale gas commissioner over the government's commitment to seismic activity regulations. BBC News / Frack Free TV / YouTube screenshot

By Russell Scott and Zach Boren

The British government's recently-departed shale gas commissioner admitted to routinely deleting correspondence and throwing away notes from meetings with fracking companies in a move that may have violated transparency requirements.

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Oil and gas development on BLM lands around Bakersfield, CA. John Ciccarelli, BLM

By Carla Ruas

Elizabeth Perez was only 10 years old when she moved with her family to the city of Bakersfield, in California. Almost immediately, she says, she began experiencing nosebleeds, headaches and difficulty breathing. Perez was in and out of a local health clinic for years, but doctors couldn't quite pinpoint what was making her sick.

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A fuel truck carries fuel into a fracking site past the warning signs Jan. 27, 2016 near Stillwater, Oklahoma. J Pat Carter / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

For more than three decades, the U.S. government has mismanaged toxic oil and gas waste containing carcinogens, heavy metals and radioactive materials, according to a new Earthworks report — and with the country on track to continue drilling and fracking for fossil fuels, the advocacy group warns of growing threats to the planet and public health.

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Thousands of young people gather in London to protest lack of government action on climate change on February 15, 2018.WIktor Szymanowicz / NurPhoto / Getty Images

England's High Court ruled Wednesday that the government's planning policy on fracking was unlawful, in a major victory for anti-fracking group Talk Fracking.

In part of his ruling, Mr. Justice Dove found that the government had not taken up-to-date information on climate change into account when drafting its policy. This could make it easier for campaigners to challenge new fracking sites in the future on the basis of their climate impacts, The Guardian explained.

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A new fracking rig and a pumping rig stand beside a house Feb. 10, 2016 in an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma neighborhood. J Pat Carter / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Proximity to oil and gas sites makes pregnant mothers up to 70 percent more likely to give birth to a baby with congenital heart defects, according to a new study.

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A soybean field lies in front of a natural gas drilling rig Sept. 8, 2012 in Fairfield Township, Pennsylvania. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

By Peter Hart

Pennsylvania is home to more than 10,000 fracking wells, which forces communities to live with air pollution, water contamination and an array of health problems linked to drilling.

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Emma Bray of Denver, a plaintiff on the youth-led climate lawsuit, Martinez v. COGCC. @youthvgov / Twitter

Colorado's oil and gas industry breathed a sigh of relief on Monday after the state's highest court overturned a lower court decision that said state regulators must consider public health and the environment in permitting oil and gas production.

The unanimous ruling was a disappointment for the teenage plaintiffs, including high-profile climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, who led the closely watched lawsuit against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).

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32 fracking companies in the U.S. are running a deficit of nearly $1 billion. grandriver / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

2018 was the year the oil and gas industry promised that its darling, the shale fracking revolution, would stop focusing on endless production and instead turn a profit for its investors. But as the year winds to a close, it's clear that hasn't happened.

Instead, the fracking industry has helped set new records for U.S. oil production while continuing to lose huge amounts of money—and that was before the recent crash in oil prices.

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A protester outside the site where fracking restarted in the UK in October. OLI SCARFF / AFP / Getty Images

It would appear that the resurgence of fracking in the UK is on very shaky ground. A company called Cuadrilla restarted the controversial technique at a site in Lancashire, in Northwest England, just two months ago after a seven year hiatus. But it spent a month of that time doing tests with smaller volumes of water after a series of small earthquakes in October, The Guardian reported.

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Ruins at Chaco Canyon. pedrik / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is pushing ahead with the sale of oil and gas leases on land outside of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and other sites revered by Native American tribes, The Associated Press reported.

The latest listing—which quietly appeared on the BLM website not long after the government reopened after the shutdown—comes about a year after then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke postponed a lease sale in the Greater Chaco Region in response to intense public pressure over cultural and environmental concerns.

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Plateau Creek near De Beque, Colorado, where land has been leased for oil and gas production. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post / Getty Images

By Randi Spivak

Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.

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Irina Vodneva / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By the Numbers

5: Priority recommendations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has implemented since March 2018. Those actions relate to chemical standards, nonpoint water pollution and water pollution assessment. There are, however, 14 priority recommendations that the agency has not acted on. (Government Accountability Office)

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Low-value plastic piles up in Surabaya, Indonesia. Photo by Stiv Wilson

By Tara Lohan

When you throw things away, do you wonder where "away" is? An upcoming film, to be released this fall by the nonprofit The Story of Stuff Project, traces the journey of our plastic products. It covers not just where our plastic goes but also where it comes from.

It's a lesson we need.

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