The Costs of Fracking: Environment Illinois documents dollars drained by dirty drilling

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Environment Illinois

Chicago, IL–Firing a new salvo in the ongoing debate over fracking, Environment Illinois released a report today documenting a wide range of dollars and cents costs imposed by dirty drilling — from health costs to local services to ruined roads to contaminated property. The Costs of Fracking report comes as Environment Illinois and its allies urge Springfield to stop fracking before it can take root in the state.

“The environmental damage of fracking is bad enough, but it turns out that dirty drilling imposes heavy dollar and cents costs as well,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment Illinois and a co-author of the report. “The price tag of dirty drilling is one more reason we need a moratorium on fracking here in Illinois.”

The report’s documented examples of fracking costs include the following:

  • Drinking water contamination:  In Dimock, Pennsylvania, permanently replacing residents’ contaminated drinking water with a new source was estimated at more than $11 million.
  • Health costs from air pollution:  In Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale region, air pollution from fracking operations imposes health costs estimated at $9.8 million in one year. In Texas’ Barnett Shale region, those costs reach $270,000 per day during the summer smog season.
  • Roads to ruin:  In Texas’ Barnett Shale, fracking operations involve so many thousands of trips by trucks and heavy machinery that a state task force approved $40 million in funding for road repairs in the region.

Other fracking costs documented in the report range from nearby homeowners losing property value to farmers losing livestock from fracking contamination.

Tabitha Tripp, a volunteer with Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment (SAFE), said, “We’re the ones who will feel the impact of fracking. For us, this isn’t about some theoretical economic benefit to the state — it’s about our drinking water, our roads, and the health of our families. “

Moreover, the record of prior booms indicates that the public will all too often be stuck with the bill for such fracking costs.  For example, Pennsylvania is now stuck with an estimated $5 billion cost for cleaning up mining pollution from decades ago. Similarly, the current gas drilling rush is plagued with inadequate financial assurance and the difficulty of proving liability, especially for impacts that are long-term.

“We have seen the tragedy of polluting booms before,” observed Rumpler. “In all likelihood, individual property owners and the public at large will be left holding the bag for the legacy of fracking.”

The Costs of Fracking report comes as the Illinois State Legislature considers legislation to place a statewide moratorium on fracking. “We can’t let this dirty drilling destroy the communities of Southern Illinois,” said Tripp.

Dr. Lora Chamberlain of the Illinois Coalition For A Moratorium On Fracking added, “Fracking has intensely industrialized rural communities in other states. These communities have paid a very high price, some lost their clean water and air, and many have lost the peace and quiet of their rural way of life.”

The case against fracking is sufficiently compelling based on its damage to the environment and health alone. For Environment Illinois, the costs documented in its report are an additional reason for ending the dirty drilling practice.

“Our review of the evidence convinces us that fracking is inherently destructive and costly,” concluded Rumpler.

Read the full report here.


Environment Illinois is a statewide, citizen based environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.