Firing a new salvo in the ongoing debate over the gas drilling practice known as fracking, Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center today released The Costs of Fracking, a report documenting a wide range of impacts imposed by dirty drilling. Fracking entails the pumping of millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals into underground shale to crack the rock and release the gas. As documented in this report, fracking creates millions of dollars in costs, related to everything from toxic cleanup, to health costs, to infrastructure damage.
The report shows that fracking damage exacts numerous financial tolls on communities – from road repairs to health costs to emergency response. It includes the following examples of such costs.
•Drinking Water: If fracking were to degrade the New York City watershed, construction of a filtration plant would cost approximately $6 billion.
•Health: In Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale region, air pollution from fracking operations imposed 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.
•Natural Resources: Emissions of methane during well completion from each uncontrolled fracking well impose approximately $130,000 in social costs related to global warming.
•Infrastructure: In 2010 Pennsylvania estimated $265 million in road repairs for the Marcellus Shale region, needed after the thousands of trips made by trucks and heavy fracking machinery.
Moreover, as with previous extractive booms, fracking will impose long-term costs as well. As noted in the report, the coal boom in Appalachia left Pennsylvania with an estimated $5 billion cost for cleaning up acid mine drainage.
“The environmental costs of fracking are appalling in their own right and the dollars and cents costs are adding insult to injury,” said Environment Massachusetts Energy Associate, Danielle Falzon. “In Massachusetts we have the opportunity to hold polluters accountable by banning the importation of dirty and dangerous fracking wastewater.”
“Bottomline, our communities believe in putting our health over corporations profits”, said Claire Miler of Toxics Action Center, “Whether its at the toxic gas by the wellhead in New York, my drinking water mixed with wastewater , or the powerplant’s smokestack in Westfield- fracking and natural gas is a dirty business.”