Fracking by the Numbers: New Report from Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center First to Quantify Damage Done by Gas Drilling

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Environment Michigan

Ann Arbor, Mich. —As the gas industry buys up hundreds of thousands of acres across the state, a new report tells a cautionary tale of the threats fracking poses to our water, our air, and our health. The Environment Michigan Research & Policy Center report “Fracking by the Numbers” is the first of its kind to measure the footprint of fracking across the country to date.

“The numbers don’t lie— fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If fracking continues unchecked, these numbers will only get more dire,” said Shelley Vinyard, Regional Program Director from Environment Michigan. “And here in Michigan, where fracking is expanding almost too quickly to track, these numbers will only get worse.”

“I have held town halls across Oakland County, and there is widespread concern about potential harm fracking and drilling could do to our economically valuable lakes and ground water. Even small accidents can have a huge effect on the environment and our aquifer,” said Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash. “We can’t afford to see this expand without more local control and much better regulation.”

In addition, the “Fracking by the Numbers” report measured other key indicators of fracking threats across the country, including 250 billion gallons of fresh water used including hundreds of millions here in Michigan since 2005, 280 billion gallons of wastewater and 450,000 tons of air pollution produced in 2012, and 360,000 acres of land degraded including many public lands in Michigan since 2005, and 100 million tons of global warming pollution

The group For Love of Water is helping local communities take action to protect themselves from this drilling practice.

“In the past few years, as fracking has increased here in Michigan, communities across the state are asking how they can protect themselves from threats to air, water and land resources. FLOW developed this program to both inform communities about the impacts and potential threats of fracking, and to provide local governments with solutions within the scope of their existing legal authority,” says FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood.

“The issue of fracking is particularly pressing here in Michigan right now because less than an hour’s drive from Lake Michigan’s pristine shores in the northwest part of the state, the gas industry has already used more than 70 million gallons of freshwater, and has plans to use millions of gallons more, according to research by Respect My Planet,” Vinyard said. “While the state legislature and governor’s office are taking some action, it’s clear we need to do more and much more quickly.”

“The bottom line is this: the numbers on fracking add up to an environmental nightmare,” said Vinyard. “For public health and our environment, we need to put a stop to fracking.”

On the federal level, last month the Obama administration received more than a million comments urging much stronger protections from fracking for national forests and national parks. In addition, Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania (D-Scranton) has introduced the CLEANER Act (H.R. 2825)— a bill to close the loophole exempting oil and gas waste from the nation’s hazardous waste law.

“The data from today’s report shows how urgently we need to protect Michigan’s communities from fracking, in every way possible, and so we are working on the local, state, an national level to stop this drilling practice,” said Vinyard. “And right now, our federal officials can start by barring fracking around our national parks and national forests, and by closing the loophole exempting toxic fracking waste from our nation’s hazardous waste law.”