Dear Congressman Guinta, Bass and Senators Ayotte and Shaheen,
As a constituent in New Hampshire, I request that you introduce legislation that will provide a federal ban on hydraulic fracturing for oil, natural gas and mineral mining. As a scientist working in the interest of public health and the environment, I am concerned with the safety of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Immediate action is needed to protect our air and drinking water from the consequences of this practice.
You have probably heard about the many secret poisonous chemicals like explosive alpha methyl styrene used by frackers, but you won’t hear about the radioactive iodine-131 and cesium tracers that are injected with the water and fracking chemicals because they don’t want you or the public to know. In addition to radioactive tracers, fracking operations release the following into our air and water:
* deadly arsine gases
* other radioactive nuclides
* alpha methyl styrene
* diesel fuel
* other VOCs (volatile organic compounds) including: benzene, toluene and xylene
Radon gas has a radioactive decay half-life of 3.8 days. Its decay products are the radioactive elements of:
The recommended EPA remediation level for radon gas in air is 4.0 pC/L. This recommendation is too high; remediation should be required for anything above outdoor air levels of 0.4 pC/L.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, “there are no safe levels of radiation”.
In New Hampshire some public drinking water supplies, like those in Raymond, are contaminated with uranium, radium-226 and radon gas. These elements emit radiation to an unsuspecting population with a growing incidence of many types of cancers. Precious underground aquifers are being poisoned and rendered useless around the globe by fracking techniques used by oil, gas and mining companies. We must avoid additional aquifer contamination and air pollutants produced by fracking.
A Congressional investigation by Waxman, Markey and DeGette found that between the years 2005 and 2009 the gas and oil service companies injected over 32 million gallons of diesel fuel in wells in 19 states. This is clearly a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The results of hydraulic fracturing are responsible for:
* respiratory illness
* contamination of drinking water wells
* contamination of aquifers
* air pollution
* quarantined cattle (Pennsylvania)
* earthquakes, hundreds confirmed by the USGS
* explosions in states across the country
Fracking also affects our food supply — farmers are being outbid for precious water by frackers, causing crop stress and unnecessary damage, driving food prices higher and putting our food supply at risk. Agriculture is now taking a back seat to frackers and this should be of major concern to all.
During the previous administration, oil, gas and mining companies were provided fracking protection through a provision in the Energy Policy Act at the expense of public health and the environment. This occurred in 2005 when Congress changed the definition of “underground injection” excluding “underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas or geothermal production activities.” The protections afforded these operations have caused immeasurable harm to Americans and people around the world. The truth about fracking practices was deliberately withheld from the public to provide cover for industry.
We should no longer protect the secrets of this industry. Disregard for the environment and public health must end. The fracking industry has demonstrated poor citizenship and has proven itself unworthy of public trust. Those that would condone such malicious and injurious practices are neither defenders of public health nor our Constitution.
As a scientist working for the protection of health and the environment, I urge you to consider moving away from fossil fuels in the direction of solar, hydro, geothermal and other forms of clean energy. We must not politicize issues affecting public health. Industrialists with vested interests in oil, natural gas, coal and other toxic enterprises must no longer be afforded protection at the expense of our air and water.
We have entrusted you to do the peoples’ bidding. As Americans we want you to protect our food, our water supplies, our air and our health. I ask that you protect us from the corporate members of society that would continue to cause harm to us and our children for the sake of personal profit.
Please introduce and support immediate legislation for a national ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Anthony Samsel is a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Collaborative on Health and the Environment and a retired consultant to Arthur D. Little, Inc.