According to Reuters, President Obama is poised to nominate ardent “fracking” supporter Dr. Ernest Moniz as the next head of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Moniz is the director of MIT’s Energy Institute, which boasts such Big Oil financial backers as BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco.
Moniz isn’t only a true believer in the need to expand fracking infrastructure and development to serve as a “bridge” to low-carbon sources of energy; he’s on record as calling the controversial and toxic energy extraction method “paradigm shifting.”
Fracking is a highly polluting form of oil and gas extraction that requires blasting huge volumes of water, mixed with toxic chemicals and sand, deep into the earth to break up rock formations. There are more than 600,000 fracking wells and waste injection sites littering the United States. Worse are the state and federal plans to open up of huge new swaths of public land to this dangerous process in the months and years to come.
Blasting toxic chemicals into the same ground that gives us the food we eat and the water we drink not only fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also destroys farmland, contaminates groundwater, and endangers the health of people and animals alike. And without a sustainable farming system the safety of America’s food supply would be threatened.
There is ample evidence to suggest that the U.S. food system has already been polluted with fracking chemicals. Contaminated crops and farm animals raised for food subsequently serve as possible avenues for exposing humans to these same hazardous chemicals, including arsenic, benzene, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), formaldehyde, lead, toluene, Uranium-238 and Radium-226. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ list of common health problems from exposure to these fracking chemicals includes autism, asthma, cancer, heart disease, kidney failure, infertility, birth defects, allergies, endocrine diseases and immune system disorders.
A recent study published in Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy that involved interviews with animal owners who live near gas drilling operations revealed frequent deaths. Animals that survived exhibited health problems including infertility, birth defects and worsening reproductive health in successive breeding seasons. Some animals developed unusual neurological conditions, anorexia, and liver or kidney disease.
Increasing numbers of farmers on the front lines of the fracking fight have fallen ill, too:
Carol French, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer is surrounded by nine gas wells. Two weeks after she noticed her water had changed her daughter developed a fever and diarrhea that turned to blood. She lost ten pounds in seven days.
Steve and Jacki Schilke, two North Dakota ranchers, are surrounded by 32 oil and gas wells within three miles of their 160-acre ranch. Jacki blames the wells for the loss of two dogs, five cows and a number of chickens, as well as the decline of her own health. Her symptoms began a few days after the wells were fracked, when a burning feeling in her lungs sent her to the emergency room.
Christine Moore, an Ohio horse rescuer, had a well fracked five miles from her house. Within two months her water went bad. An oily film formed across the surface of the water in her horses’ bowls. The water inside her home, pumped from her well and filtered through a softener, began giving her severe stomachaches.
Stories like these are no longer isolated incidences but increasingly common place.
President Obama needs to hear from you: Expanding fracking operations won’t serve as a bridge to a cleaner future. Instead, it will sound the death knell for sustainable farming, healthy food, clean water, and a stable climate.