The Havoc that Fracking Causes to Our Food and Water Supply, NY Governor to Decide Very Soon

Written by Max Goldberg on January 8, 2013. Follow Max on Twitter: @livingmaxwell.

(Photo courtesy of Food & Water Watch)

Tomorrow in Albany, NY, I’ll be protesting at the state’s capital because our governor is very close to approving hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. And for those who care about organic food, fracking should be on your radar screen just as much as GMOs or pesticides.

Fracking uses a tremendous amount of water, combined with sand and chemicals, to break apart rock and extract natural gas from deep underground.

Inexplicably, the fracking companies don’t have to tell us what these poisonous chemicals are, so as not to set off an even greater fury of environmental and public health concerns. Why is this?

Dick Cheney, the Vice President at the time and a former CEO of Halliburton, helped push through the so-called “Haliburton loophole” in the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, which exempts the gas industry from disclosing the array of toxic ingredients deemed to be proprietary information.

Aside from the spills, leaks, and accidents that take place, fracking creates a host of other problems including:

1) The quality of our water gets even worse. Regular readers of my blog know that I write A LOT about the horrid state of our water supply. As it stands now,

– 94% of our water contains atrazine, a chemical that has been linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, and cancer. Furthermore, the President’s Cancer Panel reported that (PDF) atrazine “has been shown to affect mammary gland development in animal studies with some findings suggesting multigenerational effects.”

–  The Pesticide Action Network reports that 59 different pesticide residues have been found in our water supply including 9 known or probable carcinogens, 20 suspected hormone disruptors, 7 neurotoxins, and 14 developmental or reproductive toxins.

The chemicals used for fracking are highly toxic, such as formaldehyde, benzene, hydrochloric acid, and ethylene glycol. Given that an estimated 80% of fracking fluid stays underground, a good amount of this water ends up migrating into aquifers and drinking water wells.

The wastewater that does get recovered has to be disposed of, not an easy, inexpensive or mistake-free task.

2) Huge strain on our water resources. As it stands now, water is a very limited resource and water wars are already erupting all over the country.

Fracking uses millions and millions of gallons of water and takes away from the water supply from farmers in the neighboring area. This problem will only get worse as time goes on.

3) Massive negative impact to farmers and consumers. Fracking severely harms farmers, and ultimately consumers, in a wide variety of ways.

* Whether due to spills, accidents or wastewater ending up in evaporating ponds, livestock gravitate towards this salty wastewater. The ramifications of them ingesting this water or being exposed to it in some other way are very serious.

A Penn State Extension study found that among Pennsylvania counties with at least 10,000 dairy cows, counties that had at least 150 Marcellus shale wells (natural gas wells) experienced a 16% average decline in dairy cows between 2007 and 2010, compared to a 3% increase experienced in counties without shale gas wells.

On average, the counties with at least 150 Marcellus wells endured an 18.5% decrease in milk production, while production in counties with no shale drilling increased.

* Contaminated water used to spray on crops causes soil to become acidic, and ozone gases can contribute to a decrease in crop yields.

* If Governor Cuomo approves fracking, demand for New York food products will decrease and prices of food for consumers will increase. Here’s why.

The Park Slope Coop, a very influential 15,000 member coop in Brooklyn, NY, has already sent letters to the governor and the state legislature saying that it will stop purchasing products from farms that are affected by fracking, if it were to be approved in the state.

Prominent chefs in New York City, also acutely aware of the importance of the food supply and how fracking would endanger it, formed Chefs for the Marcellus to raise awareness of and protest against fracking.

If coops, chefs, and grocery stores all abandon New York farms, many of which are organic, not only is it possible that these farms will go out of business but purchasing will come from further away, which would result in higher costs for consumers.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

There are a few things that you can do, whether you live in New York or not.

1) With Governor Cuomo about to decide on fracking, comments are being accepted until January 11th, 2013. We must flood the Department of Environmental Conservation with thousands and thousands of letters.

Click HERE to send in your electronic comment, and you can comment more than once.

2) Come to Albany, NY tomorrow to protest where Governor Cuomo will be delivering his State of the State address. Food & Water Watch, an incredible non-profit that works to protect our food and water supply, is organizing buses throughout the state to Albany. For more information, click HERE.

I’ve already submitted my comment and will send in more until the deadline hits. Will you join me in this?

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Fracking has the potential to further destroy the quality of our water supply and force many, many organic farmers to shut down their operations.  Let’s not allow that to happen.

Thank so much for your concern.

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4 Comments

  1. Great post Max. Aside from the many obvious things I can say, the aspect of acidic soil affecting crops is very true. From my experience with (real) organic lawn care, I’ve learned about grass not liking acidic soil and am aware how it affects growth in plants that don’t like it.

    For the non-organic producers that see little harm in chemicals, this might represent a tipping point for them too. From my understanding, synthetic herbicides and fertilizers are already acidic. Add acid in the water and they may see their crops produce low yields if any at all.

    This is way beyond an organic issue.

    Written by Ken Lonyai on January 8, 2013 @ 4:17 pm
  2. Hi Ken,

    Thanks so much, and I agree with you that this is way beyond an organic issue. Hopefully, we can stop it from happening in NY state. We’ll see.

    I appreciate your feedback.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on January 8, 2013 @ 5:04 pm
  3. You didn’t mention air pollution, another unwanted addition to the local and regional environments by fracking operations. A single frack — lots of wells will be fracked many times — involves many hundreds of heavy diesel trucks driving to and from the well pad. They don’t have pollutions controls. Their soot and poisons pour right into the air and over crops. Same for the banks of huge stationary diesels used to pump the goop down the well at very high pressure. This means 15 or 20 2,200-horsepower diesels running at full throttle for many hours at a time.

    Third and perhaps most alarming is the gaseous leaks of methane and other toxic hydrocarbons from the system, which is under pressure and bound to leak at many junctures. I’m no biochemist but exposure to that can’t accord with an “organic” designation.

    Written by Tom Parrett on January 8, 2013 @ 5:24 pm
  4. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the comment and additions. Air quality is certainly a concern, no question about it.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on January 9, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

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