Group Says: Fracking is not Healthy for Humans and Other Living Things
December 9, 2011
SANTA FE, N. M. - An international consumer advocacy groups has set its sights on clean water in New Mexico.
Food & Water Watch is concerned about hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" - a process used to extract natural gas from oil shale deposits. It's a practice the New Mexico organizer for the organization will be working to ban in the coming year. The group's state organizer, Eleanor Bravo, says fracking carries with it a host of dangers.
"The fracking fluid, which is injected at high pressure into the oil shale to release the natural gas, is laced with approximately 57 different carcinogens."
New Mexico Oil and Gas Association President Steve Henke acknowledges the use of carcinogens, notably benzene, in the fracking process. However, he expresses confidence that the water table is unaffected by hydraulic fracturing operations.
"Well, I absolutely do. As we drill through the fresh-water-bearing zones, there's at least two protective layers of steel casing and cement in that well bore that separate those fresh-water zones from any fluids coming in and out of the well bore."
Henke says history and monitoring have shown this to be an effective method for preventing commingling and creating protection for the water table during fracturing operations.
Bravo believes that's not enough. She points out that the fracking process is exempt from the Clean Water Act, and says an analysis of the chemicals used shows that as much as 50 to 55 percent of the fracking fluid remains in the strata, with the rest reclaimed as "produced water."
"Municipal water systems can't clean that kind of water."
Bravo adds the big concern is money, not the environment. She does not believe industry statements that the natural gas is simply a "bridge fuel" to tide the nation over until more alternative energy comes online.
"These oil and gas companies are poised to sell this natural gas to foreign countries. They're turning North America into the next Saudi Arabia."
Formerly part of Ralph Nader's group Public Citizen, Food & Water Watch will be opening an office in Albuquerque this month, adds Bravo.