Water, Air, Health, and Ecosystems

SEE SUBHEADINGS BELOW: WATER, AIR/CLIMATE, HEALTH, ECOSYSTEMS. General and cross-category material:

Unconventional oil and gas development and risk of childhood leukemia: Assessing the evidence: New Yale School of Public Health study finds numerous carcinogens used in fracking have potential to contaminate air and water of nearby communities and increase the risk of childhood leukemia. Oct. 2016. From the abstract:

The widespread distribution of unconventional oil and gas (UO&G) wells and other facilities in the United States potentially exposes millions of people to air and water pollutants, including known or suspected carcinogens. Childhood leukemia is a particular concern because of the disease severity, vulnerable population, and short dis- ease latency…We assessed carcinogenicity and evidence of increased risk for leukemia/lymphoma of these chemicals using International Agency for Re- search on Cancer (IARC) monographs. The majority of compounds (N 80%) were not evaluated by IARC and there- fore could not be reviewed. Of the 111 potential water contaminants and 29 potential air pollutants evaluated by IARC (119 unique compounds), 49 water and 20 air pollutants were known, probable, or possible human carcinogens (55 unique compounds). A total of 17 water and 11 air pollutants (20 unique compounds) had evidence of increased risk for leukemia/lymphoma, including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, cadmium, diesel exhaust, and several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Though information on the carcinogenicity of compounds associated with UO&G development was limited, our assessment identified 20 known or suspected carcinogens that could be measured in future studies to advance exposure and risk assessments of cancer-causing agents. Our findings support the need for investigation into the relationship between UO&G development and risk of cancer in general and childhood leukemia in particular. E.G. Elliott et al. / Science of the Total Environment 576 (2017) 138–147. This is an open access article under a creative commons license.

PA doctors’ association members unanimously call for moratorium on fracking: The state’s largest medical association has unanimously called for a moratorium on new shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and is urging the state to establish an independent health registry and initiate a study on its impacts on public health. The Pennsylvania Medical Society’s 300-member House of Delegates unanimously approved a resolution calling for the fracking moratorium, registry and research at its annual meeting. Oct. 2016

Study finds Association Between Unconventional Natural Gas Development in the Marcellus Shale and Asthma Exacerbations. Sept. 2016. From the abstract: “A nested case-control study comparing patients with asthma with and without exacerbations from 2005 through 2012 treated at the Geisinger Clinic, which provides primary care services to over 400?000 patients in Pennsylvania. Patients with asthma aged 5 to 90 years (n?=?35?508) were identified in electronic health records; those with exacerbations were frequency matched on age, sex, and year of event to those without…Conclusions and Relevance  Residential UNGD activity metrics were statistically associated with increased risk of mild, moderate, and severe asthma exacerbations.” Rasmussen, S.G. et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(9):1334-1343. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2436

 

Greenhouse gas emissions still accelerating: NOAA, cited in Inside Climate News 6-16

Bloomberg: Methane is leaking everywhere (cites PA but Ohio is likely worse with possibly over 200,000 wells no longer producing but not plugged.)

And a new report by the Center for American Progress reveals that onshore oil and gas industry’s methane emissions totaled more than 48 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e, in 2014. Discussed in Ecowatch 6-21-16

When the Wind Blows: new report on links between body burden and air emissions in Wyoming gas fields. Coming Clean, 6-16

Dimock PA water unsafe, a newly published report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), confirms, putting EPA‘s testing results into an entirely new light. See discussion at DeSmogBlog. 6-2-16

Fracking-Related Industrial Growth to Boost Greenhouse Gas Pollution by as Much as 19 Coal Plants: new report. 2-29-16

No, natural gas is not cleaner than coal. Compendium of the science here and new information on the inaccuracies — severe underestimates — of equipment readings by EDF and other studies here. Updated analyses of data reviewed and linked here 2-16

Pa. water contamination turns out to be much higher than reported. 2-16

New report (discussed here): Elliott, E. et al, “A systematic evaluation of chemicals in hydraulic-fracturing fluids and wastewater for reproductive and developmental toxicity,” Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2016), 1–10).

Abstract: We systematically evaluated 1021 chemicals identified in hydraulic- fracturing fluids (n = 925), wastewater (n = 132), or both (n = 36) for potential reproductive and developmental toxicity to triage those with potential for human health impact. We searched the REPROTOX database using Chemical Abstract Service registry numbers for chemicals with available data and evaluated the evidence for adverse reproductive and developmental effects. Next, we determined which chemicals linked to reproductive or developmental toxicity had water quality standards or guidelines. Toxicity information was lacking for 781 (76%) chemicals. Of the remaining 240 substances, evidence suggested reproductive toxicity for 103 (43%), developmental toxicity for 95 (40%), and both for 41 (17%). Of these 157 chemicals, 67 had or were proposed for a federal water quality standard or guideline. Our systematic screening approach identified a list of 67 hydraulic fracturing- related candidate analytes based on known or suspected toxicity.

Aliso Canyon methane eruption highlights dangers to climate and air quality from aging gas and oil infrastructure and another article: Ecowatch 1-16

New Howarth analysis:  Methane emissions and climatic warming risk from hydraulic fracturing and shale gas development: implications for policy.  Energy and Emission Control Technologies 2015:3 45–54. Abstract:

…When methane emissions are included, the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas is significantly larger than that of conventional natural gas, coal, and oil. Because of the increase in shale gas development over recent years, the total greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use in the USA rose between 2009 and 2013, despite the decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. Given the projections for continued expansion of shale gas production, this trend of increasing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels is predicted to continue through 2040.

Dec. 2015: Large study finds methane emissions from oil and gas operations in Barnett shale 90% higher than government assumptions. Coverage and background in Inside Climate News.

Engineer: EDF-sponsored University of Texas study underestimates national methane emissions at natural gas production sites due to instrument sensor failure.  Research article published in Energy Science and Engineering  and cited by New York Times.  8-5-15

Census documents rise in deaths in oil and gas industry 9-15

Fine particulate matter linked to early death in peer-reviewed retrospective study of 500,000 Americans 9-15

Study shows dangerous contamination in water wells above Barnett Shale: WFAA.com on the study 6-15

New study shows a marked rise in radon levels in Pennsylvania homes since 2004 and the advent of widespread fracking. 4-15

Life in Doddridge County, WV, “well communication” and its effect on residents 3-31-15

Rural Utah’s Uintah Basin winter smog outpaces LA summer levels due to o&g industry emissions. USEPA weighs tightening smog standard in line with repeated recommendations from scientists. Center for Public Integrity report 3-12-15

New peer-reviewed study by David R. Brown et al. of SW PA Environmental Health Project: Human exposure to unconventional natural gas development: A public health demonstration of periodic high exposure to chemical mixtures in ambient air Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, published online 3-4-15

Ohio groups cry foul on ODNR interference in federal Emergency Community Right-to-Know law. 1-27-15

Fracking as a human rights issueprepublication draft, forthcoming in the Int. J. of Human Rights, March 2015: Extreme Energy, ‘Fracking’ and Human Rights: A New Field for Human Rights Impact Assessments?’ 2-15

The problem of methane – why natural gas may be as bad as coal. PBS NOVA  2-11-15

Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, PA Environ. Health Perspectives, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 1-15

Major study cites extreme reproductive and developmental health effects likely from fracking. From the abstract: “UOG [unconventional oil and gas] operations release large amounts of reproductive, immunological, and neurological toxicants, carcinogens as well as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) into the environment that may negatively affect human health (8). The chemicals used in or produced by UOG have been linked to negative health effects, including adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes in men, women, infants and children.

Lead author, Ellen Webb, stated, “Federal and state regulators must not ignore the potential serious health impacts from chemicals for families living in close proximity to fracking and other UOG sites. This growing evidence of health concerns for parents and children suggests that there is an urgent need to halt fracking and evaluate the adverse potential health outcomes for these communities on the front lines of the growing fracking industry.” 12-14

California communities at risk from fracking air pollution 1-15

Fracking-caused earthquakes confirmed in Ohio: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America: Mahoning earthquake of magnitude 3 and others of March 2014 linked to fracking. 1-6-15

IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) responds to flawed research that minimized environmental links to cancer. Most cancers are not caused by “bad luck.” (Duh.) Good analysis of the research flaws. 1-15

New research indicates “that discharge and accidental spills of OGW [oil and gas waste] to waterways pose risks to both human health and the environment.” Harkness, et al. Iodide, Bromide, and Ammonium in Hydraulic Fracturing and Oil and Gas Wastewaters: Environmental Implications. Environmental Science and Technology, 2015.

Great review of recent air impact research with links: Inside Climate News 12-30-14

New studies document the weight of the evidence on public health, environmental and economic impacts: From Ecowatch article on studies: “The experts have largely decided that evidence of risks to citizens and communities from fracking are compelling.” One analysis of the literature “found that 96 percent of all papers published on health outcomes point to possible negative impacts, that 87 percent of original research studies on health outcomes show potential risks, that 95 percent of original research studies on air quality show elevated levels of air pollutants and that 72 percent of original studies on water quality show actual or potential contamination…The second study, an update of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking by the Concerned Health Professionals of NY, similarly looks at results of numerous studies to arrive at its conclusions, exploring sixteen areas of potential harm from fracking. ‘A significant body of evidence has emerged to demonstrate that these activities are inherently dangerous to people and their communities,’ it says. ‘Risks include adverse impacts on water, air, agriculture, public health and safety, property values, climate stability and economic vitality.'” 12-14

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on extensive methane leakage from gas wells, plugged and unplugged: Mary Kang et al., “Direct measurements of methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania,”  PNAS  v. 111, #51, 12-23-14

Autism risk linked to particulate air pollution in Harvard School of Public Health study  Reuters 12-18-14

Oil bomb trains: weather.com/boom, 12-14, and yet another since then close to home: West Virginia explosions and fire last days after derailment of train carrying millions of pounds of fracked North Dakota Bakken crude. 2-18-15

NEW REPORT: FRACKING COMPANIES ARE EXPLOITING THE HALLIBURTON LOOPHOLE TO INJECT TOXIC CHEMICALSAn Environmental Integrity Project Investigation finds at least 6 fracking fluids on the market with higher concentrations of benzene (a carcinogen) than diesel fuel, and at least 153 wells fracked with liquids containing ethylbenzene (a probable carcinogen) in 11 states (OK, ND, TX, WY, CO, CA, OH, LA, NM, MT, and MI). 10-22-14

Climate Impacts of Natural Gas Production and LNG Export-8-30-14 

Center for Public Integrity ongoing reports: Big Oil, Bad AirBlackout in the Gas Patch: How PA residents are left in the dark about health and enforcement (Note: Ohio is even worse on disclosure, monitoring, and enforcement) 8-14

Aug. 2014: Maryland concludes fracking would have high likelihood of negative public health impacts, especially on air quality, healthcare infrastructure, occupational health, and social determinants of health. The report also concludes that fracking would have significant impacts on public health from cumulative exposures, frackwaste, and noise. Maryland currently has a moratorium on fracking.

NBC4: Federal report exposes toxic chemicals released in Monroe County Ohio fire 7-14

Wishful Thinking About Natural Gas: Why Fossil Fuels Can’t Solve the Problems Created by Fossil Fuels By Naomi OreskesTomDispatch | News Analysis. Conclusion: “Under current conditions, the increased availability and decreased price of natural gas are likely to lead to an increase in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  Preliminary data from 2013 suggest that that is already occurring. And global emissions are, of course, continuing to increase as well. Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing but expecting a different result. Psychologists define perseveration as repetitive behavior that interferes with learning. Whatever we call it, that seems to be what is happening. And whatever it is, it doesn’t make sense. Natural gas is not the bridge to clean energy; it’s the road to more climate change.” 7-28-14

July 10, 2014: Concerned Health Professionals of New York just released a major compendium of the scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking, including air, water, health, economic, and climate impacts, fully referenced and very current with over three hundred citations. The Compendium and its executive summary are available on the Concerned Health Professionals of New York website.

ACFAN and Buckeye Forest Council join petitioners nationwide in Earthjustice petition to USEPA to regulate fracking air pollution under Clean Air Act: Petition to USEPA: EPA must list oil and gas wells and associated equipment as an area source category and set national air toxics standards to protect public health 5-14

Just accepted for publication: Highly Elevated Atmospheric Levels of Volatile Organic Compounds in the Uintah Basin, Utah, Helmig, D. et al., Environmental Science and Technology, 3-13-14: From the abstract: “These measurements identify highly elevated levels of atmospheric alkane hydrocarbons with enhancement rates of C2 – C6 non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) mean mole fractions during temperature inversion events in 2013 at 200-300 times above the regional and seasonal background. Elevated atmospheric NMHC mole fractions coincided with build-up of ambient 1-hour ozone to levels exceeding 150 ppbv (parts per billion by volume). The total annual mass flux of C2-C7 VOC was estimated at 194 ± 56 x 106 kg yr-1, equivalent to the annual VOC emissions of a fleet of ~100 million automobiles. Total annual fugitive emission of the aromatic compounds benzene and toluene, considered air toxics, were estimated at 1.6 ± 0.4 x 106 and 2.0 ± 0.5 x 106 kg yr-1, respectively. These observations reveal a strong causal link between oil and gas emissions, accumulation of air toxics, and significant surface production in the atmospheric surface layer.” [emphasis added]  News story on the research: Chemical & Engineering News, 3-25-14

From the trenches: a Toxic Tour of Arkansas’s Fayetteville Shale. Two ACFAN members were invited and attended this conference and tour, heartbreaking and moving. Our new friends are fighting for their lives and with little support in the thick of the fracking frenzy that is destroying health, livelihood, homes, and life.  3-14

Follow the Money: Three Energy Export Congressional Hearings, No Climate Change Discussion, Steve Horn, 3-26-14:”In light of ongoing geopolitical tensions in Russia, Ukraine and hotly contested Crimea, three (yes, three!) U.S.Congressional Committees held hearings this week on the U.S. using its newfangled oil and gas bounty as a blunt tool to fend off Russian dominance of the global gas market. Though 14 combined witnesses testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power and U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, not a single environmental voice received an invitation.Using the ongoing regional tumult as a rationale to discuss exports ofU.S. oil and gas obtained mainly via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the lack of discussion on climate change doesn’t mean the issue isn’t important to national security types.Indeed, the Pentagon’s recently published Quadrennial Defense Review coins climate change a “threat force multiplier” that could lead to resource scarcity and resource wars. Though directly related to rampant resource extraction and global oil and gas marketing, with fracking’s accompanying climate change and ecological impacts, “threat force multiplication” impacts of climate change went undiscussed.”  More… 

New peer-reviewed research: Oil and gas wells and their integrity: Implications for shale and unconventional resource exploitation, Davies, R. et al., Marine and Petroleum Geology, in press, 2014:Of the 8030 wells targeting the Marcellus shale inspected in Pennsylvania between 2005 and 2013, 6.3% of these have been reported to the authorities for infringements related to well barrier or integrity failure. In a separate study of 3533 Pennsylvanian wells monitored between 2008 and 2011, there were 85 examples of cement or casing failures, 4 blowouts and 2 examples of gas venting.”The article also notes that Ohio has Ohio 9500 unplugged orphaned wells and plans to plug 524 of them. Orphaned wells provide channels for movement of methane, frack fluids, and waste. Many of these are unmapped. Ohio does not monitor active, plugged, or abandoned wells for potential water contamination. Even plugged wells can become conduits, since the plugging is often unsound, especially historically and due to low Ohio standards. Note that the 9500 figure is probably a vast underestimate based on these numbers: the Ohio RBDMS database shows that Ohio has had at least 265,902 wells with around 70,000 operating wells. From 1965 – 2013, 41,928 wells were plugged, according to ODNR. Subtracting (~70k + 42k) from ~266k leaves more than 150,000 wells unaccounted for. 

Liquid Pipeline: Extreme energy’s threat to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway Maude Barlow 3-14Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Big Oil and Bad Air on the Texas Prairie, a multimedia report from Center for Public Integrity, Inside Climate News, and the Weather Channel(!): full report here. 2-14

1,000+ Health Professionals Call on President Obama to Ban FrackingA Big Fracking Lie: The extreme risks to people, economy and climate of the Obama plan to export liquified fracked gas, by Bill McKibben and Mike Tidwell, Politico, 1-14:“…Simply put, this gas needs to stay in the ground. If it’s dug up and exported, it will directly harm just about everyone in the U.S. economy while simultaneously making global warming worse. How much worse? Imagine adding the equivalent of more than 100 coal plants to U.S. pollution output or putting 78 million more cars on our roads. Yes, supporters say, but this gas would be replacing a lot of coal use overseas. And they’d be right. The only problem is we’d be replacing that coal with aggregate ‘life-cycle’ emissions from gas that are almost certainly worse than coal, creating new net damage for the global atmosphere…” Read more: politico.com

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chair calls for regulatory reform to prevent further devastating accidents like Elk River. But this wouldn’t protect us from fracking and frack waste accidents, since frack industry materials have been exempted from hazardous waste regulation. 1-29-14

Duke Fracking Tests Reveal Dangers Driller’s Data Missed Bloomberg 1-10-14

Ecowatch: Dr. David Suzuki on the false rail vs. pipelines argument about something we shouldn’t be doing at all — producing and shipping fracking and tar sands fuels. 1-21-14

Ellen Cantarow reports on pipelinesNo Pipe DreamIs Fracking About to Arrive on Your Doorstep? 1-14

Former Mobil vice-president, Louis W. Allstadt on well integrity:”…there are lots of good indications that plugging the well doesn’t really work long-term. There’s still some pressure down there even though it’s not enough pressure to be commercially produced. And sooner or later the steel casing there is going to rust out, and the cement sooner or later is going to crumble. We may have better cements now, we may have slightly better techniques of packing the cement and mud into the well bore to close it up, but even if nothing comes up through the fissures in the rock layers above, where it was fracked, those well bores will deteriorate over time. And there is at least one study showing that 100 percent of plugs installed in abandoned wells fail within 100 years and many of them much sooner…”  Allstadt on methane migration: “…the rock above the target zone is not necessarily impervious the way it was in the conventional wells. And to me that last point is at least as big as the volume. The industry will tell you that the mile or two between the zone that’s being fracked is not going to let anything come up.“But there are already cases where the methane gas has made it up into the aquifers and atmosphere. Sometimes through old well bores, sometimes through natural fissures in the rock. What we don’t know is just how much gas is going to come up over time. It’s a point most people haven’t gotten. It’s not just what’s happening today. We’re opening up channels for the gas to creep up to the surface and into the atmosphere. And methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas in the short term – less than 100 years – than carbon dioxide….” more…

Anthony Ingraffea discusses his latest research on well failure rates and the latest research on methane leakage rates: youtu.be/CpomAGWgeGs

Chemicals Found In Water At Fracking Sites Linked To Infertility, CancerExcerpts from the study abstract: “Hundreds of products containing more than 750 chemicals and components are potentially used throughout the extraction process, including over one hundred known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals.” and “The majority of water samples collected from sites in a drilling-dense region of Colorado exhibited more estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, or anti-androgenic activities than reference sites with limited nearby drilling operations.”  12-13

Geochemical evaluation of flowback brine from Marcellus gas wells inPennsylvania (Lara O. Haluszczak et al., Applied Geochemistry, 2012): “For total Radium (combined 226 Ra and 228 Ra) in flowback, the highest level reported is 6540 pCi/L.” EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) for total 226 Ra and 228 Ra in drinking water is 5 pCi/L. 

Michael Brune’s short, powerful editorial in New York Times on dangers of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) 11-15-13

Industry Word Games Mislead Americans on Fracking Skytruth 11-13dangersoffracking.com

Implications of Kasich budget bill (SB 59), passed in June 2013, for (lack of) management of radioactive frack waste 11-13

Liquified natural gas exports bad for climate, bad for business, and bad for the American people 11-13

Department of the Army opposes fracking in George Washington National Forest (2011 letter, new to us as of 10-13!)

Responses to industry-funded study on methane leakage: Robert Howarth press release, a report on financial ties of authors and publishers to fracking industry, a summary of flaws, and an Ecowatch article with further links to the science 9-13

New NOAA study documents high rates of methane leakage at frack sites, much higher than researchers expected 8-13

Reckless Endangerment While Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Government fails, public health suffers and industry profits from the shale oil boom: a new Earthworks report on government failure to protect people from fracking’s toxic emissions and serious health consequences 9-13

Social Costs of Fracking, a Food and Water Watch report, is the first detailed, long-term analysis of the social costs of fracking borne by rural Pennsylvania communities. It documents increased alcohol-related crimes, sexually transmitted diseases, truck accidents, and emergency room visits associated with fracking. 9-13

Censored EPA PA Fracking Water Contamination Presentation Published for First Time: DeSmog Blog 8-13

Health risks from benzene and noise pollution documented in West Virginia 8-13

Benzene air levels linked to human cancers (peer-reviewed study reported in Dispatch) 8-13

Study reveals pattern of radioactivity in drinking water wells close to fracking activity in TX. From the study results: “Arsenic, selenium, strontium, barium, and TDS [total dissolved solids] reached their highest concentrations in areas of active extraction in close proximity to natural gas wells (Figure 2 and SI Figure S2). Samples that exceeded the MCL for TDS, arsenic, and selenium were located an average of 1.1 km from the nearest natural gas well. Similarly, the highest values for both strontium and barium were over twice as high in areas less than 2 km from the nearest natural gas well compared to more distant gas wells.” Environmental Science and Technology 7-13

Former Mobil exec blasts oil companies and addresses climate impacts of frackingExcerpt: “Basically what the industry is doing is unloading all the costs of what it’s been doing onto the public. Just go out and build miles and miles of levees around New York City and build drainage systems and things like that. Obama is saying the same thing. We’ll go on producing natural gas and keep the cost low by having the taxpayers pick up the cost of dealing with the consequences of global warming. Obama proposed some very positive steps toward developing alternative energies but he is not addressing the impact that methane has on global warming…” 7-13

Radiological concerns with frack waste in Ohio Belcher and Resnikoff 6-13

Lawsuits against frackers on the rise 6-13

Sandra Steingraber commencement speech, SUNY Graduate School 5-13

Legal Fractures in Chemical Disclosure Laws: Harvard study reveals “serious flaws” in Frac Focus disclosure system (First link to study, second to press about it) “Why the Voluntary Chemical Disclosure Registry FracFocus Fails as a Regulatory Compliance Tool” 4-23-13

We want out: Health impacts from fracking air emissions 5-13Scientific, economic, social, environmental, and health policy concerns related to shale gas extraction, New Solutions, a Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, 23(1), 2013

Rosy Forecast of Cheap Oil Abundance, Economic Boom a Myth  Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq AhmedTruthout Op-Ed 12-31-12
New report: NYC methane emissions reveal “natural” gas is as bad for climate as other fossil fuels. 3-25-13

Shale Gas and the Fairy Tale of its CO2 Reductions (8-12): “…Natural gas remains a net contributor of CO2, regardless of its comparatively low carbon intensity. This is due to the multiplicity of its uses. Unlike coal, which is primarily used for electricity generation, natural gas is used for generating electricity as well as directly in commercial, residential and industrial sectors. Therefore, when the price falls as it did during the shale gas boom, consumption of natural gas gets a boost across all sectors—not just electricity generation. Sixty-six million metric tons, or 47%, of the increase in CO2 from natural gas occurred in commercial, residential and industrial sectors (Exhibits 7, 8 & 9) where natural gas isn’t necessarily displacing a dirtier fuel like coal. The 50 million tons it saved from substituting coal generation by virtue of its low price came at the cost of generating 66 million additional tons of CO2 from other sectors.Once we add in methane leakages to its CO2 emissions, natural gas could surpass coal in terms of its overall impact on our climate (Wigley 2011 and The New York Times 2011).


And, just like coal, natural gas from shale rock also has a variety of local environmental impacts. When you combine these impacts —global and local, natural gas looks more and more like coal…”
NaturePreliminary data reports at American Geophysical Union conference of methane leakage rates during shale production (not counting transportation and delivery) are up to 9%. 1-13

Huffington Post: Scientist Dr. Anthony Ingraffea and actor Mark Ruffalo on fracking 4-5-13; Fracking is No Breakthrough 3-6-13

Truth-out: US Climate Bomb is Ticking: What the Gas Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know 3-6-13

PA is underreporting well failures. Roughly nine percent of PA’s newest shale wells are already leaking. “Recently drilled wells have a worse track record than those drilled years ago.” “Two large industry studies have reported that, over 30 years, and depending on the age of a well, 2 to 60 percent of oil and gas wells fail.” This will have huge consequences for the climate, since “methane has climate changing impacts that, depending on time frame, are 30 to 100 times more destructive than those from carbon dioxide.” Even the Susquehanna River is now bubbling with methane.Desmogblog 3-13

Dallas, WV 2-23-13: National Response Center reports that 336,000 gallons of toxic, radioactive frack waste were released into tributary of  Wheeling Creek when a valve was left open. Why can I not find any media coverage on this story?! Update 2-26: now covered by NBC Columbus, thanks to our tip. Why did it take Ohio activists to get attention to this disaster?  Note: WV DEP apparently took Noble Energy’s word for the amount spilled. NBC therefore gives a much lower figure than the NRC report stated but still an outrageous 97,000 gallons of toxic, radioactive frack waste. No charges have yet been brought against the company. And WV media, apparently alerted by NBC Columbus, finally also picked up the story.
“How fracking’s catch-22 shields industry and throws citizens under the bus,” 2/21-13  “‘We just want our day in court.’ — Dusty Hagy of Romance, West Virginia  — In 1989, Dusty and Tamera Hagy bought 81 rural acres in Jackson County, West Virginia.  Twenty-one years later, the Hagys sued 4 natural gas drilling firms alleging the natural gas wells drilled on their property in 2008 contaminated their drinking water and caused physical harm.”  More… 
Radioactivity of frack waste explained: Timesonline (Beaver PA) 1-28-13

New report on livestock diseases and deaths getting wide coverage: NBC News, NRDC magThe Nation, and elsewhere. 

Five farmers and their fracking stories 2-20-13

More on impact on organic farming 4-13

Risks to workers and other stats on dangers from the industry

Frac Sand: impacts on health and communities 4-13

Quantifying the health and environmental benefits of wind power to natural gas, Donald McCubbin and B. K. Sovacool, Energy Policy, 53 (2013)

Radioactivity exposure from horizontally fractured well waste, Ivan White, National Council on Radiation Protection 10-12

Impact on dairy farming

Peer-reviewed study: NY can meet energy needs through solar, wind, water, and geothermal by 2030. The abstract concludes, “The conversion would reduce NYS’s end-use power demand 37% and stabilize energy prices since fuel costs would be zero. It would create more jobs than lost because nearly all NYS energy would now be produced in-state. NYS air pollution mortality and its costs would decline by 4000 (1200–7600) deaths/yr, and $33 (10–76) billion/yr (3% of 2010 NYS GDP), respectively, alone repaying the 271 GW installed power needed within 17 years, before accounting for electricity sales. NYS’s own emission decreases would reduce 2050 U.S. climate costs by $3.2 billion/yr.” Jacobsen et al., Energy Policy, Vol. 57, June 2013

Shale Gas: How Often Do Fracked Wells Leak? 1-9-13: “So what is it, myth or reality, when industry claims that leaks are rare? The scientific truth is irrefutable says Ingraffea: ‘Fluid migration from faulty wells is a well-known chronic problem with an expected rate of occurrence.’ Inadequate well construction and monitoring remains a persistent industry problem.  The health implications are also serious. The migration of methane or fracking fluid has repeatedly contaminated groundwater across North America or polluted the atmosphere with methane, a potent greenhouse gas.”

Great interview with Anthony Ingraffea on Truthout (1-5-13) with lots of information and this story: “…Ingraffea mentioned that on Halliburton Corporation’s website the corporation lists hydrochloric acid (HCl) among its fracking chemicals. Halliburton also notes that HCl is commonly used in preparing black olives. Ingraffea deadpans: “It’s really nice to know that,” he says…”So am I now supposed to be less fearful of black olives?” Pause, laughter. “Or more fearful of the hydrochloric acid used in the frack?”…”I don’t know what the point is. Obviously, using 50 thousand gallons of hydrochloric acid, and it has to be brought by truck, and stored on the site, and it’s injected [without being] diluted … ’cause it has to go in there and do a job, which is dilute all the crap in the perforations [of the shale]. So to tell me it’s also in black olives doesn’t inform me. It irritates me.” Pause, more laughter. “And I’m gonna continue to eat black olives, the passion fruit of the Sicilians.”

Great Sandra Steingraber piece: the case against fracking.

The Costs of Fracking, Penn. Environmental Research and Policy Center, Sept. 2012

Columbus Dispatch, 9-3-12: Fracking waste highly radioactive

Fracking Investigation: The bloody battlefields of Arkansas 8-27-12

Alternet Aug. 15, 2012: Republican NY State Senator, Greg Ball, says it’s essential to eliminate the ‘Halliburton loophole,’ which exempts fracking from compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act: “Clean water has nothing to do with politics,” says Ball, a Republican. “It shows why politics suck in America.’ Ball says citizens need to stop pointing at each other and focus on the real problem, which is the amount of money and influence currently corrupting the government, the red-carpet treatment some industries receive.” From Toxic Wastewater Dumped in Streets and Rivers at Night: Gas Profiteers Getting Away With Shocking Environmental Crimes

Ex-oil worker blasts shale gas/oil industry 

Bill McKibben on climate  Rolling Stone Aug. 2, 2012

Civil Society Institute Clean Energy Agenda

Physicians for Social Responsibility on health and environmental risks  June 2012

Fracking Experiences from ‘Victory Field’ Wetzel County, WV
Report by Athenians Al Blazevicius, Ann Brown, Ken Edwards, Jane Jacobs, Bruce Kuhre, Michelle Papai, Celia Wetzel

The Case for a Ban on Fracking
Food and Water Watch

Pipe Dreams: What the Gas Industry Doesn’t Want you to Know about Fracking and U.S. Energy Independence, Food and Water Watch

Truth-out: Fracking in Depth

Life for fracking workers in Williston, ND

Worst onshore oil spill in U.S. history Pipeline failure didn’t have to happen

Is the Natural Gas Industry Buying Academics? The Atlantic, July 2012

Ohio University Mineral Rights Committee recommends moratorium on leasing on most campuses. Details economic and environmental concerns and community survey results, overwhelmingly against leasing for fracking. Adopted by OU Trustees 6-12

Sec of Energy Subcommittee Nov 2011 report

Fracking voices

List of the harmed: stories of almost 900 families and individuals who have not signed non-disclosure agreements, often required for monetary settlements by industry, and who can therefore speak

2010 NRDC petition to USEPA to take away oil & gas RCRA exemptions

Water

Dimock PA water unsafe, a newly published report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), confirms, putting EPA‘s testing results into an entirely new light. See discussion at DeSmogBlog. 6-2-16

Ohio frackers using more water: The Columbus Dispatch 2-8-16

Pa. water contamination turns out to be much higher than reported. 2-16

Marcellus drillers fined for contaminating 17 drinking water wells 8-15

Radiation at 60 times higher than legal limits found upstream of Pa. drinking water intake 7-15

Study shows dangerous contamination in water wells above Barnett Shale: WFAA.com on the study 6-15

New study concludes commonly used testing methods may underestimate the total radioactivity of liquid waste produced by Marcellus fracking wells. 4-15

Factcheck.org refutes Sen. Inhofe’s claim that fracking hasn’t caused groundwater contamination: “…Anthony Ingraffea, a Cornell civil and environmental engineering professor, told us in a phone interview that discussing contamination related to the frack per se isn’t useful. ‘The simpler question to ask is, “Is there any instance in which oil and gas development, writ large, has contaminated peoples’ drinking water?” And the answer is, thousands. Thousands of cases.’…” 3-27-15

New research indicates “that discharge and accidental spills of OGW [oil and gas waste] to waterways pose risks to both human health and the environment.” Harkness, et al. Iodide, Bromide, and Ammonium in Hydraulic Fracturing and Oil and Gas Wastewaters: Environmental Implications. Environmental Science and Technology, 2015.

New peer-reviewed research: Oil and gas wells and their integrity: Implications for shale and unconventional resource exploitation, Davies, R. et al., Marine and Petroleum Geology, in press, 2014:

“Of the 8030 wells targeting the Marcellus shale inspected in Pennsylvania between 2005 and 2013, 6.3% of these have been reported to the authorities for infringements related to well barrier or integrity failure. In a separate study of 3533 Pennsylvanian wells monitored between 2008 and 2011, there were 85 examples of cement or casing failures, 4 blowouts and 2 examples of gas venting.”

The article also notes that Ohio has Ohio 9500 unplugged orphaned wells and plans to plug 524 of them. Orphaned wells provide channels for movement of methane, frack fluids, and waste. Many of these are unmapped. Ohio does not monitor active, plugged, or abandoned wells for potential water contamination. Even plugged wells can become conduits, since the plugging is often unsound, especially historically and due to low Ohio standards. Note that the 9500 figure is probably a vast underestimate based on these numbers: the Ohio RBDMS database shows that Ohio has had at least 265,902 wells with around 70,000 operating wells. From 1965 – 2013, 41,928 wells were plugged, according to ODNR. Subtracting (~70k + 42k) from ~266k leaves more than 150,000 wells unaccounted for.

Chemicals Found In Water At Fracking Sites Linked To Infertility, Cancer. Kassotis, et al. Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region, Endocrinology, March 2014, 155(3):897–907.  Excerpts from the study abstract: “Hundreds of products containing more than 750 chemicals and components are potentially used throughout the extraction process, including over one hundred known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals.” and “The majority of water samples collected from sites in a drilling-dense region of Colorado exhibited more estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, or anti-androgenic activities than reference sites with limited nearby drilling operations.”  The areas feed the Colorado River, which also contains “moderate levels” of endocrine-disruptors. 12-13

PA/WV water consumption report 10-13

Censored EPA  PA Fracking Water Contamination Presentation Published for First Time: DeSmog Blog 8-13

Texas community running out of water. The Guardian 8-13

Portage County village, Garrettsville OH discovers methane and brines in water supplies. 7-13

Study reveals pattern of radioactivity in drinking water wells close to fracking activity in TX. From the study results: “Arsenic, selenium, strontium, barium, and TDS [total dissolved solids] reached their highest concentrations in areas of active extraction in close proximity to natural gas wells (Figure 2 and SI Figure S2). Samples that exceeded the MCL for TDS, arsenic, and selenium were located an average of 1.1 km from the nearest natural gas well. Similarly, the highest values for both strontium and barium were over twice as high in areas less than 2 km from the nearest natural gas well compared to more distant gas wells.” Environmental Science and Technology 7-13

Radiological concerns with frack waste in Ohio Belcher and Resnikoff 6-13

New Duke University study finds ethane and propane as well as methane in water wells associated with nearby shale extraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 6-13

Another case of extensive intentional dumping in Ohio How long was this going on before the perpetrator was caught? How many previous violations did this company have and continue in business with no fines or other sanctions from ODNR? Will this corporation be allowed to resume business (as usual)? These are questions that remain to be answered… 6-13

Michigan experiencing water scarcity due to fracking water consumption 6-13

New report:  Fracking is draining western U.S. water 4-13

Three Michigan wells consumed 42 million gallons of water in two years. 3-13

PA report shows understating of violations, leakage, and well failures 3-5-13

Dallas, WV 2-23-13: National Response Center reports that 336,000 gallons of toxic, radioactive frack waste were released into tributary of  Wheeling Creek when a valve was left open.  Reported on Skytruth.org 2-22-13. Why can I not find any media coverage on this story?!

Intentional frack waste dumping proliferates in Ohio: hazardous substances found in rivers from this dumping include benzene, toluene, (from the more than 250,000 gallons dumped into the Mahoning River) and “significant concentrations of barium…” (from the 800,000 gallons dumped into Rock Run in Washington County). 2-13

Alberta leak from well into groundwater confirmed 12-21-12

Ingraffea, A. Fluid migration mechanisms and recent experiences in the Marcellus  Brief summary: The most recent experience with shale gas wells in the Pennsylvania Marcellus play reflects long term, world-wide industry data with respect to new wells with compromised structural integrity. Operator-wide statistics in Pennsylvania show that about 6-7% of new wells drilled in each of the past three years have compromised structural integrity. 1-13

Truth and Lies about Well Construction November 2012

Radioactivity in Shale Waste November 2012

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Well Leaks Explained, Oct. 2012

Hydroquest report on implications of fracking in Muskingum Watershed including data on casing failure rates, 10-12

The Water Footprint of Shale:  consumption, contamination pathways, and economics, Sept. 2012

Columbus Dispatch, 9-3-12: Fracking waste highly radioactive and referenced USGS 2011 report on radioactivity in Appalachian Basin oil and gas waste

Leroy Township fields still bubbling with methane July 2012 (“The data suggests methane is entering the local fault/fracture system at a considerable depth and traveling laterally apparently thousands of meters before reaching the surface or a residential water well.”)

Well failure is inevitable: Chip Northrup, How Gas Wells Leak

Toxic Wastewater Dumped in Streets and Rivers at Night: Gas Profiteers Getting Away With Shocking Environmental Crimes Alternet Aug. 2012

Physicians for Social Responsibility on fracking fluids June 2012

NRDC: Cracks in the Foundation July 2012

Bradford County PA well failures reported July 2012

Marcellus Shale Drillers in Pennsylvania Amass 1614 Violations Since 2008 Pennsylvania Land Trust Association

Ombwatch, The Right to Know, the Responsibility to Protect: “State Actions are Inadequate to Ensure Effective Disclosure of the Chemicals Used in Natural Gas Fracking” July 2012

Injection wells: the hidden risks Propublica June 2012

Gas drilling triggers backyard geysers in W.Va.  www.wtov9 June 2012

Chesapeake settles for $1.6 million for well contamination6-12

USEPA Pavilion Draft report confirmed  Myers, 2012

The Truth About Fracking
Chris Mooney, Scientific American

Methane Contamination of Drinking Water Accompanying Gas-well Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing  Osborn et al., Duke University, 2011

Natural Gas Drilling Produces Radioactive Wastewater
Abrahm Lustgarten, Scientific American, 2011

Worst onshore oil spill in U.S. history: Pipeline failure didn’t have to happen

Bainbridge, OH fracking resulted in well contamination of 43 households in 2007 Case settled 2011

see also acfan injection well page

Air and Climate

Bloomberg: Methane is leaking everywhere (cites PA but Ohio is likely worse with possibly over 200,000 wells no longer producing but not plugged.) 6-16

And a new report by the Center for American Progress reveals that onshore oil and gas industry’s methane emissions totaled more than 48 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e, in 2014. Discussed in Ecowatch 6-21-16

When the Wind Blows: new report on links between body burden and air emissions in Wyoming gas fields. Coming Clean, 6-16

Fracking-Related Industrial Growth to Boost Greenhouse Gas Pollution by as Much as 19 Coal Plants: new report. 2-29-16

No, natural gas is not cleaner than coal. Compendium of the science here and new information on the inaccuracies — severe underestimates — of equipment readings by EDF and other studies here. Updated analyses of data reviewed and linked here 2-16

Aliso Canyon methane eruption highlights dangers to climate and air quality from gas and oil infrastructure 1-16

New Howarth analysis:  Methane emissions and climatic warming risk from hydraulic fracturing and shale gas development: implications for policy.  Energy and Emission Control Technologies 2015:3 45–54. Abstract:

…When methane emissions are included, the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas is significantly larger than that of conventional natural gas, coal, and oil. Because of the increase in shale gas development over recent years, the total greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use in the USA rose between 2009 and 2013, despite the decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. Given the projections for continued expansion of shale gas production, this trend of increasing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels is predicted to continue through 2040.

Large study finds methane emissions from oil and gas operations in Barnett shale 90% higher than government assumptions. Coverage and background in Inside Climate News. 12-15

When a breath is hard to catch: asthma, air quality, and oil and gas activities in Denton, TX August 2015

Fine particulate matter linked to early death in peer-reviewed retrospective study of 500,000 Americans 9-15

Engineer: EDF-sponsored University of Texas study underestimates national methane emissions at natural gas production sites due to instrument sensor failure.  Research article published in Energy Science and Engineering  and cited by New York Times.  8-5-15

Characterizing Fugitive Methane Emissions in the Barnett Shale Area Using a Mobile Laboratory Xin Lan *, Robert Talbot , Patrick Laine , and Azucena Torres, Environ. Sci. Technol., 201549 (13), pp 8139–8146, DOI: 10.1021/es5063055, July 7, 2015:

“It was found that CH4 emissions from compressor stations and gas processing plants were substantially higher, with some “super emitters” having emission rates up to 3447 kg/h, more then 36,000-fold higher than reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP).”

A new study shows a marked rise in radon levels in Pennsylvania homes since 2004 and the advent of widespread fracking. 4-15

David R. Brown et al. of SW PA Environmental Health Project: Human exposure to unconventional natural gas development: A public health demonstration of periodic high exposure to chemical mixtures in ambient air Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, published online 3-4-15

The problem of methane.  Gas as bad as coal for climate? PBS Nova 2-15

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on extensive methane leakage from gas wells, plugged and unplugged: Mary Kang et al., “Direct measurements of methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania,”  PNAS  v. 111, #51, 12-23-14

Great review of recent air impact research with links: Inside Climate News 12-30-14

Autism risk linked to particulate air pollution in Harvard School of Public Health study  Reuters 12-18-14

Center for Public Integrity ongoing reports: Big Oil, Bad Air

Climate Impacts of Natural Gas Production and LNG Export-8-30-14 

NIOSH documents unsafe exposures to benzene for frack workers by up to 40 times recommended exposure limits. 8-14

Scientists’ letter on need for U.S. government to accurately evaluate methane’s global warming potential. Center for Biological Diversity 7-29-14

Energy Department numbers show liquified natural gas potentially worse for climate than coal 6-14

ACFAN and Buckeye Forest Council join petitioners nationwide in Earthjustice petition to USEPA to regulate fracking air pollution under Clean Air Act: Petition to USEPA: EPA must list oil and gas wells and associated equipment as an area source category and set national air toxics standards to protect public health 5-14

Just accepted for publication: Highly Elevated Atmospheric Levels of Volatile Organic Compounds in the Uintah Basin, UtahHelmig, D. et al., Environmental Science and Technology3-13-14. News story on the research: Chemical & Engineering News, 3-25-14. From the study abstract:

“These measurements identify highly elevated levels of atmospheric alkane hydrocarbons with enhancement rates of C2 – C6 non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) mean mole fractions during temperature inversion events in 2013 at 200-300 times above the regional and seasonal background. Elevated atmospheric NMHC mole fractions coincided with build-up of ambient 1-hour ozone to levels exceeding 150 ppbv (parts per billion by volume). The total annual mass flux of C2-C7 VOC was estimated at 194 ± 56 x 106 kg yr-1, equivalent to the annual VOC emissions of a fleet of ~100 million automobiles. Total annual fugitive emission of the aromatic compounds benzene and toluene, considered air toxics, were estimated at 1.6 ± 0.4 x 106 and 2.0 ± 0.5 x 106 kg yr-1, respectively. These observations reveal a strong causal link between oil and gas emissions, accumulation of air toxics, and significant surface production in the atmospheric surface layer.” [emphasis added]

Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Big Oil and Bad Air on the Texas Prairie, a multimedia report from Center for Public Integrity, Inside Climate News, and the Weather Channel(!): full report here.

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea responds to research published in Science, 2-14-14

NY Times on new research on high methane emissions from oil and gas: (Emissions of Methane in U.S. Exceed Estimates, Study FindsBy 11-25-13):

Emissions of the greenhouse gas methane due to human activity were roughly 1.5 times greater in the United States in the middle of the last decade than prevailing estimates, according to a new analysis by 15 climate scientists published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The analysis also said that methane discharges in Texas and Oklahoma, where oil and gas production was concentrated at the time, were 2.7 times greater than conventional estimates. Emissions from oil and gas activity alone could be five times greater than the prevailing estimate, the report said.” More…

Naomi Klein: How Science is Telling Us All to Revolt 10-29-13

Air monitoring at WV well sites reveals high levels of benzene10-13 and an update: Health Dept. Concerned About Benzene Emissions Near Local Gas Drilling Sites 12-13

Responses to industry-funded study on methane leakage: Robert Howarth press release, a report on financial ties of authors and publishers to fracking industry, a summary of flaws, and an Ecowatch article with further links to the science 9-13

Scientists with CIRES (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences) report methane leakage six to twelve times higher than USEPA estimates. NOAA 8-13

Former Mobil exec blasts oil companies and addresses climate impacts of frackingExcerpt: “Basically what the industry is doing is unloading all the costs of what it’s been doing onto the public. Just go out and build miles and miles of levees around New York City and build drainage systems and things like that. Obama is saying the same thing. We’ll go on producing natural gas and keep the cost low by having the taxpayers pick up the cost of dealing with the consequences of global warming. Obama proposed some very positive steps toward developing alternative energies but he is not addressing the impact that methane has on global warming…” 7-13

Dangerous levels of benzene air emissions documented in West Virginia 8-13

Benzene air levels linked to human cancers (peer-reviewed study reported in Dispatch) 8-13

Report: NYC methane emissions reveal “natural” gas is as bad for climate as other fossil fuels. 3-25-13

Analysis of misleading reports suggesting U.S. producing less coal–it’s just being exported. 3-29-13

Air pollution from compressor station triple allowable limits 1-13

Preliminary data reports at American Geophysical Union conference of methane leakage rates up to 9%:  Nature 1-13

Shale Gas and the Fairy Tale of its CO2 Reductions 8-12

Health impacts of air emissions quantified 4-13

Ohio doctor warns frack well neighbors: Don’t spend all day at home, Akron Beacon Journal, 1-24-13

Worker health jeopardized by silica dust and lung cancer risks; new protective rules long delayed 4-13

Benzene and other air pollution surge with fracking in rural PA (2-13): “The DEP’s data show that drilling has brought large emissions to rural counties that previously had very little. Bradford County, for instance, had emissions of 261 tons of NOx in 2010, according to DEP’s air emissions inventory for that year. But in 2011, emissions of NOx from the shale gas industry climbed to 2,621 tons.

Joe Osborne, of the Group Against Smog and Pollution, says that for people close to the wells, the largest concern is not so much ozone precursors, but hazardous air pollutants.

‘These are pollutants that are often carcinogenic or neurotoxic, cause reproductive problems, things like benzene or hexane or toluene. If you’re living very near a source these pollutants can potentially be present in concentrations that can cause a health effect just based on ambient air exposure.’

In Washington County, for instance, shale gas drilling released three tons of benzene in 2011, according to the DEP inventory. According to the state’s own data from 2010, there were only .3 tons of benzene released in the county the year before.”

Bloomberg.com2-8-13, reports that gas and oil production is the second biggest  greenhouse gas (ghg) emitter. [Note: the USEPA data underestimate the actual ghg from fracked gas and oil by not using the latest scientifically based numbers on methane’s global warming potential. See Howarth et al. Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Systems, listed below.

Gilman, J.B. et al, in NOAA study, find propane and other ozone precursors from gas and oil operations four to nine times higher in rural CO than in Houston, Texas, and Pasadena, California: “Source signature of volatile organic compounds from oil and natural gas operations in northeastern Colorado,”  Environmental Science & Technology, January 2013

Colborn et al., An Exploratory Study of Air Quality near Natural Gas Operations, 2012, finding some compounds “at concentrations greater than those at which prenatally exposed children in urban studies had lower developmental and IQ scores.”  “Methylene chloride, a toxic solvent not reported in products used in drilling or hydraulic fracturing, was detected 73% of the time, several times in high concentrations.” Summary of findings and implications here, such as “Chemical concentrations were below federal exposure limits, but above concentrations found to have health effects in scientific studies.  IMPLICATION: Government standards do not take into account low-level, chronic exposure experienced by the increasing numbers of people in close proximity to gas operations. Some VOCs are endocrine disrupting chemicals, which can cause adverse effects at low-concentrations, even in parts per trillion, for which there are no government standards yet.”

Physicians for Social Responsibility: Natural Gas: The Newest Danger for Global Warming June 2012

Howarth, Ingraffea, Shindell, Phillips, and Townsend-Small, Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Systems, 2012 concludes:  “For the 20-year time frame, Shindell et al. (2009) provide a mean estimate of 105 for the global warming potential. Using this value, Howarth et al. (2012) calculated that methane contributes 44% of the entire GHG inventory of the U.S., including carbon dioxide and all other gases from all human activities. Hence while methane is only causing about 1/5 of the century-scale warming due to US emissions, it is responsible for nearly half the warming impact of current US emissions over the next 20 years. At this time scale, the methane emissions from natural gas systems contribute 17% of the entire GHG inventory of the U.S., for all gases from all sources. We repeat that these estimates may be low [newer studies agree], and that the gradual replacement of conventional natural gas by shale gas is predicted to increase these methane fluxes by 40% to 60% or more (Howarth et al. 2012).”

Human Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions from Development of Unconventional Natural Gas Resources, Colorado School of Public Health, 2012

Venting and Leaking of Methane from Shale Gas Development
Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro, and Anthony Ingraffea, 2012

Air and health study results from Dish, Texas

Ohio EPA Finalizes Air Permits for Fracking
EcoWatch

Pétron, et. al., CO Front Range research report on air pollution levels from venting, flaring, and methane leakage 2012

Report on Pétron et al. in Nature, Feb. 2012

Estimated Required Truck Trips Per Well  NY DEC

Health (see also air and water entries above)

January 2016: New report (discussed here): Elliott, E. et al, “A systematic evaluation of chemicals in hydraulic-fracturing fluids and wastewater for reproductive and developmental toxicity,” Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2016), 1–10).

Census documents rise in deaths in oil and gas industry 9-15

Fine particulate matter linked to early death in peer-reviewed retrospective study of 500,000 Americans 9-15

David R. Brown et al., of SW PA Environmental Health Project, Human exposure to unconventional natural gas development: A public health demonstration of periodic high exposure to chemical mixtures in ambient air Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, published online 3-4-15

New research indicates “that discharge and accidental spills of OGW [oil and gas waste] to waterways pose risks to both human health and the environment.” Harkness, et al. Iodide, Bromide, and Ammonium in Hydraulic Fracturing and Oil and Gas Wastewaters: Environmental Implications. Environmental Science and Technology, 2015.

Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, PA Environ. Health Perspectives, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 1-15

Center for Public Integrity ongoing reports: Big Oil, Bad Air

Autism risk linked to particulate air pollution in Harvard School of Public Health study  Reuters 12-18-14

NIOSH documents unsafe exposures to benzene for frack workers by up to 40 times recommended exposure limits. 8-14

Blackout in the Gas Patch: How PA residents are left in the dark about health and enforcement (Note: Ohio is even worse on disclosure, monitoring, and enforcement) 8-14

NIOSH on worker exposure to silica dust 7-14 From a concerned reader of the article: “One of the recommendations is for the industry to STOP using silica sand altogether.  Air purifiying respirators are not enough to control exposure. Note all the other recommendations for minimizing exposures to workers on wellpads.  Are any of these mitigating measures being carried out in communities where sand mining and processing is going on? We know workers are exposed. What about adults and their children and other already compromised individuals: are they being exposed as well and without protections?…”

ACFAN and Buckeye Forest Council join petitioners nationwide in Earthjustice petition to USEPA to regulate fracking air pollution under Clean Air Act: Petition to USEPA: EPA must list oil and gas wells and associated equipment as an area source category and set national air toxics standards to protect public health 5-14

Houston Chronicle exclusive: Drilling boom, deadly legacy: Despite hundreds of oil field fatalities, federal government does little to monitor or safeguard onshore workers 2-22-14

Residential proximity to frack facilities linked to higher rate of birth defects. Environmental Health Perspectives, Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado 1-14  And a critique of misinterpretations of the Birth Outcomes study. 2-13-14

Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Big Oil and Bad Air on the Texas Prairie, a multimedia report from Center for Public Integrity, Inside Climate News, and the Weather Channel(!) 2-14

Chemicals Found In Water At Fracking Sites Linked To Infertility, CancerExcerpts from the study abstract: “Hundreds of products containing more than 750 chemicals and components are potentially used throughout the extraction process, including over one hundred known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals.” and “The majority of water samples collected from sites in a drilling-dense region of Colorado exhibited more estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, or anti-androgenic activities than reference sites with limited nearby drilling operations.”  The areas feed the Colorado River, which also contains “moderate levels” of endocrine-disruptors. 12-13

PA League of Women Voters, SHALE GAS EXTRACTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH, A Resource Guide 12-13

Prevention Starts Here: a Breast Cancer Fund blog on fracking, including Sandra Steingraber on the Right to Know about Fracking Chemicals

British study on health impacts of noise pollution from Heathrow airport has implications for fracking. Though these connections are not discussed in the article, the documented associations between noise and health are relevant, given the extended high-decibel noise from compressors, flaring, truck traffic, and other frack industry processes.

Health risks from benzene and noise pollution documented in West Virginia 8-13

Benzene air levels linked to human cancer (peer-reviewed study reported in Dispatch) 7-13

Study: Co-exposures of two carcinogens doubles cancer risk 6-13

Fracking ourselves to death in PA 5-13

Human Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions from Development of Unconventional Natural Gas Resources, Colorado School of Public Health, 2012

Deadly Gas Industry Coverup Revealed by NC5 KREX News Room by John Dzenitis 8-5-11: “Before 42-year-old Jose Lara of Rifle died, he recorded a six-hour deposition detailing his work in the natural gas industry.

“‘If I would have known the damage those tanks would do to me, I would never have cleaned them,’ an emotional Lara said through a Spanish translator in front of a camera and room full of attorneys.“Dying from pancreatic and liver cancer, Lara described his job with Rain for Rent, a California-based company with a branch in Rifle. His job was to power-wash waste water tanks for numerous natural gas drilling companies. For years, Lara said he was not supplied with a respirator, protective gear, or any warning of what he could be exposed to. ‘The chemicals, the smell was so bad,’ Lara said. ‘Once I got out, I couldn’t stop throwing up. I couldn’t even talk.'” More…

Worker health jeopardized by silica dust and lung cancer risks. Implications for nearby neigbhors of wellpads and transfer sites? 4-13

OSHA fines drilling company $22,400 for seven serious violations, at least one of which resulted in worker fatality. So much for the valuing of human life. 3-5-13

Stories of impacted peopleFracking voicesList of the harmed

Health problems documented May 2012

McArthur Fellow Wilma Subra on health impacts July 2012

Findings and implications of Colborn et al, 2012 Air Pollution study

Natural Gas Operations From a Public Health Perspective
Colborn et al., 2011, Internat. J. of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment 

Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health Michelle Bamberger and Robert E. Oswald, 2012

Taking the Handle Off the Fracking Pump: Human Rights and the Role of Public Health Inquiry in an Age of Extreme Fossil Fuel Extraction
Sandra Steingraber, Dept. of Environmental Studies, Ithaca College, 2012

Air and health study results from Dish, Texas

Breast Cancer Rates Climb Up
Denton Record-Chronicle

Natural Gas Flowback: How The Texas Natural Gas Boom Affects Health and Safety, Texas OGAP, 2011

Frac silica (“sand”) unloaded next to day care center

OSHA and NIOSH issue worker silica hazard alert. UPenn Law discussion of alert.

Potential exposure-related human health effects: a literature review, Colorado School of Public Health, Witter et al., 2008

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: an Endocrine Society scientific statement, 2009

Need for Precautionary Principle  Finkel and Law, 2011

social impacts

Disproportionate effects on women and children: Fracking from a feminist perspective: Presentation (text) and video by Dr. Wendy Lynne Lee, Bloomsburg University, PA

Ecosystem impacts

Risks to biodiversity from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shalesErik Kiviat, ANNALS OF THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, 2013

USGS: Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Likely Harmed Threatened Kentucky Fish Species 8-13

Forest fragmentation and land disturbance from fracking: USGS PA study released 3-13

Quantifying the health and environmental benefits of wind power to natural gas, Donald McCubbin and B. K. Sovacool, Energy Policy, 53 (2013) The research includes analysis of avian mortality and concludes, “The number of bird and bat fatalities due to wind turbine collisions is actually very small compared to deaths due to collisions with buildings, towers, vehicles, power lines and other structures (Erickson et al., 2001, p. 4; National Research Council, 2007, p. 71). A new generation of wind turbines appears to lead to fewer deaths than before (U.S. General Accounting Office, 2005, p. 13; Smallwood, 2010). More importantly, though harder to precisely estimate, is the potential for climate change to cause irreversible harm to bird populations. Compared to wind power, fossil-based power generation is shown to have a greater impact on bird populations after accounting for all effects, especially climate change.”

Given the recent death of 7500 migrating birds in New Brunswick in one night (“managers at the liquefied natural gas import facility estimate that about 7,500 migrating birds, mostly small songbirds, were drawn into the flare and died from its heat“), the cost of fracking alone to bird mortality must be better assessed.

Adams, Fernow Research Report, USFS Effects of Dev. of Natural Gas Well and Associated Pipeline on…Fernow Experimental Forest 2011