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Gas Industry Spin Can’t Cover Up Air Problems Associated with Fracking

It’s like the gas industry and their apologists are living in a different universe from the rest of us, when it comes to the risks from shale gas extraction via fracking.  Call it the “Spin Zone.”

At a Wall Street Journal conference last week, Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon told attendees: “I don’t know of any problem with air pollution from fracking in Fort Worth” Texas.  McClendon peevishly referred to air pollution concerns raised by Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay [whom McClendon refused to share the stage with] as “environmental nonsense.”  Since then, industry-sponsored posts like this and this argue against links between fracking and air pollution.

Well, read on.  Then decide who’s spouting “nonsense”:

Up north in the Mountain States, the problem is just as serious:

Finally, let’s not forget the 2011 Duke University study proving that drinking water wells near fracking sites have 17 times more methane than wells not located near fracking, and that this extra methane has a chemical fingerprint showing that it’s been brought up from deep drilling zones. Fracking operations have generated billions of gallons of radiation-laced toxic wastewater that we can’t manage properly and forced families to abandon their homes because of dangerous levels of arsenic, benzene and toluene in their blood.

The drillers remain in deep denial, routinely choosing to “circle the wagons” rather than to acknowledge environmental and public health problems.  As a Wall Street Journal conference blogger pointedly observed, after McClendon was accused of denying problems and demonizing critics, his next move was to do just that: deny and demonize.

Well, the WSJ conference attendees weren’t buying the drillers’ “don’t worry, just buy more gas” message.  After Thursday’s debate with Riverkeeper, an astonishing 49% of this business-friendly audience said that we need federal regulation of the gas industry.  Only 7% thought the answer to our

problems lies with self-regulation by the frackers.

Fracking and its impact on public health, in particular our children’s health, is a serious issue that calls for swift action—action that the gas industry has repeatedly tried to block.  As we write this, in New York, the industry is fighting against a legislative proposal for a public health impact assessment which hundreds of medical professionals have joined community activists and environmentalists in supporting.

The frackers can spin the issue all they want, but the public isn’t buying it.  They know where the “nonsense” is coming from.

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