Who watches fracking operations? Not the regulators, apparently!
So, apparently there’s this new method to extract natural gas from deep underground, bringing to the surface sweet fossil fuels. Depending on who you listen to, hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking” for short, is either an extension of mankind’s ability to make money using fossil fuels, or just another way to exploit the planet’s natural resources. Apparently, it’s also a great way to get rid of unwanted chemicals, some of them radioactive, and even diesel fuel.
Of course, you’d expect that the fracking industry would be highly regulated to make sure that they’re using chemicals that are not a danger to the residents in areas they are working. It is, sort of, and apparently the federal regulations are treated more like suggestions, as the fracking industry is essentially self-governed, self-reporting, and self-policing. As far as methamphetamine labs go, I found it interesting that there are legal and illegal labs producing the stuff, specifically C10H15N or N-methyl-alpha-methylphenethylamine, and is indeed prescribed, albeit rarely, for ADHD or obesity. Illegal meth labs, on the other hand, are very dangerous, not only as an explosion hazard, but as a waypoint for highly-addictive crystal meth, guns, money, and anyone who wants any of these items.
In order to feed our addition to fossil fuels, such as natural gas, the fracking industry goes to great lengths to produce it as cheaply as possible. Much like methamphetamine laboratories, there is a cleaner (read: legal) way to get natural gas, but the process are expensive and time-consuming. Fracking, on the other hand, following this model, are cheap and practically unregulated. According to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project, some thirty-three fracking companies over the last four years have been pumping diesel fuel into their wells as part of the fracking process.
Now, according to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, fracking companies, if they want to use diesel fuel in their operations, are required to get a permit and notify residents. Water quality tests are required, before and after drilling. While all this is mandated, it seems that no one, specifically the regulatory agency, is checking up on fracking companies. The fracking companies are pumping all manner of chemicals into the ground with no regard to permits, which were never applied for or issued, and residents have no idea what’s in their drinking water. Diesel fuel, for example, contains a number of carcinogenic chemicals, most of which disperse easily in ground water, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. Next up: “Fracking-tainted combustible drinking water is totally normal!”
Photo credit: sally_monster