A scary, and disgusting, story on a new concern over fracking is making national headlines. From NBC News:
In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil- and gas-drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying. While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water or soil…
…In Louisiana, 17 cows died after an hour’s exposure to spilled fracking fluid, which is injected miles underground to crack open and release pockets of natural gas. The most likely cause of death: respiratory failure.
In New Mexico, hair testing of sick cattle that grazed near well pads found petroleum residues in 54 of 56 animals. In northern central Pennsylvania, 140 cattle were exposed to fracking wastewater when an impoundment was breached. Approximately 70 cows died, and the remainder produced only 11 calves, of which three survived.
In western Pennsylvania, an overflowing wastewater pit sent fracking chemicals into a pond and a pasture where pregnant cows grazed: Half their calves were born dead. Dairy operators in shale-gas areas of Colorado, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Texas have also reported the death of goats exposed to fracking chemicals. [Pols emphasis]
Goat’s milk is not a staple of the Pols’ diet, but that’s hitting a bit too close to home.
Fracking has become a growing political issue here in Colorado, most recently with residents in the City of Longmont voting to ban fracking (which conflicts with Colorado law on regulating the oil and gas industry). This year alone has seen multiple studies on potential fracking concerns at virtually every step of the process, and the oil and gas industry has immediately jumped to discredit every one of them.
The difference with this newest report, which originally appeared in The Nation, is that sick animals make for compelling images (the first picture on the NBC story shows a cow with its tail disintegrating). It’s a lot easier to discredit numbers and calculations, but it’s substantially harder to whitewash images such as these.
Anybody want to lay odds on the probability of fracking becoming a big topic in the 2013 legislative session?