New Report: Fracking Could Cause a New Global Water Crisis
Risky Technology to Extract Shale Gas Should Be Banned, Says Consumer Group
Washington, D.C.—New technology enabling the extraction of large quantities of oil and natural gas from shale and other rock formations could drive the world’s next great global water crisis unless it is banned, according to a new report released today by national consumer group Food & Water Watch. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, combined with horizontal drilling, is poised to become a global environmental and public health threat as the oil and gas industry seeks more access to oil and gas trapped in rock formations far beneath the ground.
“Fracking is a dangerous American export that should be viewed critically by countries just starting to engage in the practice,” says Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “Modern drilling and fracking have caused widespread environmental and public health problems, as well as posed serious, long-term risks to vital water resources.”
According to the report, Fracking: The New Global Water Crisis, countries around the world are grappling with how to address the push to drill and frack. In Europe, while France and Bulgaria have banned fracking in the face of strong public opposition, Poland has welcomed the industry. In China and Argentina, shale gas extraction is being developed with government support. In South Africa, pending an environmental review, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell may be granted permission to extract shale gas.
The oil and gas industry touts the economic benefits of fracking, but the report counters that any economic benefit to local communities is short lived and can be outweighed by the risks and costs of the industry. Employment, construction, housing demand and royalty payments may increase significantly during an initial boom, but these effects diminish quickly as well productivities decline and operations move elsewhere, leaving behind a costly legacy of environmental pollution and scarred landscapes.
“While the oil and gas industry is profiting off of this technology, it has been a disaster for Americans exposed to its pollution. They have dealt with everything from mysterious ailments likely caused by hazardous air pollution to well water contamination that has left rural communities unable to use their water for washing, brushing their teeth or cooking—much less drinking,” said Hauter. “Does the rest of the world want to live this nightmare?”
The report also notes that while natural gas has been touted as a low-carbon fuel, recent scientific studies have shown that the growing dependence on shale gas is likely to accelerate global climate change in the coming decades.
“Shale gas drilling’s benefits can be summed up quickly: good for the oil and gas industry, and bad for rural communities,” says Hauter. “Legislators around the world need to learn what’s happened to these communities in the U.S. as a cautionary tale and implement fracking bans in their countries before it’s too late.”
Fracking: The New Global Water Crisis is available here.
Contact: Kate Fried, Food and Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.