Advocacy Groups Urge President Obama to Protect the Drinking Water of 15 Million Americans

Less than a week after a natural gas well blowout in Pennsylvania prompted Chesapeake Energy, the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas, to temporarily suspend fracking in the state, advocates for clean, safe drinking water today urged President Barack Obama to halt fracking throughout the Delaware River Basin. Food & Water Watch joined with actor and founder Mark Ruffalo to call on President Obama to tell the Army Corps of Engineers to vote against proposed inadequate fracking regulations for the Delaware River Basin.

As pressure mounts to end U.S. reliance on fossil fuels, especially from foreign sources, many are touting shale gas as a “bridge fuel” between current energy resources and the clean, renewable ones of the future. Yet hydraulic fracturing has been shown to contaminate drinking water resources. To date, there have been more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination near drilling sites around the country.

Fracking can also endanger consumers who do not reside near drilling sites. Wastewater from the process often contains harmful levels of radioactive elements that cannot be effectively treated by the municipal treatment plants to which drillers ship their fracking waste. In Pennsylvania, this has resulted in toxic wastewater being discharged into rivers. Last week, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection told natural gas drillers to stop sending their fracking fluids to municipal wastewater treatment plants.

“Fracking endangers vital water resources and further strains our nation’s already aging water infrastructure systems,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter.  “The proposed regulations for the Delaware River Basin will not protect the water of the millions of area consumers who rely on it for their daily drinking and sanitation needs.”

Over 20,000 gas wells are planned for the Delaware River Basin, which supplies drinking water to 15.6 million people, including residents of New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.  The Delaware River Basin Commission is currently considering public comments on a set of draft regulations.  Last week New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman threatened to sue the federal agencies that sit on the commission if they failed to announce plans to conduct a cumulative impact analysis on the effects of drilling within the basin.

“I commend Attorney General Scheiderman for his leadership in protecting 15 million people’s drinking water,” said actor and Founder Mark Ruffalo. “Now it’s President Obama’s turn to recognize that Americans’ health is too precious to entrust to the big oil and gas corporations. Given everything that we now know about the dangers of fracking, we can’t rely on this industry to police itself any longer. We call on President Obama to take the Delaware River off the table for this dangerous form of extreme drilling.”

Late last year, outgoing Governor David Patterson imposed a temporary moratorium on fracking in New York.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.