by Crazy Horse
Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 03:44:22 AM EST
Living Green: Livestock Falling Ill in Fracking Regions...
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.
Exposed livestock "are making their way into the food system, and it's very worrisome to us," Bamberger says. "They live in areas that have tested positive for air, water, and soil contamination. Some of these chemicals could appear in milk and meat products made from these animals."
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.
Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene, and xylene--and well testing revealed high levels of sulfates, chromium, chloride, and strontium.
Please remember the authors characterize this as a preliminary study (although peer-reviewed), but notice how the industry responds...
Fracking proponents criticize Bamberger and Oswald's paper as a political, not a scientific, document. "They used anonymous sources, so no one can verify what they said," says Steve Everley, of the industry lobby group Energy In Depth. The authors didn't provide a scientific assessment of impacts--testing what specific chemicals might do to cows that ingest them, for example--so treating their findings as scientific, he continues, "is laughable at best, and dangerous for public debate at worst."
Added to the body of literature on fracking side effects, the authors point out, "Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene, and xylene--and well testing revealed high levels of sulfates, chromium, chloride, and strontium."
If Eye was writing propaganda for the foockin' frackers, such early results would indeed be called "laughable."
The preliminary study had other hurdles to overcome as well.
Documenting the scope of the problem is difficult: Scientists lack funding to study the matter, and rural vets remain silent for fear of retaliation. Farmers who receive royalty checks from energy companies are reluctant to complain, and those who have settled with gas companies following a spill or other accident are forbidden to disclose information to investigators. Some food producers would rather not know what's going on, say ranchers and veterinarians.
Let's put this in perspective.
Energy companies are exempt from key provisions of environmental laws, which makes it difficult for scientists and citizens to learn precisely what is in drilling and fracking fluids or airborne emissions. And without information on the interactions between these chemicals and pre-existing environmental chemicals, veterinarians can't hope to pinpoint an animal's cause of death.
Civilization is inflicting death by a thousand paper cuts to its own life support system. Holding one small slice up to the microscope won't help, with the efficiency of modern propaganda and distraction. (But Eye do it anyway.)
After all, it's not as if we had sustainable alternatives.