WASHINGTON (May 16, 2013) – New draft rules for fracking on public lands, released by the federal Bureau of Land Management today, would leave drinking water supplies for millions of Americans, as well as millions of acres of wild lands, at risk, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The rules need to be strengthened in a number of ways in order to protect public health and the environment.
The stakes are high: At risk are places that supply drinking water for millions of Americans, including private wells (when the federal government owns mineral rights below private property), as well large municipal drinking water supplies, including all of Washington, D.C., Denver, and parts of California’s Monterey, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Oil and gas companies have already leased an area of public land larger than the entire state of Florida.
A statement follows from NRDC President Frances Beinecke:
“These rules protect industry, not people. They are riddled with gaping holes that endanger clean, safe drinking water supplies for millions of Americans nationwide. They also put the fate of millions of acres of America’s last remaining wild places in jeopardy. With fracking already moving full steam ahead on federal lands, we need protective ground rules for communities and the environment. Instead, this draft is a blueprint for business-as-usual industrialization of our landscapes.
“The administration has a responsibility to be a leader in guarding against the risks of fracking. They must shift the direction away from industry wish lists and toward drinking water protection. That means addressing the major shortfalls in this draft before issuing a final rule, and preventing expanded fracking from moving forward unless and until sufficient safeguards are in place.”