Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center. Courtesy photo
WPX Energy was among the top fracking violators examined in a new report, breaking health and environmental rules in nearly half the wells it drilled in Pennsylvania. WPX Energy is one of the top gas producers in New Mexico.
The Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center analysis, Fracking Failures: Oil and Gas Industry Environmental Violations in Pennsylvania and What They Mean for the U.S., reveals that Fortune 500 companies, smaller firms, and even businesses who tout their environmental records are all prone to breaking rules intended to protect air, water, and human health — averaging more than a violation each day.
The study tracks lapses such as allowing toxic chemicals to leach into the air and water, endangering drinking water through improper well construction, and dumping industrial waste into waterways.
“We’re not talking about misfiled papers,” said Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center. “We’re talking about serious risks for workers, drinking water and public health.”
According to the report, from the very beginning of clearing a site for drilling, through extraction, transport and delivery of finished products, fracking threatens the environment. The report examined violations of the regulations intended to mitigate some threats during both the drilling and the operation of a well.
Four firms — EQT, Chevron Appalachia, Consol and Shell, who told the public they would adhere to higher standards when they formed the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, were also among the worst offenders. Together they racked up at least 100 infractions even after they pledged to do better in 2013. Of these, Chevron operates in New Mexico as well.
Tweeti Blancett, a rancher in northwestern New Mexico, has seen the direct impacts of fracking to her family ranch and the surrounding area. “Since the San Juan basin is a ‘sacrifice area’ [for our country] no one cares,” Blancett said. “The Four Corners area has the largest methane cloud in North America,” as well as a number of oil and gas accidents and pollution.”