While domestic natural gas may be a bridge away from coal and foreign oil to a cleaner energy future, loopholes created in 2005 at the behest of companies like Halliburton have led to a rise in the use of toxic chemicals with no environmental oversight during many natural gas drilling operations.
In a process called ‘fracking,’ gas companies pump a mix of unknown toxic chemicals deep into the earth to fracture and break apart shale formations that hold previously inaccessible natural gas deposits. The problem? Under exemptions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, these gas companies don’t have to disclose which chemicals they are injecting into the ground, and are exempted from laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act. The result? Around the country, a number of communities have been experiencing problems ranging from toxic chemicals entering water supplies, to drinking water that is literally flammable.
The November 14 edition of CBS’s investigative journalism program ’60 minutes’ did an expose on this major environmental story.