WHAT FRACKING IS (AND WHAT IT IS NOT)
Download this fact sheet here.
Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), is the method of drilling into the shale rock, often 2,000 or 10,000 feet below us, to extract natural gas and oil. These deep wells pass through the aquifers which give our communities life-sustaining water. These wells curve horizontally, deep into the Earth, and then millions of gallons of water laced with undisclosed “fracking chemicals” are pressurized and injected – breaking apart, or fracturing all of this rock. Methane, and dangerous materials are released in this process.
Over the past decade this practice has exploded in popularity across the United States, Canada, First Nations and Native Nations. While this type of drilling has been around for decades, the techniques and chemicals used to reach deeper methane reserves are more intensive and riskier than conventional drilling.
Often, fracking operations, and representatives of the companies that profit from this, will argue that “fracking” does not contaminate our waters, and that “fracking” doesn’t cause as much environmental harm as opponents say. The work “fracking” refers only to the process of drilling, it doesn’t address the toxic wastewater treatment and disposal, and it doesn’t address wastewater spills and explosions.
HOW IT PUTS OUR COMMUNITIES AT RISK
These wells pass through our aquifers, and an explosion, malfunction during drilling, or leaking of the casing (all of which have happened at different fracking wells), will pollute the aquifers that sustain the life of our communities in a way that can’t be fixed. And since the companies that frack our land aren’t required to disclose the chemical “cocktails” they inject these wells with, we have no way of knowing the impact until our people begin to get sick. The 2011 U.S. House of Representatives investigative report states that out of 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products, more than 650 contain chemicals that are known carcinogens. Our tribal governments need to stand up and protect our communities from this harm. The U.S. Drinking Water Act has not been applied to fracking. And outside of the harms that fall under the definition of the word “fracking”, we need to deal with the toxic “waste”waters produced from this drilling.
Each well uses 1-8 million gallons of fresh water. This water is polluted with hazardous fracking chemicals, oil and hydrocarbons, radioactive radon, and biocides, and there is no process or technique for treating this water – our water treatment facilities aren’t equipped with specialized equipment, which is very costly, even if there was a certified process for “cleaning this wastewater. With our aquifers running dry, as we face down the beginnings of a global water crisis, can we take seriously any plan that not only uses our waters, but puts entire aquifers at risk for contamination? The air that sustains our lives is also at risk, as methane leaks from the wells, and emissions from the natural gas-powered drilling equipment multiplies that harm.
HOW IS IT IMPACTING NATIVE COMMUNITIES?
While Fracking has been banned in the entire countries of France, Bulgaria, and South Africa, and the state of Vermont, and, recently, New Foundland, while the treatment of fracking waste water has been banned in New Jersey, many Native and First Nations communities have remained vulnerable to fracking and frack wastewater treatment. The number of wells in the Baken Oil Field is rapidly increasing. Estimates say that the current 8,000 wells could increase to between 40,000 and 50,000 by the time all the oil and gas is extracted (twenty years from now).
Much of the gas that’s extracted goes to fueling the Tar Sands oils extraction in Alberta. We cannot support the destruction of the land and culture of our relations. And the Earth cannot afford the massive carbon emissions produced by fracking. We have been tempted by job creation, but we cannot put money before the health of our communities – we cannot accept cancer, asthma, and earthquakes as the cost for “job creation”. Abuse of the land and abuse of the people is one and the same. We cannot fracture our future.
The Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa passed a resolution banning fracking, along with the Haudenosaunee. For copies of the resolutions, and other resources on how to get your tribal council to ban fracking please visit the resources section on this website.