Fracking Idaho

If you haven't seen Gasland yet, queue it up. This documentary is not a Frontline type, weighing-all-sides-of-the-issue, expose. As a film, it works as an excellent piece of first person journalism, exposing the horrors Josh Fox finds in his search for the consequences of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in America, which injects chemicals underground to induce gas production. For years industry held close to the vest the recipe for the chemical composition used in fracking as a "trade secret". But since people started testing their water, the secret is slowly coming out.

The movie also provides context for this recent controversial decision by Idaho officials when they agreed to "trust" gas industry executives instead of imposing a requirement that industry use no carcinogens when fracking Idaho. The Idaho Conservation League now has a fracking page which chronicles its efforts in safeguarding Idaho drinking water and gives the following account.

[T]his type of chemical drilling is that it is exempt from many federal laws that protect public health and the environment and, for many years, the liquid contents used have been treated as trade secrets by the industry. Idaho has never had commercially viable natural gas development. So, not surprisingly, Idaho lacks regulations for this industry. Idaho's Oil and Gas Commission is working to develop these rules as drilling proceeds.

In April, the Oil and Gas Commission passed a draft temporary rule to allow chemical drilling operations to proceed in Idaho. ICL proposed amendments to this temporary rule that included banning the use of carcinogens in the fracking fluid. After all, no one wants Idaho's groundwater contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals, like benzene and diesel fuel.

An official from the Idaho Department of Lands told the Commission that there is no need to prohibit the use of cancer-causing chemicals since it is too hard to figure out which chemicals cause cancer. In his words: "I think even Twinkies could be carcinogenic, if you eat enough of them."

OK, then, can we prohibit benzine and diesel injected into our drinking water? Water is the lifeblood of Idaho and these pinheads will risk it in "trust" for industry executives who have earned no such trust.