Target: Professor Avner Vengosh, Ph.D., Duke University
Goal: Praise development of tools to distinguish fracking fluid from other water contamination
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has been getting a lot of bad press in the last few years, and with good reason. This method of extracting fossil fuels involves shooting a lot of water (mixed with a special cocktail of chemicals) at very high speeds deep underground, breaking open the rock to allow the gas and oil to chase the fracking fluid back to the earth’s surface. But because this extraction method pays off in the short term, Big Oil can line lawmakers’ pockets to prevent anyone from finding out exactly what’s in that chemical cocktail. So one team of scientists, representing Duke, Dartmouth, Stanford, Ohio State University, and the French Geological Survey, stopped wondering what it was and started asking what it left behind. They found they could identify certain “tracers” that helped them distinguish fracking fluid from other types of wastewater, based on its chemical makeup.
The team’s peer-reviewed study, which was published recently in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, notes that they discovered “novel diagnostic elemental and isotopic signatures…useful for characterizing hydraulic fracturing flowback fluids (HFFF) and distinguishing sources of HFFF in the environment.” Essentially they traced certain isotopes (or variants) of boron and lithium, which the researchers hypothesize are released from fracked shale formations as fossil fuels are being extracted. The scientists found that these isotopes and elements showed up in very specific concentrations in fracking fluid, probably as a result of the chemical cocktail becoming enriched with boron and lithium during the fracking process. One of the contributors, Dr. Avner Vengosh of Duke University, told ThinkProgress that the existence of this tool now allows scientists to counter industry claims that waste is a result of a history of conventional gas and oil extraction.
By signing this petition, you are thanking Dr. Vengosh and the team that discovered the fracking fluid footprint for helping to make sure the fracking industry is held accountable for the damage it causes.
Dear Dr. Vengosh,
I am writing in reference to your recent study identifying the footprint of hydraulic fracturing fluid. This research could not be more significant and more timely for many Americans in dire need of evidence that fracking is negatively affecting their health and livelihoods. By circumventing the need to know what fracking fluid contains, you and your team showed the fracking industry that even though they can protect their secret chemical cocktail by lining lawmakers’ pockets, they can’t prevent people from figuring out how to identify their waste.
Thank you and your team for working to make sure the fracking industry can be held accountable for the waste it produces and the damage that it causes to the environment. Thank you for finding the tools to defend American citizens against Big Oil. I urge you to continue your efforts to identify the effects of fracking and its waste on the surrounding ecosystem.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SustainUS via Flickr