In his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama praised natural gas as “the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change” and vowed to “cut red tape” to help business invest in it. But two studies released this winter bolster long-held fears that the extraction process, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, presents serious dangers for human health—and in particular, the health of the unborn.
The fracking industry’s latest environmental bugbear is earthquakes, which can be caused by injecting a briney cocktail of wastewater produced in the fracking process deep into disposal wells. And a paper making the rounds this week, by a researcher from Columbia University, clarifies just how drastically a single wastewater injection well can rattle its surroundings.
On the night that he was elected governor of Wisconsin in 2010, a beaming Scott Walker told the hundreds of supporters sandwiched into Waukesha’s little Country Springs Hotel ballroom that his state was “open for business.” It was shorthand for his promise to slash taxes and lay waste to state regulations, all to create a quarter of a million new jobs by the end of his fourth year in office.