Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking and Associated Gas and Oil Infrastructure by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York, April 28, 2022
PSR is proud to co-release the eighth edition of the fracking “Compendium,” a collection of some 2,000 abstracts of and links to medical, scientific and investigative reports about the consequences of oil and gas drilling, fracking, and infrastructure.
This unique resource presents evidence that fracking-related activities harm public health, the environment, and the climate; links provide easy access to the source material. The 2022 edition includes reports on liquefied natural gas (LNG), which the U.S. proposes to export in massive quantities to Western Europe, thus prolonging dependence on this potent climate-damaging fossil fuel.
PSR co-produces the Compendium with Concerned Health Professionals of New York.
From Page 9:
Summary of Findings
As of 2022, hydraulic fracturing techniques have been used on an estimated one million wells across the United States to shatter rock layers and extract the oil or gas trapped inside. With hydraulically fractured shale wells now producing at least 79 percent of U.S. natural gas and 65 percent of U.S. crude oil, fracking, no longer “unconventional,” has become the standard method for oil and gas extraction. As fracking operations in the United States and abroad have increased in frequency, size, and intensity, a significant body of evidence has emerged to demonstrate that these activities are harmful in ways that cannot be mitigated through regulation. Threats include detrimental impacts on public health, climate stability, water and air quality, farming, property values, economic vitality, and quality of life.
Emerging science also shows that fracking is an environmental injustice, with injuries not borne equally by all. Throughout the United States, pregnant women, children, Indigenous people, communities of color, and low-income communities are disproportionately harmed by fracking.
A growing and substantial body of research reveals fundamental problems with the entire life cycle of operations associated with fracking and its infrastructure.
Independent, peer-reviewed analyses indicate that fracking is an unpredictable process with innate engineering problems that include uncontrolled fracturing, induced earthquakes, and well casing failures that worsen with age. Intractable problems also include radiation releases; abandoned wells that serve as pathways for contamination; and venting, flaring, and blowdowns that result in methane releases.
As documented in more than 100 studies, toxic air pollution accompanies fracking.
More than 200 airborne chemical contaminants have been detected near drilling and fracking operations, and air monitoring has confirmed strikingly high levels of toxic air pollutants in communities near these sites.
Toxic frac pollution in NEBC. Much of it is deadly sour (H2S) there.
Toxic frac pollution in Alberta is rampant, and much of it is sour also. Frac’ing is known to sour formations world-wide.
Of these, 61 are classified as hazardous air pollutants with known health risks, including the potent carcinogens benzene and formaldehyde. Additional fracking-related air pollutants include diesel exhaust, fine particles, hydrogen sulfide gas, nitrogen oxides, and other chemical precursors of ground-level ozone (smog), which can damage respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. In many cases, concentrations of fracking-related air pollutants in communities where people live and work exceed federal safety standards, with ground-level ozone reaching levels typical of urban centers in otherwise rural communities. Research shows that air emissions from fracking and flaring can drift and pollute the air hundreds of miles downwind.
Each day in the United States, more than two billion gallons of pressurized fracking fluids are pumped underground for the purpose of extracting oil and gas or, after the fracking is finished, to inject the extracted wastewater into any of more than 187,000 disposal wells across the country. As documented by more than 180 studies, these fracking-related activities have depleted or contaminated water resources, including drinking water sources. Studies from across the United States provide irrefutable evidence that groundwater contamination has occurred as a result of fracking activities and is more likely to occur close to well pads. Spills and intentional discharges into surface water have profoundly altered the chemistry and ecology of streams throughout entire watersheds, increasing downstream levels of radioactive elements, heavy metals, endocrine disruptors, toxic disinfection byproducts, and acidity, and decreasing aquatic biodiversity. Demand for water to use in U.S. fracking operations has more than doubled since 2016. The water used for fracking that remains in the shale formation is permanently lost to the hydrological cycle. Studies also show that fracking can deplete streams and aquifers in ways that create water scarcity in drought-prone regions. Along with fracking itself, the injection of fracking waste is a proven cause of earthquakes. The disposal of fracking wastewater remains a problem with no solution.
With more than 17.6 million U.S. residents living within one mile of at least one active oil and as well, the result is a public health and climate crisis. As documented in more than 100 studies, public health harms now linked with drilling, fracking, and associated infrastructure are well-established. They include cancers, asthma, respiratory diseases, skin rashes, heart problems, and mental health problems. Multiple corroborating studies of pregnant women residing near fracking operations across the nation show impairments to infant health, including birth defects, preterm birth, and low birth weight. Emerging evidence shows harm to maternal health—including elevated risks for eclampsia during pregnancy—and shortened lifespans among older residents living in proximity to oil and gas wells.
Fracking is accelerating the climate crisis. North American fracking operations for both oil and gas are driving the current surge in global levels of methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period and which has contributed 40 percent of all global warming to date. Methane escapes into the atmosphere from all parts of the extraction, processing, and distribution system, at significant rates that, as demonstrated through multiple methodologies, sometimes exceed earlier estimates by a factor of two to six. Recent scientific findings indicate that slashing methane emissions is far more critical in halting global warming than previously understood. Liquefying natural gas via super-chilling to allow its overseas transport as LNG requires immense energy and evaporative cooling technology, both of which add further to the prodigious greenhouse gas emissions of natural gas obtained via fracking.
Carbon capture and storage, now being promoted as a tool to address climate change, is an unproven set of technologies that does not account for methane emissions, cannot obviate the climate damage created by fracking, and, as currently practiced, mostly serves as a tool of enhanced oil recovery that allows depleted wells to produce more oil.
In sum, the vast body of scientific studies now published on hydraulic fracturing in the peer- reviewed scientific literature confirms that the climate and public health risks from fracking are real and the range of environmental harms wide.
Our examination uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health directly or without imperiling climate stability upon which human health depends.
The rapidly expanding body of evidence compiled here is massive, troubling, and cries out for decisive action. Across a wide range of parameters, the data continue to reveal a plethora of recurring problems that cannot be sufficiently averted through regulatory frameworks.
The risks and harms of fracking are inherent in its operation. The only method of mitigating its grave threats to public health and the climate is a complete and comprehensive ban on fracking.
Indeed, a fracking phase-out is a requirement of any meaningful plan to prevent catastrophic climate change.
Refer also to:
Historic water well tests on my water well and others later contaminated by frac’ing in Alberta state “Gas Present: No” The snap below is taken directly from pre-frac’ing tests on my well:
2001-2004: Encana/Ovintiv secretly illegally fracs directly into Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers, contaminating them, violating The Water Act and other legislation, with nothing but lies, secrets, deregulation and law violations by the regulators (including violating Charter rights of frac-harmed citizens that tried to warn others; EUB lawyer Rick McKee bullied me, told me – a frac harmed landowner – I would only be granted energy regulation to enforce Encana’s law violations if I shut up, stopped talking to media, and promised to never again warn anyone about frac harms and regulators enabling and covering-up corporate crimes, not even my neighbours, family or friends). Rule of Law when it suits ’em.
Prior to frac’ing our drinking water aquifers, Encana’s own data showed our aquifers were gas free (no wonder the courts and my lawyers wouldn’t let me get anywhere in the legal system):
2003 tests by Encana on my well also did not report gas present:
Encana later lied on its website, and to media, saying I refused to cooperate and did not allow testing of my water.
2003: 2002 Groundwater Quality Workshop report released by Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Linking Water Science to Policy Workshop Series. Report No.2, 52 pages. Crowe, A.S., K.A. Schaefer, A. Kohut, S.G. Shikaze, C.J. Ptacek. 2003
Given that little is known about the long-term integrity of concrete seals and steel casings in 600,000 abandoned hydrocarbon wells in Canada, the study stated that the oil and gas industry’s future impact on groundwater could be immense. The report concluded that unconventional natural gas drilling…poses a real threat to groundwater quality and quantity, and that the nation needs “baseline hydrogeological investigations…to be able to recognize and track groundwater contaminants.” Such baseline investigations are still not being done appropriately in Canada; there are a few fake ones in Alberta to make it appear as though there are. No data, no evidence, no proof for court (not that evidence helps any of the frac-harmed given Canada’s inaccessible and dirty legal/judicial industry).
2005 11 24: Alberta’s regulator judges me a criminal (in writing and copies the police), without due process, no hearing, no trial, zero evidence, and “banishes” me from energy regulation, while allowing Encana/Ovintiv to continue breaking laws in place at the time to protect communities and groundwater.
2005: Ranchers Ronalie and Shawn Campbell by Ponoka, and Dale and Brenda Zimmerman by Wetaskiwin, both in Alberta, had their water contaminated after nearby frac’ing.
Dale Zimmerman hauling safe alternate water for his farm
Campbell’s with methane, ethane, propane, butane, and pentane with isotopic fingerprints matching Encana’s gas; Zimmerman’s with methane (and ethane matching Quicksilver’s, MGV at the time – after frac’ers contaminate communities they often change company names to hide their crimes from investors. Encana is now Ovintiv and ran away to the USA). The companies where never held accountable, and the ranchers were never provided safe alternate water.
Nga de la Cruz, … Alberta Environment, acknowledges the American problems. “But so far we really haven’t documented the migration of methane…(in Alberta),” she added. Bob Curran, a spokesman for the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board [now AER] said it’s possible for methane to migrate into a water well, but it’s extremely rare. Both de la Cruz and Curran said methane can also be created by bacteria in a poorly maintained well. Ernst said she has her well treated annually with chlorine.
2006 02 06: Encana promises, in writing, to provide alternate safe water to those harmed by frac’ing. This was just another Big Lie:
2006 02 28: In the Legislature, Alberta gov’t promised to provide all frac harmed families with safe alternate water “now and into the future.” Then Premier Ralph Klein promised “whatever needed to be done would be done.” Some families were delivered safe water for a short time. Encana, the regulators and Dr. Alexander Blythe engaged in fraud investigating and reviewing some of the contamination cases, and slammed the door shut on us all.
2006 05: Bruce Jack and two gas-in-water testers for industry were seriously injured when Jack’s methane and ethane contaminated water well exploded (even though the gases had been professionally vented as recommended by Alberta Environment).
A few days prior, Jack had objected to the AER allowing more frac wells around his contaminated water well. AER told Jack that contaminated well water is no grounds for objection.
Peter Watson, then Deputy Minister Environment for Alberta (later promoted by Steve Harper to chair CER, Canada’s national energy regulator) rushed to Jack’s bedside to con him into not speaking to media in exchange for safe water deliveries.
2006: Alberta’s energy regulator, industry and gov’t fund and incorporate Synergy Alberta with which to propagandize frac’d families and communities, and media into reporting the harmed are “not opposed” no matter how heinous the harms suffered, and to “educate” the public and other jurisdictions that frac’ing improves the environment and causes no pollution or harms (because of “best in the world” regulations and “world class” regulators). Synergy is endorsed and used by envNGOs (they get major funding from it), notably Pembina Institute and Sierra Club, to propagandize how wonderful frac’ing is.
2010: Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective by Theo Colborn et al
For many years, drillers have insisted that they do not use toxic chemicals to drill for gas, only guar gum, mud, and sand. While much attention is being given to chemicals used during fracking, our findings indicate that drilling chemicals can be equally, if not more dangerous.
2010: Alberta Environment secretly removes all historic water well test results on resident wells that stated “Gas Present: No” (see above) later contaminated by frac’ing from its public database, and replaced them with altered records with “Gas Present” section blank.
2011: Ernst vs Encana/Ovintiv lawsuit goes public and Ernst is invited to present at the United Nations in New York City
2011 10 06: Deregulation by the Alberta regulator continues
2012 01 23: FRACK EU: UNCONVENTIONAL INTRIGUE IN POLAND by Will Koop
Regulations and Mitigations will never make fracking safe! (Quote from Executive Summary)
An insurance broker the property owner consulted could not obtain insurance on the house and property because of the methane. Unable to bear the costs of bringing the methane control system up to standard, the owners consulted a broker about selling the property, only to find that their real estate broker would not list the house for sale. In refusing the listing, the broker said that no one would be interested in buying the property because they would not be able to either insure or mortgage it because of the methane levels….The methane problem, it ruled, is more than a mere nuisance, posing a real hazard.
2012 05 04: While Encana CEO Gwyn Morgan’s buddy Steve Harper was Prime Minister: Health Canada Report, admitting significant health hazards and risks to groundwater and air from hydraulic fracturing, kept from the public The report remains withheld by Health Canada; I uploaded it to my website to make it public.
A proportion (25% to 100%) of the water used in hydraulic fracturing is not recovered, and consequently this water is lost permanently to re-use, which differs from some other water uses in which water can be recovered and processed for re-use.
2012 Rosebud cropland, how Encana gets rid of the company’s waste:
2013 06 16: Brief review of threats to Canada’s groundwater from the oil and gas industry’s methane migration and hydraulic fracturing A public interest project by Ernst Environmental Services
2013 09: Ann Craft family records AER’s outside counsel in my case, Glenn Solomon, admitting how companies use gag orders to get away with contaminating drinking water so that they can do it again down the street (it was in late 2014 that the clips were made public):
I refused to bow down to AER’s lawyer, Rick Mckee; I refused to shut up in exchange for regulation (which AER would never have provided), so I remain without safe water. Daunheimers never rec’d safe water either.
2014 02 24: “Why the Big Fracking Lies” Poster by Will Koop, BC Tap Water Alliance
2014 02 28: Guest Speaker: Diana Daunheimer on Fracking issues affecting well water at Alberta Surface Rights Federation Meeting March 13, 2014 in Camrose A few of Ms. Daunheimer’s slides below. Visit link to see complete slide set.
There are many other cases of health and environmental harm, and air, land and water contamination by the frac industry in Alberta (and other provinces). It’s common.
Read Andrew Nikiforuk’s Slick Water for more details.
2014 04 30: Steve Harper’s Frac Report by the Council of Canadian Academies led by frac-enabler and promoter Dr. John Cherry (the report ignored/left out his damning chapter published by the CCME in 2003) is made public after much pompous propaganda:
The council was sent my 2013 brief, ignored it, and left out not only the damning frac harm evidence and data already then publicly available, but also the damning CCME report released more than a decade earlier (easily publicly accessible on CCME’s website at that time).
After I went public with the CCME report being ignored by Dr. Cherry and his frac panel, the CCME report vanished from the CCME’s website. I uploaded it to mine, to keep it public.
2014 12 12: Compendium 2: State of Science on Harms by Fracking to Public Health and Water: Health Professionals, Scientists Release Analysis of 400 Peer-Reviewed Studies on Fracking along with Major Scientific Update
Anthony Ingraffea, PhD, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering, Cornell University, said, “In 2008, when New York State first declared a moratorium on fracking, only six peer-reviewed papers on the health and environmental impacts had been published. Now there are more than 400, and the vast majority show a clear and present danger.
What’s more, many problems are unfixable by regulations of any kind. It was a wise governor who said ‘wait’ in 2008. And it is wise to continue to wait.”
2014 12 16: Quebec’s Premier Declares Province-wide Shale Gas Ban after Environmental Review Board (BAPE) says Fracking Not Worth The Risk, “Too many negative consequences to the environment and society…risks to air and water quality…noise and light pollution”
2015 09: Andrew Nikiforuk’s Slick Water is published
2016: US EPA Releases Final Frac Report: Rosebud Alberta drinking water aquifers frac’d, water wells contaminated with gas. EPA’s late edits to 2015 draft frac report downplayed the risks, contradicted the evidence, called “bizarre” & “irresponsible.” Like Alberta regulator official, Steve Wallace, secretly editing “independent” drinking water contamination reports to protect illegal aquifer frac’er Encana?
2016 11 29: Compendium 4.0 Released, More than 900 Studies Showing Overwhelming Harms Caused by Unconventional Oil & Gas Development. Doctors Call for Halt to FrackingFrom the last page of Compendium 4.0:
All together, findings to date from scientific, medical, and journalistic investigations combine to demonstrate that fracking poses significant threats to air, water, health, public safety, climate stability, seismic stability, community cohesion, and long-term economic vitality. Emerging data from a rapidly expanding body of evidence continue to reveal a plethora of recurring problems and harms that cannot be averted or cannot be sufficiently averted through regulatory frameworks. There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly or without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends. In the words of investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk:
Industry swore that its cracking rock technology was safe and proven, but science now tells a different story. Brute force combined with ignorance … has authored thousands of earthquakes … [and] called forth clouds of migrating methane…. The science is complicated but clear: cracking rock with fluids is a chaotic activity and no computer model can predict where those fractures will go. The regulatory record shows that they often go out of zone; extend into water; and rattle existing oil and gas wells, and these rattled wells are leaking more methane.923
And in the words of a new commentary about fracking in the American Journal of Public
Mounting empirical evidence shows harm to the environment and to human health … and we have no idea what the long-term effects might be…. Ignoring the body of evidence, to us, is not a viable option anymore.924
2018 03 13: Compendium 5: ‘The Harms of Fracking’: New Report Details Increased Risks of Asthma, Birth Defects and Cancer. Dr. Sandra Steingraber: “Fracking is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.” Dr. Pouné Saberi: “There is a code of silence….” Workers rarely report injuries or hazards, for fear of losing their jobs
2020: A decade of science on frac harms – Compendium 7 released: “The data continue to reveal a plethora of recurring problems that cannot be sufficiently averted through regulatory frameworks” while regulators in Canada continue to DEregulate to enable the endless **known** harms. Canadian frac-harmed Vicky Simlik: “Because there is no such thing as a kind & gentle frac’ it needs to be banned period.”
2020 12: The Hamlet of Rosebud is pipelined safe alternate water from Calgary, a massive cost born by Canadian taxpayers, not the company that illegally frac’d and contaminated the community’s drinking water supply or those in positions of power at AER, Alberta Environment, Alberta Innovates, the Alberta gov’t that engaged in fraud to cover it up.
2021 08 27: Frac’ing Ontario? Wheatley (thermogenic corrosive) sour gas explosion injures 20, destroys two buildings, more, many families displaced. Still leaking, area remains at risk of more explosions like Hutchinson Kansas where two were killed in their home from industry’s leaking gas migrating 7 miles. Chatham-Kent top administrator, Don Shropshire: “Our area has hundreds, if not thousands of abandoned gas wells. They stretch from Niagara Peninsula to Windsor.” Also exploded from industry’s gas 85 years ago. The community must be relocated. But, where?
2022: Frac Science Compendium 8 to be released soon. Sandra Steingraber & Carmi Orenstein: “The more we learn about fracking…the worse it looks. Fracking is a villain, not a hero….” (R. Kennedy Jr., Sierra Club, other NGOs pimped frac’ing for polluters)
2022 04 27: The frac harms never stop. Fracking promises prosperity — but what if it’s happening in your front yard? Some residents in northern B.C. say they’re paying the price for huge LNG project and its touted benefits
2022 05 01: I remain hauling alternate safe water. Encana was never held accountable for the company’s many law violations in my community; my ex lawyers Murray Klippenstein and Cory Wanless were never held accountable for theirs. Rule of Law when it suits them.
If you tell a lie that’s big enough, people won’t believe that you could deceive them on that scale.
@TimothyDSnyder on Hitler’s “Big Lie” strategy copied by past Supreme Court of Canada justice Rosalie Abella (and other judges), Putin, Trump, Steve Harper, Pierre Poilievre, Jason Kenney, John Horgan, Scott Moe, Doug Ford, the racist anti-public health trucker convoyer leaders, frac’ers, CAPP & Encana/Ovintiv et al, AER, Alberta Environment, Alberta Innovates, OGC, Peter Watson (Chair CER), Bev Yee, LSO, my ex lawyers etc.