BOSTON — Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced that the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation that places a ten-year moratorium on fracking and the disposal of fracking wastewater in the Commonwealth. The bill passed the Senate with unanimous support.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method of drilling that involves injecting millions of gallons of water, often laced with toxic chemicals, deep underground to fracture rock formations and release oil and gas. There is a growing number of documented cases of individuals suffering acute and chronic health effects while living near fracking operations — including nausea, rashes, dizziness, headaches and nose bleeds.
“As a former environmental police officer, and as a longtime proponent of legislative initiatives to protect and promote our environment, I was pleased to cast a vote in support of this bill,” said Sen. Moore. “There is clear evidence to suggest that environmental and health risks exist in communities where fracking is taking place. This bill is yet another step forward in securing Massachusetts’ position as a national leader in promoting green energy.”
Part of Massachusetts is in a geological formation known as the Hartford Basin. The piece of the basin in Massachusetts is 34 miles long and varies in width from three to 15 miles. It is possible that the Hartford Basin holds deposits of shale gas. The Massachusetts Geological Survey has said that there is no direct evidence that oil or gas cannot be produced here. Outcrop samples have been examined, which may illuminate the petroleum potential of the black shales within the basins of our area.
“Across the country, fracking is polluting drinking water and making families sick,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts. “We applaud Senate leaders for taking steps to ensure this dirty drilling never comes to Massachusetts.”
A 2011 article in the journal, Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, examined the potential health impacts of oil and gas drilling in relation to the chemicals used during drilling, fracking, processing and the delivery of natural gas. The paper compiled a list of 632 chemicals (an incomplete list due to trade secrecy exemptions) identified from drilling operations throughout the U.S. Their research found that:
• 75% of the chemicals could affect the skin, eyes, other sensory organs and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems
• 40-50% could affect the nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems, and the kidneys
• 37% could affect the endocrine system
• 25% could cause cancer and mutations
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.