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Gary  Jacobucci, Wells P&Z



Fracked in  Elko County

The open  communications forum on fracking hosted by the Bureau of Land Management at the  Red Lion March 14th proved to be a love fest between the BLM and  Nobel Energy.

Gary Johnson, the BLM Deputy State Director for Minerals, was there to tell us how  much money had beenbig-bucks-control brought in from fracking operations nationwide and to assure  us that the BLM was going to monitor surface disturbances. Jeff Schwarz was  there from Nobel Gas was there to tell us that we didn’t need to be concerned  about the contamination of our ground water and could go back to sleep. 

Schwarz  presented a list of chemicals they were going to be using in their hydraulic  fracturing operations along with a listing of how these chemicals were already  used in other household products; implying that because they are already in use,  that putting them into our drinking water was OK. Schwarz made reference to the  FracFocus website, saying that there was transparency in what chemicals they  were going to be using.

But when  asked if he could assure Elko County that BTEX compounds, and known carcinogens,  like known carcinogens were not going to be use in the drilling process,  Schwatz hesitantly responded yes, but quickly added that there are proprietary  chemicals that will be used. Proprietary, meaning secret.

This lack  of disclosure of what chemicals are actually going to be injected underground is  known as the Halliburton loophole and makes the listing of chemicals on the  FracFocus website both deceptive and meaningless. The Halliburton loophole  refers to the Halliburton legal team finding a loophole in the Safe Drinking  Water Act that exempts fracking operations from having to disclose what  chemicals they are injecting underground.

Elko  County Commissioner Chairman Jeff Williams attended the forum and asked his  usual puff ball question in wanting to make sure the sage grouse habitant was  not going to be effected. Always one to support anyone that will bring money  into the county, he also defended the use of chemicals in fracking, saying that  he puts chemicals into the ground himself.

According to reports, “Shale fracking  operations can produce as much as 8 million gallons of contaminated wastewater  per well. The chemicals that are used in a fracking fluid cocktail can include:  Benzene, a known carcinogen, Toluene, Ethyl benzene, Xylene, other  toxins.

Some of the chemicals get trapped  beneath the ground during the fracking process. These toxic chemicals pose a  dangerous health risk, as they can seep through crevices in the ground and reach  the nearby water supplies. Residents in the surrounding communities are at risk  of ingesting the dangerous chemicals in their drinking water. Tainted water can  result in serious health problems, including cancer, respiratory disease,  reproduction problems, skin problems and more.”

Schwartz emphasized that they were only  using a 2% chemical additive to the water, but even if they are able to limit  the water usage to the 800,000 gallons per well that they estimate will be used  during testing, this still equates to 16,ooo gallons of chemicals injected per  well.

The  Halliburton legal team also found a loophole in the Clean Air Act that exempts  fracking from having to control what chemicals are being released into the  atmosphere. Although there were two bills introduced in Congress to eliminate  these loopholes, they are going nowhere.  

If  regulators know what chemicals to look for when they test drinking water, they  can hold oil and gas companies accountable for their pollution. That’s why it’s  crucial that oil and gas companies come out of the shadows and tell us what  chemicals they’re shooting into the ground. The problem is there is no effective  regulation.

Although  the Environmental Protection Agency has raised concerns that the chemicals used  in fracking could contaminate drinking water, they say their hands are tied and  blame the lack of information about the contents of hydraulic fracturing fluid  on the 2005 Energy Policy Act because it exempts hydraulic fracturing from  federal water laws.

With the  fracking issue looming in our near future, I’ve considered applying for the  single citizen position open on the Elko County Resource Advisory Board, but my  experience as the only citizen member attending the County Local Emergency  Planning Committee for two years makes me wonder if it is worth the time and  effort.

In both  LEPC meetings, and to the County Commissioners, I made the case to revise the  nonsensical charter provided by the DHS that disallowed any discussion of food,  power or water preparation for an emergency situation. The charter also placed  authority over, and training of, our first responders in the hands of the DHS.  One thing became clear; if you’re working for a government agency, your opinion  is determined by the agency that employs you and no thinking outside that box is  welcome. 

Do I think  that I can change the tide as a citizen member amongst representative of various  agencies at the Elko County Regional Advisory Board? Not a chance in hell. We  live under the illusion of the power and authority of those that have money. The  marriage between the agencies and the money that NGO’s and multi-national  corporations bring to the table is defining government in our country; public  opinion be damned. 

People  living in area affected by fracking should have a complete testing of their  water wells because you can be sure Nobel will dodge any responsibility if and  when contamination occurs. A legitimate  website describing the effects of fracking on families and communities is