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article imageOp-Ed: Billions of gallons of oil-waste being dumped in Gulf of Mexico

By Karen Graham     Jul 11, 2016 in Environment
While the spotlight has been on offshore oil drilling, fracking has been quietly going on behind our backs in the Gulf of Mexico. Over 1,200 permits were issued between 2010 and 2014, with billions of gallons of oil-waste water being dumped in the Gulf.
The Center for Biological Diversity obtained the documents detailing the fracking permits handed out to oil companies following an agreement that settled a lawsuit challenging the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s failure to disclose the documents.
Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney says, “The Obama administration is essentially letting oil companies frack at will in Gulf ecosystems and dump billions of gallons of oil waste into coastal waters." She points out that every single frack in Gulf waters increases the risk to wildlife and coastal communities.
Monsell adds, "Federal officials have been just rubber-stamping this toxic practice in the Gulf of Mexico for years.” To make matters worse, she adds that our government has been allowing this fracking to go on without any "site-specific" analysis.
Map showing fracking sites in Gulf of mexico (2010 to 2014).
Map showing fracking sites in Gulf of mexico (2010 to 2014).
Center for Biological Diversity
This means that there have been no environmental impact studies done on the impact to endangered species, or to the marine or land-based ecosystems — in other words, the feds just let the oil companies loose in the Gulf and turned their backs on the consequences of their actions.
It was only by chance that this practice became known. “Fracking has largely been in a shroud of secrecy,” explained Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at Center for Biological Diversity, whose group was tipped off to the practice after journalists revealed that fracking was occurring in federal waters off California, reports Think Progress.
Sakashita also says that the federal government has yet to release all documents, so the full scope of the offshore fracking may be even larger than we think. So far, the documents released show fracking is going on off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama with no public involvement.
EcoWatch highlights a study done in June 2015 by CHEM Trust, a UK charity that issued a report on how toxic chemicals from fracking could affect wildlife and people.
The report focused on the effects of the hundreds of chemicals, along with sand and water, that fracking companies use to fracture rocks. It warns of “significant” pollution to air, groundwater and surface waters as well as threats to wildlife and ecosystems.
The Center's analysis of the federal documents revealed that oil companies operating off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana discharged more than 76 billion gallons of such chemical-laced waters into the Gulf of Mexico in 2014 alone.
Just to remind folks, The EPA requires that wastewater produced by fracking on land be either put into storage wells or ponds, or be treated before being released back into streams and rivers. The EPA requires the water to be relatively clean for it to be put into surface water sources. But that's not the case offshore.
"Even the regulators, until recently, were not really aware it was happening," Sakashita said. "The EPA didn’t really know what chemicals — and still doesn’t know what chemicals — are being discharged into the Gulf of Mexico." That's because the chemicals used are kept secret.
To sum this all up in a neat little package, at least 10 fracking chemicals routinely used in offshore fracking could kill or harm a broad variety of marine species, including sea otters and fish, Center scientists have found. Other scientists have identified some common fracking chemicals to be among the most toxic in the world to marine animals.
If you are not angry after reading this, you should be. I am furious that the Obama administration has betrayed the American public, yet again. How can the federal government be so stupid as to allow not one or two, but 630 fracking sites to operate in the Gulf?
This is especially dangerous because the Gulf is still in the process of healing from the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010. Right now, I want everyone in the U.S. to know this is happening, because this incident affects all of us.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Gulf of Mexico, fracking licenses, rubberstamp process, oilwaste water, Contamination
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