Hydrofracturing and the Impact on Your Clean Water

fracking well pad

Natural Gas Hydrofracturing well | Ecoflight

American Rivers is a national leader working to protect and restore rivers and clean water. As industry seeks to exploit once thought inaccessible natural gas fields across the United States using the new technology of high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (also called hydrofracturing, hydrofracking or fracking) we must ensure that energy development does not jeopardize rivers and clean water, including drinking water supplies.  

The increasing pace of natural gas development threatens rivers and streams that provide clean drinking water, habitat for fish and wildlife, and recreational opportunities, such as fishing and boating. Natural gas development enjoys exemptions from keystone environmental laws, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act, exemptions not provided to other industries.

American Rivers supports requiring the natural gas industry, in concert with the rest of the energy industry, to adhere to adequate and enforceable measures to protect our rivers, streams, and groundwater from pollution. We also believe particularly sensitive places should remain off limits to energy development to preserve our highest quality clean waters.

We must balance development needs with adequate environmental protections for clean water and healthy watersheds. In the push to develop domestic sources of energy nationwide, the direct and cumulative impacts to water quality in streams and rivers have been largely ignored and accountability for environmental degradation has been lax at best. Unchecked by adequate safeguards, natural gas production has the potential to pollute clean water for millions of people. We have already experienced instances of surface and groundwater pollution, air pollution, soil contamination, habitat fragmentation, and erosion from extracting gas from shale using fracking where proper safeguards were not in place or followed.

Over the past few years American Rivers has highlighted the threat of unbridled natural gas development to clean water and healthy rivers, such as the Upper Delaware, Susquehanna, Monongahela, and Hoback Rivers (a tributary of the pristine Snake River headwaters in Wyoming), in our annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® list.

Moving forward, American Rivers has a commonsense three-part strategy to adequately safeguard the clean water from natural gas development:

  • Remove loopholes for the natural gas industry from the basic federal and state laws and rules protecting clean water starting with the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act.
  • Protect the highest quality rivers and streams, including drinking water source areas, keeping them off-limits to natural gas drilling.
  • Partner with industry leaders willing to set a higher bar for natural gas practices, and encourage regulators to adopt the best standards of practice to protect clean water.

American Rivers will continue applying our outreach, policy, and technical expertise to promote responsible natural gas policies that will ensure clean water and public health.

More Information About Fracking and How It Affects Your Clean Water