Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a largely unregulated drilling process that injects millions of gallons of water, sand, and undisclosed chemicals at high pressure into horizontal wells to crack open shale rock and release natural gas. Fracking has accelerated rapidly in recent years, but it poses a significant threat to groundwater and our environment.
While fracking does not take place in Connecticut, new fracked gas pipelines have been proposed. Furthermore, there is always the threat that dirty fossil fuel companies might seek to dispose of their fracking waste in our state, risking contamination to our water and land.
FRACKED GAS PIPELINES
In 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly passed the Pipeline Tax to fund a new fracked gas pipeline proposed to run across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Under the Pipeline Tax, Connecticut homeowners, ratepayers, and small businesses would be forced to pick up the tab for the big energy companies at a total cost of over $6.6 billion.
This pipeline would do nothing to encourage Connecticut to transition to clean energy, and it would make everyday citizens pay for a pipeline that a 2017 study by Synapse Energy Economics found was ultimately unnecessary. The study found New England's use of natural gas would fall by 41% of 2015 levels by the year 2030 thanks to clean energy requirements, emissions caps, and energy efficiency targets. Massachusetts swiftly took action to halt the pipeline project and prevent its funding on the backs of consumers.
In 2018, Connecticut lawmakers led by Sen. Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) and Rep. Chris Rosario (D-Bridgeport) introduced a bill to repeal the Pipeline Tax and end this threat to Connecticut residents and our environment. This legislation was originally raised in 2017 as HB 6546, but was not raised in committee.
Waste from fracking operations contains many dangerous contaminants including:
Chemicals and naturally-occurring elements known to cause organ damage, neurological and developmental problems, birth defects, and other serious health problems
Radioactive isotopes including radium-226 and radium-228
Unknown chemical additives from proprietary, unregulated industry formulas
Though Connecticut has no natural gas deposits, nearby states like Pennsylvania have numerous fracking operations, putting our land at risk for waste disposal. The General Assembly issued a three-year moratorium on fracking waste in 2014, requiring the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to issue regulations by July 2018, but that hasn't yet happened.
In 2018, the State House passed a bill that would have permanently banned fracking waste, but it died in the Senate.
Instead, towns and municipalities have largely been left on their own to pass ordinances banning the disposal of toxic fracking waste. More than 40 Connecticut communities have banned fracking waste disposal in their borders already, but until a statewide ban is passed, our groundwater and environment remain at risk.