The researchers also uncovered several indirect effects of fracking that took them by surprise.
Steingraber explained that “the influx of temporary fracking workers into a community is associated with increases in sex trafficking, violence, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, traffic fatalities, and loss of affordable housing with attendant homelessness. Public schools also suffer.”
Those working on fracking sites don’t fare well either: Occupational fatalities in the industry are four to seven times the national average, and normal safety procedures don’t apply to the oil and gas industry due to legal exemptions.
The report also underscores the contribution of natural gas to anthropogenic climate change, although economics alone suggest that natural gas – along with equally affordable solar – will dominate the energy industry in the coming years.
Wastewater disposal by any means is the primary cause of the recent uptick in induced earthquakes in the US, including disposal linked to fracking. These aren’t always small quakes either: Wastewater disposal has been associated with tremors registering as high as 5.8M.
The authors of the report are also at pains to point out that the historical context of this report – published at a time of “deep environmental entrenchment”, climate change denial, major protective rollbacks, and the sidelining of academics – cannot be ignored.
“With 17 million people now living within a mile from a drilling and fracking site, there is a slow-motion public health crisis in the making,” said Steingraber.