The onset and evolution of hydrofracking processes have triggered rapid growth in natural-gas and light crude oil extraction from deposits deep underground.  The processes involve horizontally drilling into shale rock, inserting steel and concrete reinforced wells, and injecting water, sand and various chemicals deep underground to fracture the shale rock formations that hold deposits.

In the next few decades, energy companies are planning on drilling tens of thousands of hydraulic-fracturing wells across the United States, with a heavy focus on large shale formations in New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and in the West.

The extraction of vast amounts of natural gas from previously inaccessible underground deposits has the potential to yield significant environmental, economic and national-security benefits.  Increased use of natural gas can reduce our dependence on coal, a dirtier fuel, while increased domestic oil and natural gas liquid production from shale can reduce our dependence on imported oil, which is a longstanding national-security objective.  Furthermore, increasing the energy supply through natural-gas drilling could potentially reduce energy costs and is creating jobs – which could contribute, at least in a small way, to the alleviation of poverty.

However, we also have serious concerns about known and as yet unknown impacts. Here, we are guided by the response of Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet, one of the greatest Talmudic authorities, who wrote, “One is forbidden from gaining a livelihood at the expense of another’s health.” (R, Responsum 196, 14th Century).

Environmental and quality-of-life issues associated with the hydrofracking industry include the potential for surface and ground water contamination, odors and air emissions, human and environmental health effects, visual blight, noise pollution, earthquakes, depletion of water sources, and road and other infrastructure deterioration.  Chronic human, animal, and environmental health issues have not been satisfactorily assessed, while the pace and spread of drilling continues to accelerate.

In addition to the impacts of drilling, there are additional impacts from the ongoing construction of an extensive network of pipelines to transport gas to processing facilities.

Although waste-water disposal practices are regulated at the federal level by the Clean Water Act, the failure of gas companies to properly control or dispose of residual waste-water from hydrofracking operations has been a frequent problem.  Moreover, oil and gas drilling have been granted an exemption from regulation under the Safe Water Drinking Act.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs believes that:

 

The community relations field should:

 
Share

Next Up:

Breast cancer

Take Action Donate

JCPA

Elana Ayalon

May 23, 2024

Jewish Insider: Across political and religious spectrum, 61 Jewish groups urge House to take up antisemitism bill

May 22, 2024

Broad Coalition of 61 National Jewish Organizations Urge Swift Congressional Action on Countering Antisemitism Act

JCPA

Ben Meyerson

May 14, 2024

JCPA Statement Marking Two Years Since the Buffalo Attack

May 12, 2024

Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Despite deep divides over Gaza, a Jewish leader seeks allies in defense of democracy

May 9, 2024

New Partnership Will Mobilize to Counter Rising Bigotry, Defend Democracy Spearheaded by Jewish Council for Public Affairs

May 9, 2024

JCPA Launches New Action Networks to Protect Democracy and Combat Hate

May 7, 2024

Jewish Council for Public Affairs Responds to President Biden’s Remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Days of Remembrance Ceremony

April 22, 2024

The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle: Antisemitism is a threat to all