Mass. Senate Passes 10-Year Fracking Moratorium

For Immediate Release

Mass. Senate Passes 10-Year Fracking Moratorium

Boston, MA. - The Massachusetts Senate approved a bill yesterday to place a ten-year moratorium on fracking and the disposal of fracking wastewater in the Commonwealth.

“Across the country, fracking is polluting drinking water and making families sick,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “We applaud Senate leaders for taking steps to ensure this dirty drilling and its toxic waste never come to Massachusetts.”

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method of drilling that involves injecting millions of gallons of water, often laced with toxic chemicals, deep underground to fracture rock formations and release oil and gas.

In a single year, fracking across the country produced at least 14 billion gallons of wastewater containing toxic and often radioactive elements -- wastewater for which there is no known failsafe disposal or treatment method.

Although fracking is not currently happening in Massachusetts, the Hartford Shale, a rock formation under the Connecticut River Valley, may contain deposits of gas suitable for drilling.

“The harm caused by fracking has no place in Massachusetts,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco. “Fracking releases harmful chemicals into our air while contaminating fresh groundwater, causing seismic events, flaring methane and severely harming public health." 

A growing number of documented cases show individuals suffering acute and chronic health effects while living near fracking operations — including nausea, rashes, dizziness, headaches and nose bleeds. Additionally, methane leaks from fracking wells and associated infrastructure are a significant source of global warming pollution.

“When an industry group held a seminar a few years back about fracking in the Hartford Basin, I immediately filed a bill to prevent this activity,” said Representative Denise Provost. “The Connecticut River Valley is heavily dependent on well water, and its surface waters provide much of the drinking water for Greater Boston. A fracking ban is essential to protect our irreplaceable water resources.”

More than 1,000 health professionals have called on state and federal officials to protect the public from the harms posed by fracking.

“Massachusetts has long been a leader when it comes to promoting clean energy and stopping global warming. A ban on fracking is a great way to continue our record of leadership,” said Hellerstein. “Now, it’s up to the House and Governor Baker to finish the job.”

If the senate-passed bill becomes law, Massachusetts would become the latest along the East Coast to restrict the dirty drilling practice. Vermont and New York have banned fracking, and Maryland has enacted a moratorium of its own. 

"Fracking has been a rolling environmental disaster across the country, poisoning waterways and marring landscapes," said Rachel Richardson, Stop Drilling Program director for Environment America, the national federation of Environment Massachusetts. "We're glad to see Massachusetts take steps to avoid fracking's destruction, and we hope more states will follow suit."

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Environment America is a federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations. Our professional staff in 27 states and Washington, D.C., combines independent research, practical ideas and tough-minded advocacy to overcome the opposition of powerful special interests and win real results for the environment. Environment America draws on 30 years of success in tackling environmental problems.

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