Oil giants sell thousands of California wells, raising worries about future liability for the toxic waste.
In a report from The Wall Street Journal, we detail new evidence of the deadly consequences of fracking—and the potential liability that oil companies risk every time they poison the land.
The oil industry has never made much of an effort in the United States to defend itself against the accusation that it’s responsible for a toxic cocktail of water, chemicals, and chemicals-laced air that now threatens the health of millions across the planet. But there’s a chance that, after years of silence and denial, more and more Americans are demanding that oil companies account for their role in the world’s biggest environmental disaster.
This past June, a fracking moratorium in Texas ended after the state’s attorney general sued to force the industry to disclose information about water contamination caused by its fracking operations. A month after the moratorium ended, a different state agency filed a similar suit against the industry to force its disclosure of the risks—and in that case, as many as 100,000 people have sued the industry.
Those lawsuits are prompting outrage from environmental justice groups and other voices in public health, and they’re making the industry nervous. And now the industry is looking for a new line of attack—it wants to find a way to say that fracking can be a good thing for the environment because it’s good for the economy.
The industry is not going to be able to stop these new lawsuits, and it’s unlikely it will be able to stop the legal proceedings now. It is, however, going to have to find a way to put a spin on these suits in ways that can survive a Supreme Court ruling on which chemicals in fracking fluid can be regulated.
Those chemicals aren’t just dangerous—they’re often lethal. What’s more, this new information will only fuel outrage and demands for a much broader and more comprehensive environmental justice conversation. People are coming to realize that these chemical hazards are not just a problem for communities of color—they’re also a health problem for communities with low income and even for whole populations. If the current trajectory continues, then the next generation of environmental justice activists might find themselves calling