The U.S. is in the midst of an oil and natural gas boom, but the industry says environmentalists could grind this to a halt.
Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs told an audience that the “Green Army” could kill the oil and gas boom, hurting jobs and economic growth in the state, with claims that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is contaminating water and polluting the air.
Briggs said that lawsuits from environmental groups against oil companies could drive them out of the state, taking the jobs and economic opportunity with them.
“We are under attack from these people, and we have to push back,” Briggs said.
Fracking often involves injecting sand, water and chemical mixtures into underground shale formations to extract hard-to-reach oil and natural gas. The drilling technique has led to a boom in oil and natural gas production on state and privately held lands in the last few years. Booming production has made the U.S. an energy powerhouse, expected to beat Saudi Arabia as the “the largest producer of liquids [fuel] in 2014,” according to BP Global.
Environmentalists argue that fracking contaminates water and harms air quality. Louisiana “Green Army” leader Gen. Russel Honoré, the former military head of Joint Task Force Katrina, responded to the oil and gas industry by saying that oil companies “can kill people, fish, shellfish and land if they aren’t willing to help clean up the mess they made, wholly or in part,” reports The News-Star.
“I’ll go to Baton Rouge and bring a bottle full of fracking water to each one of those Louisiana legislators who says fracking water is harmless and invite them to drink it,” Honoré said. “If there’s nothing wrong with it, each one of them will drink the whole bottle.”
Environmentalists have also tried to link things like earthquakes, birth defects and cancer outbreaks to fracking — though none of these things have ever been linked to the drilling practice.
Gasland producer and eco-activist Josh Fox tried to claim that fracking was causing breast cancer rates to spike in North Texas Barnett Shale, where oil and gas companies have been drilling for about a decade.
“In Texas, as throughout the United States, cancer rates fell,” Fox says in his short film “The Sky is Pink.” “Except in one place: in the Barnett Shale. The five counties where there was the most drilling saw a rise in breast cancer throughout the counties.”
This claim, however, was proven to be false after it was revealed that Fox lacked the evidence to back up his accusation and after medical experts said there was no such spike in breast cancer rates.
The Associated Press noted, “David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an email that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred. … And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.”
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