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In Opposition to Hydraulic Fracturing

WHEREAS, fracking is a short term for hydraulic fracturing- the most common process to extract natural gas from the earth, and involves injecting high pressure water and chemicals (fracking fluid) into shale and other tight-rock formations, a mile or more below the surface; and

WHEREAS, fracking is controversial because of its destructive environmental impacts, which include the contamination of groundwater, the production of toxic waste, the consumption of large amounts of water (up to a million gallons of water used at each well), and negative health effects experienced by workers, nearby communities and wildlife; and 

WHEREAS, a September 2015 study from researchers at Duke University found that fracking operators used approximately 250 billion gallons of water from 2005 to 2014 to extract oil and natural gas from hydraulically fracked wells; accounting for less than one percent of total industrial water use in the United States; and

WHEREAS, injection well operations for high volumes of waste water disposal, from hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells, in the form of fluid injections and underground disposal wells, are common practices in "fracking" and other unconventional oil and gas extraction methods; and 

WHEREAS, stress on subsurface and surface water and quantity can be acute in areas of low rainfall or drought; and water quality can be affected by contamination due to, underground methane migration, and leaks and spills of chemicals and drilling wastewater; and 

WHEREAS, compressor stations are needed every 40 to 100 miles along pipelines to re-pressurize natural gas and keep it moving and like other industrial facilities, compressor stations are allowed to emit limited amounts of air pollutants; and

WHEREAS, fracking is believed to have induced seismicity, causing earthquakes clusters or seismic swarms, usually referred to as frack quakes - even in areas not known for seismic activity; and

WHEREAS, in 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey found that wastewater disposal, rather than fracking, was the main cause of an increase in earthquakes throughout the central United States from 2009 to 2013 and that wastewater disposal wells raise pressure levels more than fracked wells, due to the larger amounts of fluid used in wastewater disposal wells than in fracked wells; thus, wastewater disposal wells are more likely to produce induced seismic events than fracked wells; and

WHEREAS, until recently, earthquakes had been unusual in the central United States; however, Oklahoma surpassed California in 2014, by experiencing three times more seismic activity, prompting observational seismologic researchers, seismologists from the University of Oklahoma and Columbia University and many renowned scientists and geologists to conclude that disposal wells and quakes are likely connected; and

WHEREAS, the impacts of fracking on air quality are difficult to calculate, as with any type of energy production, steps during the process (extraction and transportation) can produce air pollutants at varying levels depending on the level of operations in a particular area; and

WHEREAS, fracking can release toxic chemicals, such as: benzene, toluene, xylene, particulate matter, ozone, formaldehyde and nitrogen oxides, into the environment that can affect human health; in particular, airborne chemicals released during drilling, construction, operation or transport activities have been linked to cancer, nervous system disorders, birth defects, and in some instances, death; and

WHEREAS, air pollution sources during fracking can include road and pipeline construction, well drilling and completion, and natural gas processing, transportation, and storage; however, the main pollutants released during the fracking process include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter; and

WHEREAS, pollutants such as VOCs react with nitrogen oxides to produce ground-level ozone, also known as smog, emitted during fracking are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state agencies under the Clean Air Act; and 

WHEREAS, water, air, odors, toxic gases, noise, and light, localized air pollution and odors from gases, dust and exhaust from trucks and equipment, noise and brilliant light may persist around the clock from drilling and attendant operations; and

WHEREAS, accidents and spills of toxic materials and hazardous waste may occur on drilling sites or during transport and could cause damage to roads from trucking; increased risk of traffic accidents due to heavy truck traffic; and increased social, public safety, emergency service, infrastructure, and administrative costs; and

WHEREAS, because fracking produces what is referred to as "natural gas", it is often erroneously perceived as a clean, safe alternative to other fossil fuels; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People reaffirms its 2016 Resolution Against Natural Gas as a Climate Solution, or a "Bridge" Fuel to a Clean Energy Future.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls upon the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use the authority vested in it under the provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to enforce regulations of onshore natural gas fracking for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and to immediately implement the proposed updates to the 2012 New Source Performance Standards to add methane to the pollutants covered in the Overview of Final Amendments to Air Regulations for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP urges the EPA to adhere to its obligations under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to regulate on-site direct discharges of wastewater pollutants into navigable waters of the United States, including the discharge of all gas wastewater from fracking sites, and that EPA will revise the interpretation of its authority to include regulatory oversight of coalbed methane fracking as well.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP requests the EPA to expand the scope of its authority to include regulating the sub-surface reinjection of fracking wastewater, which poses the majority of risk due to the underground nature of fracking.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP applauds U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez's April 24, 2019 decision to decline reconsideration of his ruling that bars the Trump administration, in particular, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), from issuing offshore drilling permits for hydraulic fracturing in U.S. territorial waters off the coast of California, without first conducting environmental reviews; rejecting DCOR's (formerly known as Dos Cuadras Offshore) request for review.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP commends Judge Gutierrez's original 2018 judgement which concluded that the Trump administration violated the Endangered Species Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act by allowing fracking in federal waters in the Pacific Ocean, by failing to consult adequately with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the California Coastal Commission before issuing permits to drilling companies.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP petitions federal and state governments to enact anti-fracking legislation pending a complete environmental emissions analysis, a health impacts assessment at all points- from the ground to shipping to dumping, and a comprehensive, observational seismologic research in evaluating possible causes of induced seismicity.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP lauds the actions of states such as Vermont, New York, Maryland and Oregon, who have already enacted moratoriums on fracking and supports proposed actions of other states to impose moratoriums to prevent and prohibit the human-induced dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing.