Environment | National

Report warns of threats from fracking to water supply in West

A new study says stressed communities in the West are facing growing competition from hydraulic fracturing, a controversial energy-processing technique that's commonly known as fracking.

Fracking requires the use of millions of gallons of water to extract oil and gas. About 47 percent of this activity occurs in water basins under high or extremely high stress, the report from Ceres said.

The report said two states in particular -- Texas and Colorado -- faced threats to their water supply. Both states have experienced prolonged drought conditions, according to Ceres.

Fracking is practiced at sites on and near reservations, primarily in North Dakota but also in Montana and Wyoming. North Dakota sits within the Bakken Formation, which contains twice as much oil and three times as much gas than previously thought, the Interior Department said in a new assessment.

Proposed regulations from DOI assert authority to regulate fracking on public lands and Indian lands. Some tribes have objected to the treatment of Indian lands as public lands.

H.R.1548, the Native American Energy Act, bars DOI from regulating fracking on Indian lands without the "express consent" of the tribe or the individual Indian owner. The Obama administration opposes the bill, a Bureau of Indian Affairs official said at at hearing last week.

Get the Story:
Spread of Hydrofracking Could Strain Water Resources in West, Study Finds (The New York Times 5/2)
Northern plains site has twice as much oil as previously thought, Interior says (The Washington Post 5/1)
USGS nearly doubles 2008 estimate, says 7.4 billion barrels of oil possible in ND and Mont. (AP 4/30)

Get the Report:
New Study: Hydraulic Fracturing Faces Growing Competition for Water Supplies in Water-Stressed Regions (Ceres 5/1)

Related Stories:
Audio from House subcommittee hearing on Indian energy bill (4/26)
Coalition of Large Tribes criticizes DOI regulation for fracking (5/10)

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