The fracking industry has increased the U.S.’s production of oil to the point that its price-per-gallon has remained relatively low. The introduction of electric cars has decreased the nations need for oil, too. Yet, there is an ugly downside to fracking.
A Denver Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit refused to reconsider a decision it made in September, which undid a former court ruling that overturned President Barack Obama’s federal land fracking rule.
A Wyoming Federal Court ruled in 2016 that the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) never received authority from Congress to regulate fracking. The states and industry interest groups opposed this rule and asked the court to reconsider dismissing the original case.
The appeals court ruled Wednesday that no judge wanted to pursue the case for a second hearing. Yet, the court could put Obama’s rule back into force, because it does not take effect until January 12. That would give the Trump administration two full weeks to finish the repeal process, before the original ruling is brought back.
It appears that the order makes no difference, since Donald Trump’s Interior Department is working hard to repeal President Obama’s fracking regulation, along with every other Obama executive order.
The Circuit Court dismissed a September appeal of the Wyoming decision, because the Trump Administration was repealing the Obama rule.
The higher court wrote in its ruling:
‘Our proceeding to address whether the District Court erred in invalidating the BLM’s fracking regulation when the BLM has now commenced rescinding that same regulation appears to be a very wasteful use of limited judicial resources.’
Environmentalists want a Democrat to win the next presidential election, one who would reinstate the Obama rule. They received a win this time around, because the Circuit Court vacated the lower ruling, stating that it, too, was moot.
Fracking has a number of harmful environmental effects. One that has been virtually overlooked is how fracking affects pregnant women. A recent John Hopkins study found that fracking has “adverse health outcomes.” The study leader, Brian Scchwartz said:
‘The growth in the fracking industry has gotten way out ahead of our ability to assess what the environmental and, just as importantly, public health impacts are,. Our research adds evidence to the very few studies that have been done showing adverse health outcomes associated with the fracking industry.’
Johns Hopkins researchers found:
‘Expectant mothers living in the most active area of fracking drilling and production activity were 40 percent more likely to give birth prematurely (before 37 weeks of gestation). Eleven percent of babies in this study were born pre-term. In addition, the women were 30 percent more likely to have a pregnancy labeled “high-risk,” which can refer to factors such as high blood pressure or excessive weight gain.’
The study cannot say why living near the most active wells caused women to worse outcomes. Schwartz pointed out that each step in the drilling process affects the surrounding environment. One impact is poor air quality. Another is the maternal stress that comes from increased noise, traffic, earthquakes, and other disturbances. He said:
‘Now that we know this is happening, we’d like to figure out why. Is it air quality? Is it the stress? They’re the two leading candidates in our minds at this point. The first few studies have all shown health impacts. Policymakers need to consider findings like these in thinking about how they allow this industry to go forward.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla.