Fracking risks in Alabama

A national treasure that provides delight to many Alabamians and a habitat for wildlife is at risk.
On June 14, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will auction off oil and gas excavation rights to 43,000 acres of Talladega National Forest. If the auction winners determine the land beneath the virgin forests contains petroleum or gas, the likely method of extracting it will be hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The fracking process injects millions of gallons of sand, water and chemicals into the ground, sometimes contaminating groundwater. The massive amount of waste chemicals are pumped into deep wells, creating seismic pressures.
The state of Ohio determined that fracking caused about a dozen earthquakes near an excavation site. Vermont has outlawed the practice and numerous states — not including Alabama — restrict it.
The lack of legislation in Alabama means that residents would have no way of determining what chemicals are being injected into the ground, information that companies try to keep secret.
Some weak bills opposing the Talladega auction were proposed in the Alabama Legislature in the most recent session, but none received a vote.
The national forest is home to Alabama’s highest point, Cheaha Mountain. The dense forests and spectacular vistas are home to white-tailed deer, quail, turkeys, rabbits and bald eagles. It is a popular destination for hunters, fishers, hikers and campers.
The pristine beauty of Talladega National Forest should never be sacrificed to drilling operations. Certainly the auction of 43,000 acres should be delayed until those who visit and who live near the national forest have a better understanding of the risks involved in fracking.

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