What’s Your Fracking Problem? New York State Has One: 17 Foals Born With Rare Birth Defect May Be Linked To Fracking Fluids On Site

Fracking May Be Related To A Cluster Of Foals In New York State Born Stillborn Or With Rare Genetic Disorders

A cluster of rare birth defects and stillborn foals at a horse breeding facility in the Southern Tier of New York has many crying foul over the possibility of fracking chemicals tainting water supplies. So far 17 foals have been identified with the inability to swallow, also known as dysphagia, and the site’s owner believes fracking could be to blame.

But of course, we can’t know for sure that fracking chemicals caused this. Hell, we can’t even know what chemicals the companies are using in their fracking operations. Which is where the problems begin.

One of the most egregious things to come out of the great fracking boom we’ve witnessed over the last decade or so–that is, aside from the flaming tap water, the all-night, foul-smelling machinery running on people’s land, the tainted water supplies, the earthquakes and the massive increase in greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere–is the so-called Halliburton loophole.

You remember Halliburton–they’re the company formerly helmed by Dick Cheney that gave us so many gifts over the years: “cost-plus” in Iraq, a system under which trucks and other heavy equipment were routinely set on fire and destroyed if they got so much as a flat tire or ran out of gas, simply because the company could recoup the total value plus from the taxpayer. They also gave us the shoddy concrete well head at the Deep Horizon well that blew out and killed 11 workers and released nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

And now we can also thank them for the so-called Halliburton Loophole, which exempts practitioners of hydraulic fracturing or fracking from being subject to the regulations of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means the EPA cannot regulate fracking, so it is left to the states to do so.

Which brings us back to New York state and the sick foals. Since the slurry of chemicals fracking companies use to pump into the ground and crack the rock below to release gas and oil are proprietary, and conveniently fall outside the strictures of the Safe Water Drinking act, local horse breeders and veterinarians can only guess as to the cause of the horses’ illness.

For their part, local vets are conducting their own research into what may be causing the epidemic of horse birth defects. They cite the presence of a gas well adjacent to the breeding farm in question as the “prime suspect.”

Still one wonders what good it would ultimately do even if there were conclusive, ironclad proof that fracking fluids were the cause. The EPA still can’t regulate it, state legislatures have proven themselves malleable to the desires of big oil and gas time and again, and the Senate recently rejected a proposal to roll back the Halliburton Loophole.

So that leaves the fight squarely where it is on so many questions like this one: firmly in the hands of the citizenry. We must continue to fight and complain and push in our states and local city councils against this monster that has been unleashed on the land.

The only way they win is if we give up.


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