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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mining For Energy Threatens Deeper Water Reserves

Thousands of small black boxes used for uranium mining are scattered across Christensen Ranch in Wyoming. (Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Thousands of small black boxes used for uranium mining are scattered across Christensen Ranch in Wyoming. (Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

The EPA has granted more than 1,500 permits to energy and mining companies to inject dangerous pollutants into aquifers across some of the driest parts of the U.S. Some scientists and environmentalists say we’re going to need that water to drink and grow crops.

ProPublica reporter Abram Lustgarten says the permits are exemptions to the Safe Drinking Water Act, and are based on an old ruling, which says companies can pollute water that is too deep or too difficult to purify for drinking purposes.

But in at least 100 recorded cases, the permits have been granted to pollute aquifers that people are drawing on for drinking water. In other cases, the pollution has seeped beyond their original underground storage areas.

With new technology making it affordable to drill for water that was once thought too deep to use, states are being forced to choose between income today (for mining energy resources) and drinking water tomorrow.

Recent stories by Abram Lustgarten:

Guest:


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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