America's early fracking frenzy has subsided into a rolling boil of controversy in states where the controversial natural gas drilling technique now threatens to expand its reach.

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Seeing the disaster that fracking has become in places like Texas and Pennsylvania, citizens and environmentalists are pushing state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to stop it now. This doesn't mean wait-and-see. This doesn't mean letting drillers frack-up more rivers and aquifers, and then regulate later.

This means, Ban fracking now.

Food & Water Watch has launched a campaign on asking Congress to do just that. They are already gaining momentum around the country, and have released a report today making their case.

The group estimates that at least 55 localities across the U.S. have, over the past year, passed measures to stop fracking in their jurisdictions. Highland Park, a community in New Jersey, became the first town in the country to call for a state and national ban. Today, a number of state legislators in New Jersey joined this call. The latest locality to join to ban fracking is Morgantown, West Virginia, where a gas company had already placed a frack well near the community's water treatment plant and right near the Monongahela River.

Gasland director Josh Fox has, as always, added fire to this push with an editorial in USA Today calling for a full ban.

The facts make the case on their own.

More than 1,000 cases of water contamination have already been reported near fracking sites, and in the past 18 months, at least 10 studies by scientists, Congress, investigative journalists and public interest groups have documented environmental problems with fracking, according to Food & Water Watch. Some findings include:

Toxic chemicals present in fracking fluid could cause cancer and other health problems.

Fracking wastewater contains high levels of radioactivity and other contaminants that wastewater treatment plants have had difficulty removing; this potentially contaminated wastewater can then be discharged into local rivers.

In Pennsylvania, more than 3,000 gas fracking wells and permitted well sites are located within two miles of 320 day care centers, 67 schools and nine hospitals.

One by one, communities will continue to deal with barely regulated gas companies that are threatening water supplies, rivers and air quality. But Congress could end this in one fell swoop by heeding Food & Water Watches call to ban fracking now. Sign their petition if you agree.

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Photo credit: Progress Ohio via Flickr

Jess Leber is a editor. She most recently covered climate and energy issues as a reporter in Washington, D.C

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