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Truth About Fracking

“Fracking” is the hydraulic fracturing process that involves injecting liquids into shale deposits deep underground; the intent is hydraulically fracture rock formations and release oil and gas found there. The process is accompanied by “horizontal drilling,” a relatively new process that enables drillers to get to shale deposits in a direction other than straight down from the drilling rig.

As a growing number of energy companies pursue this process to get to formerly-unavailable energy deposits deep in the earth, local communities are becoming more familiar with fracking and are responding to the practice. The growing public debate – at both local and national levels -- is in part about getting at domestic fossil fuel sources and lessen dependence on important oil and natural gas. And about creating new jobs and economic benefits in the regions where shale drilling takes place.

In some instances after the private property owner signs leases with oil and gas companies the after effects – the presence of drilling rigs, pumps and the like appearing on leased private property, at times too close to dwellings – has caused issues with landowners. To be sure, some landowners are happy to accommodate drillers and enjoy a cash stream of royalties. Farmers and ranchers look forward to these new revenue flows to cushion economic blows due to weather, downturns in commodity prices, or in 2012, and the possibility of reduced federal subsidies.

But other individuals and community leaders are looking not so positively at the presence of oil and gas drilling on their land and in their community.  And this is especially true in areas where public and private water supplies may be threatened by sloppy processes, as has occurred.

Also, public land leases are being sought, which raises the level of debate in certain regions…”who” actually owns public lands such as parks, preserves and sanctuaries that may have shale deposits beneath the ground?  What is the right of the public to be involved in decisions regarding leases?

Lately with media stories looking more closely at fracking, the public awareness of the liquids being pumped into the ground under pressure are also raising alarm – liquids used may or may not include hazardous waste chemicals, diesel oil and other unwanted substances in the local ecosystem.  Greater transparency on the part of the industry would address these concern. Chemicals used in fracking can and may have entered public water supplies. (Mostly, we are told, possible because of improper cementing just below the ground where there are water tables present.)

Questions are being raised about the potential impact of fracking on human and animal health, on agricultural products (including surface crops as well as grape vines and other deep-rooted plant life).

Naturally, oil and gas industry leaders have responded, usually with arguments the growing need for domestic oil and gas resources, and the jobs that fracking will create or preserve (you’ve no doubt seen the advertising on national and local TV by industry associations).  There is much less public communication from industry about the safety of fracking processes and the steps companies are taking to protect the ecosystem.

Energy industry experts point out that done properly, fracking should not affect water tables as the shale levels are deep beneath the ground; also, most chemicals used are not toxic waste.  There are pro and con arguments about these positions.  The fact is there are thousands of fracking wells drilled in the USA and in other countries.

The public debate on fracking in the USA now involves state regulatory officials, members of congress and other elected officials, public health professionals, environmentalists, academics, civil society organization leaders, industry oil and gas executives…and more. 

The regulatory framework to oversee fracking is not necessarily clear. Recently The New York Times reported on the growing focus in Congress on fracking in a recent series.   Part of the publication’s concerns are about permitting fracking near New York City’s upstate water supplies – in December 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering a “yes” or “no” in allowing fracking in New York State’s section of the Marcellus Shale deposits.  Public rallies in upstate New York State areas attracted hundreds of local citizens in November, reflecting the local concerns about the practice.

Proponents of fracking were encouraged by the nomination by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences nomination for the 2011 Academy Awards (the “Oscars”) for the anti-fracking documentary, “Gasland,” which is about fracking and human and community impact in the Marcellus Shale area (stretching through Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and into New York State).

This Hot Topic focus has been expanding as energy companies step up efforts to find new sources on US lands – mindful of exogenous events such as the cut-off of Middle East or other foreign oil that would put pressure on all sides as the nation’s leaders in the public and private sectors seek alternative energy sources.

The editors are collecting comments on Fracking (and other Hot Topics) from a wide range of sources in a best attempt to help our readers access as many views (perspectives) as possible.  We welcome commentary on fracking, especially from local civic leadership, and from industry managers.  Send comments to: info@accountabilty-central.com

 

December 1, 2011

 

 


Featured Fracking Commentators

Michael P. Benard Columns
Speaker, Writer, Coach on Communications Issues
Blogger on Property Rights & Energy Industry
Former Director, Communications and Public Affairs, and Vice President, Eastman Kodak Company

Latest on Truth About Fracking

January 27, 2015 How Fracking Contributes To Oil Glut, Cheap Fuel For You And Me

Source: Forbes

For the average consumer, the plummeting price of oil is very good news. Renting cars of varying shapes and sizes on visits to the U.S., I think about the price for a tank of gas almost as much as the cops lying in wait for...

January 26, 2015 U.K. Lawmakers Urge Fracking Delay on Water, Climate Risk

Source: Bloomberg

A moratorium on fracking is needed to prevent the U.K. from missing its carbon targets and allow time to stiffen regulations for the industry, Parliament’s cross-party Environmental Audit Committee said in a report Monday. It...

January 26, 2015 This Scientific Development Could Impact Fracking Litigation

texaslawyer.com - ... to a 2009 request by the U.S. House of Representatives that the îEPAî conduct scientific research to examine the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking îwaterî...

January 22, 2015 The Fracking Fracas over Earthquakes

Source: National Review Online

Despite the sensationalistic headlines and opinion pieces, fracking can trigger earthquakes only in very rare, very specific conditions, say the authors of the highly publicized study in this month’s Bulletin of the Seismological...

January 21, 2015 BHP is the latest company to slash its shale drilling forecast

Source: Fortune

BHP Billiton Plc ( BHP -1.00% ) has become the latest big oil name to slash its outlook for production from U.S. shale this year in response to falling prices.

January 21, 2015 Controversial Lancashire fracking plans face hurdle

Source: The Guardian

Proposals for fracking for shale gas at two sites in Lancashire should be refused, planning officers have recommended.Lancashire county council has published reports with recommendations on planning applications from shale...

January 20, 2015 Study used to bolster NY fracking ban developed by anti-fracking 'activists'

Source: Fox News

New York state’s controversial new fracking ban was bolstered in part by research written and peer-reviewed by scientists with ties to the anti-fracking movement – drawing criticism that their views were not disclosed when the...

January 19, 2015 Scottish government decision on fracking imminent

Source: The Guardian

Campaigners in Scotland believe a series of imminent decisions could force the SNP government to come off the fence on fracking. This week SNP MPs will have an opportunity to vote on an amendment to the infrastructure bill, a...

January 15, 2015 Fracking in New York Would Not Have Been as Lucrative as in Pennsylvania

Businessweek - According to a recent report from Bloomberg îNew Energy Financeî, the shale formations under New York âdo not appear as economically viable as the parts of those formations that underlie...

January 14, 2015 Obama Wants to Crack Down on Fracking Emissions

Source: Mother Jones

President Barack Obama will unveil a new plan to cut methane from America's booming oil and gas industry ahead of the State of the Union address, in an attempt to cement his climate legacy during his remaining two years in the...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • UK govt wants to use taxpayers' money to fund the #fracking industry. Tell @bisgovuk: no fracking way! http://t.co/K5lxQj9w0u
    07:16
    Ken Cope
  • RT @MulroyJohn: UK govt wants to use taxpayers' money to fund the #fracking industry. Tell @bisgovuk: no fracking way! http://t.co/5WG4jjXg…
    07:16
  • "Bribes and bullying are no way of dealing with genuine anxieties about a novel process" http://t.co/B9Ht2qwPsJ #fracking
    07:16
    Kyla Mandel
  • RT @enfield_greens: UK govt wants to use taxpayers' money to fund the #fracking industry. Tell @bisgovuk: no fracking way! http://t.co/Kmvn…
    07:16
  • UK govt wants to use taxpayers' money to fund the #fracking industry. Tell @bisgovuk: no fracking way! http://t.co/QO4L5gtSRi
    07:16
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