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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

October 31, 2014 Gas wastewater likely triggered 2011 quake in Colorado: USGS

Source: Reuters

Underground disposal of wastewater from gas production likely triggered a moderate earthquake in Colorado in 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Wednesday in a study that may fuel debate over the impact of the U.S. energy...

October 30, 2014 Sweet fracking: How U.S. oil boom fuels chocolate craving

Source: Reuters

U.S. chocolate demand may get an extra boost from an unlikely source this Halloween: the U.S. shale revolution. With an abundance of crude oil due to the country's fracking boom pushing average U.S. retail gasoline prices to...

October 30, 2014 Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens Skyrocket Near Fracking Sites

Source: US News

Oil and gas wells across the country are spewing “dangerous" cancer-causing chemicals into the air, according to a new study that further corroborates reports of health problems around hydraulic...

October 27, 2014 SPOTLIGHT: Fracking boom prompts gas pipeline development

Source: Daily News Journal

Spurred by the nation's fracking boom, Dominion proposed in September its largest natural gas pipeline — a nearly $5 billion project to move vast supplies produced in the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast.

October 24, 2014 Fracking Companies Using Toxic Benzene in Drilling: Group

Source: Bloomberg

Some oil and gas drillers are using benzene, which can cause cancer, in the mix of water and chemicals they shoot underground to free trapped hydrocarbons from shale rock, an environmental watchdog group said today.

October 23, 2014 Loophole Allows Many Dangerous Chemicals In Fracking Fluids To Go Undisclosed: Report

Source: Huff Post

WASHINGTON -- When it comes to environmental pollutants, sometimes what's legal is what's most worrying. That's the conclusion of a new report on a major loophole in the regulations governing hydraulic fracturing.

October 21, 2014 Finding Fracking Fluids In The Environment

Source: Science 2.0

New geochemical tracers can identify any hydraulic fracturing flowback fluids that could have spilled into the environment, according to field tests at a spill site in West Virginia and downstream from an oil and gas brine...

October 10, 2014 California aquifers contaminated with billions of gallons of fracking wastewater

Source: RT

Industry illegally injected about 3 billion gallons of fracking wastewater into central California drinking-water and farm-irrigation aquifers, the state found after the US Environmental Protection Agency ordered a review of...

October 1, 2014 Exxon fracking report responds to shareholders

Source: Houston Chronicle

Exxon Mobil issued a report Tuesday that acknowledges the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing but also defends the practice as being better for the environment than other types of energy production and generation.

September 29, 2014 Nation rushes to embrace natural gas and fracking despite risks to environment

Source: Washington Post

Most of the country’s leaders, from President Obama down, have touted gas as a “clean” fuel. This is handy, because technological advances in hydraulic fracturing of shale rock, or fracking, have produced an abundance of gas.

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • "@FrackingFuera: Altos niveles de carcinógenos en el aire en sitios de 'fracking' en EU http://t.co/Ya1oC7UKCO #Fracking"
    16:11
    Fuck fracking
  • @camilosilvaj lo invitamos a conocer más sobre #fracking desde diferentes análisis. #laverdaddelfracking llegó: http://t.co/OtCxLSya7L
    16:11
  • RT @mamajasper: Let's hope the govt take notice of this high toxic, unsafe method of #fracking before its too late!! #2015 http://t.co/2hO…
    16:11
    John E Jefferson
  • @Justiciaypazcol los invitamos a conocer más sobre #fracking desde diferentes análisis. #laverdaddelfracking llegó: http://t.co/OtCxLSya7L
    16:11
  • Tell @EPA to take action on #fracking and #methane pollution. http://t.co/qUbzut6YtK Via @CleanAirMoms
    16:10
    Chris Beal
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