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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

April 17, 2014 Radioactive Waste Booms With Fracking as New Rules Mulled

Source: Bloomberg

Oilfields are spinning off thousands of tons of low-level radioactive trash as the U.S. drilling boom leads to a surge in illegal dumping and states debate how much landfills can safely take. State regulators are caught between...

April 16, 2014 Shale Gas Wells Feature Massive Methane Levels

Softpedia News - Before this study, everyone, from gas producers to experts on the United Nations îIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeî (IPCC), touted natural gas as a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly...

April 16, 2014 Here's What Fracking Can Do to Your Health

Source: Mother Jones

Although the natural gas industry is notoriously tight-lipped about the ingredients of the chemical cocktails that get pumped down into wells, by now it's widely known that the list often includes some pretty scary, dangerous...

April 9, 2014 New book on fracking illuminates pros, cons

Source: Telegram.com

The once-obscure oil and gas drilling process known as fracking has generated hundreds of billions of dollars and considerable dissent, as communities and experts argue over how to balance the vast amounts of money at stake with...

April 9, 2014 Fracking with CO2 to replace water a distant goal, GE says

Source: Reuters

Carbon dioxide, used for years to force crude oil out of old wells, likely will not replace water in fracking anytime soon because of technical challenges and limited infrastructure, says General Electric Co , which is studying...

April 8, 2014 The Daily Show Buys Into Anti-Fracking Hysteria

Source: Forbes

As a big fan of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (I paid full price to see “Doogle,” although perhaps I shouldn’t brag about that), it always bothers me when they misrepresent a factual issue. Not holding views I disagree with,...

April 7, 2014 Declare a California fracking moratorium now

Source: SF Gate

Water is top-of-mind for most Californians. Amid calls for conservation, we have overlooked an obvious step to protect water supplies: stopping extreme oil-extraction techniques such as fracking and well stimulation.

April 4, 2014 House Democrats Call On EPA To Investigate Fracking’s Link To Water Contamination In Three States

Source: Climate Progress.org

House Democrats are calling on the EPA to reopen an investigation into whether fracking operations contaminated water in Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Texas. Eight members of Congress sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy...

April 2, 2014 In Fracking Fight, How to Measure Health Threats?

Source: Scientific America

There are more than 6,000 active gas wells in Pennsylvania. And every week, those drilling sites generate scores of complaints from the state’s residents, including many about terrible odors and contaminated water.How the...

April 1, 2014 Fracking operations may start in Pennsylvania against landowners' will

Source: RT

An energy company is hoping to use a little-used, 53-year-old Pennsylvania law in order to launch a fracking operation on land even if landowners oppose the action. The incident revolves around a potential oil and gas site in New...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @MarkRuffalo: Via @timesunion "Caution on #fracking wise" - science shows contamination, health impacts, etc http://t.co/D5tyPxK9P5 http…
    17:09
  • RT @OccupyYtown: #fracking New research on Texas frack zones: "ozone levels in fracking areas have been increasing steadily and... http://t…
    17:08
  • RT @OccupyYtown: #fracking According to Mr. Poister, who talked to the DEP inspector who visited the scene, Range workers were... http://t.…
    17:08
  • RT @frackfree: RT @marcellus_SWPA & @EFCidade Beaver Cty 5.5+ hours w/ no water! #Fracking crew hit main water line in N #Sewickley Twnshp …
    17:08
    WhoIsGovt
  • RT @citizensclimate: The Methane Monster: The #Fracking Industry Faces Its #Climate Demon http://t.co/XJwphzxMDd via @nationaljournal
    17:08
    WhoIsGovt
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