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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

July 25, 2014 Halliburton Fracking Spill Mystery: What Chemicals Polluted an Ohio Waterway?

Source: Mother Jones

On the morning of June 28, a fire broke out at a Halliburton fracking site in Monroe County, Ohio. As flames engulfed the area, trucks began exploding and thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals spilled into a tributary of the...

July 24, 2014 Pennsylvania Regulator Faulted for Lax Role in Fracking

Source: Bloomberg

Pennsylvania regulators were unprepared for the fracking-fueled boom in natural gas production during the past decade, putting drinking water supplies at risk, the state’s watchdog said. The state’s Department of Environmental...

July 24, 2014 The Hospital Disinfectant That's Making Fracking Greener

Source: Forbes

Fracking seems to have more going against it than for it, but a South Carolina-based company is hoping the oil and gas industry will mitigate environmental damages and health concerns with its latest product, Excelyte.

July 23, 2014 New York State of Fracking: A ProPublica Explainer

Source: ProPublica

New York is one of a handful of states around the country that currently has at least temporarily halted fracking. Since 2008, when the state was first confronted with interest in gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing by energy...

July 22, 2014 California reviews fracking water disposal amid contamination concerns

Source: Reuters

California said it would review wells where oil drilling waste water from the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is disposed to ensure they are not contaminating drinking water.

July 21, 2014 "Tea Party of the Left" wages ferocious battle over fracking

Source: Denver Post

Not that long ago, nurse Cliff Willmeng would have reacted to a question about hydraulic fracturing with a blank stare. Fracking, oil shale, drilling: those were words used by geologists, not an emergency-room worker. But a...

July 18, 2014 Germany Proposes Seven-Year Fracking Ban

Source: Environmental Working Group

Environmentalists in Germany have more to celebrate this week than a World Cup championship title. German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, in conjunction with Sigmar Gabriel, Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic...

July 16, 2014 Natural gas-rich Texas city rejects partial fracking ban; petition heads to voters

Source: US News

DENTON, Texas (AP) — The council governing a North Texas city that sits atop a large natural gas reserve rejected a bid early Wednesday morning to ban further permitting of hydraulic fracturing in the community after eight hours...

July 15, 2014 Why Fracking And Other Disasters Are So Hard to Stop

OpEdNews - A new report offers compelling evidence that fracking for natural gas is killing domestic animals like horses, cattle, goats, and sheep. The dead animals provide a strong warning that fracking can harm humans --...

July 15, 2014 States With Fracking See Surge In Earthquake Activity

Source: Huff Post

States where hydraulic fracturing is taking place have seen a surge in earthquake activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method could be to blame, especially the wells where the industry disposes of its...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @EcoWatch: Judge Strikes Down Longmont’s #Fracking Ban in Favor of ‘State’s Interest’ in #Oil and Gas http://t.co/m3KgVuuHin http://t.co…
    17:59
    Shane Destry
  • @WorAgFrack #Fracking co's lose 'social license'. Gr8 piece by @GeoffreyLean at http://t.co/gei6zwZLYe But 214 campaign groups not 130 tho'.
    17:59
    julie wassmer
  • RT @NeuseRiverFdn: Join me in speaking out against #fracking Wednesday, August 20 at NCSU McKimmon Center, 1101 Gorman St. Raleigh from 10 …
    17:58
    Mr. Babypants
  • #fracking - great information right here: http://t.co/Dv8XS6MQ7X #climatechange #ActOnClimate http://t.co/TDT9jvxPyS
    17:58
  • @climate_rev #Fracking co's lose 'social license'. Gr8 piece by @GeoffreyLean at http://t.co/gei6zwZLYe But 214 campaign groups not 130 tho'
    17:58
    julie wassmer
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