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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

December 19, 2014 Could New York's Fracking Ban Have Domino Effect?

Source: National Geographic

New York's decision to ban fracking for health reasons could reverberate beyond the state, bolstering other efforts to limit the controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas.

December 18, 2014 Gov. Andrew Cuomo Bans Fracking In New York Over Health Concerns

Source: CBS News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration prohibited fracking in New York Wednesday citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.

December 17, 2014 Is fracking polluting the air?

Source: USA Today

Toxic air pollution from fracking causes a wide spectrum of health problems for Americans across the country, an environmental group charged in a report released Tuesday.

December 15, 2014 Report claims oil, gas drillers more open about fracking risks

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW - The scorecard from îAs You Sowî, Boston Common Asset Management, Green Century Capital Management and the Investor Environmental Health Network ranked 30 oil and gas companies on their use...

December 9, 2014 More municipal bans on fracking pose setback to domestic energy boom

Source: Fox News

The surge in domestic-energy production that has created millions of new jobs and abundant natural gas and oil is now facing a potential setback, with cities across the country imposing bans on the widely-used deep-drilling...

December 8, 2014 Study Links Fracking to Infertility, Miscarriages, Birth Defects

Source: US News

A new study links shale oil and gas development to a host of developmental and reproductive health risks, and says the processes involved – including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – pose a particularly potent threat to what...

December 5, 2014 Environmental group lawsuit targets offshore fracking in California

Source: Reuters

An environmental group threatened on Thursday to sue the federal government unless it halts offshore fracking in California immediately, the latest legal challenge levied against the controversial oil extraction technique.

December 5, 2014 Natural Gas Reserves Reach “Record High

Source: Northcentral Pa.com

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves, 2013 released today found “U.S. total natural gas proved reserves increased 10% in 2013 and reached a new U.S. record of 354 Tcf.”...

December 2, 2014 OPEC’s War on Fracking Is Good News for the Rest of Us

Source: The New Yorker

The biggest news over Thanksgiving weekend was a sharp drop in the price of crude oil, which followed a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, at a meeting, in Vienna, not to try and stabilize prices...

November 24, 2014 Small quake shakes Dallas area, stirring fracking critics

Source: Reuters

A light earthquake shook the Dallas-Ft. Worth area of North Texas on Saturday night, leaving no known damage or casualties but stirring concern about the potential of the area's oil and gas fracking industry to generate seismic...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • The Alarming Research Behind New York's #Fracking Ban http://t.co/M8lWAEdmtk via @TheAtlantic #NewYork #climatechange http://t.co/QbbBHsbJw1
    00:35
  • RT @talkfracking: Texas A&M University @TAMU study says #fracking is adding to the state's overuse of #water resources http://t.co/cExcddAm…
    00:35
    Frackstorm
  • RT @talkfracking: @MBRoberts4004 @TAMU the scary part is each #fracking well requires approx 5 million gallons of #water. How is the #uk go…
    00:34
    Frackstorm
  • RT @FrackFreefamily: #labourparty are profracking & all for removing homeowner rights #fracking @UKLabour @LancsLabour #binthebill http://t…
    00:34
    Frackstorm
  • “@triplepundit: New York State to Ban #Fracking Due to #Health Risks | http://t.co/7WvI5B3BdE @JanLeeThiem mentions @WinesandVines”
    00:26
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