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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 24, 2015 Isaac Orr: No, fracking isn't causing earthquakes

Source: Grand Forks Herald

The increase in earthquakes in these two states likely is due to the disposing of wastewater generated during the hydraulic fracturing process, not the fracturing process itself. The U.S. Geological Survey has stated, "Hydraulic...

July 20, 2015 What ever happened with Europe's fracking boom?

Source: DM.com

The Netherlands has banned fracking until 2020. Over the past several years, a number of other European countries declared a ban on exploiting new natural gas deposits. So, is the apparent European shale gas boom over?

July 17, 2015 Government makes ‘outrageous’ U-turn over fracking in precious wildlife sites (UK)

Source: The Guardian

The government has made a U-turn on its promise to exclude fracking from Britain’s most important nature sites, arguing that the shale gas industry would be held back if it was excluded from them.

July 16, 2015 Britain should avoid deep injection shale wells: task force

Source: Reuters

Britain should steer clear of using deep injection wells in shale oil and gas “fracking” and take extra steps to reduce the technique’s environmental and health effects, an industry-funded task force examining the sector said on...

July 16, 2015 Study finds those living near shale wells more likely to be hospitalized

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Residents of two northeastern Pennsylvania counties with a high density of active shale gas wells were more likely to be admitted to the hospital for heart, nervous system and other medical conditions than residents in...

July 15, 2015 Fracking in UK 'could be safe' under tighter regulation

Source: BBC News

Fracking could potentially be done safely in the UK under "rigorous regulation", but it is too early to say whether it would be "a good idea", the Task Force on Shale Gas has reported.

July 14, 2015 Justice Department warns food companies: Poison customers, risk prosecution

Source: The Augusta Chronicle

WASHINGTON — After a deadly listeria outbreak in ice cream, the Justice Department is warning food companies that they could face criminal and civil penalties if they poison their customers

July 10, 2015 Fracking poses multiple threats

Hattiesburg American - Industry points to the statement that fracking has not âled to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking îwaterî resources in the United States.â But closer examination of the report...

July 7, 2015 Refracking Is the New Fracking

Source: Bloomberg

If the word fracking has carved out a spot in the lexicon of Americans as the nation advances toward energy independence, then refracking, as roughnecks have begun calling it, could be next. And for an industry that has been...

July 6, 2015 Secrecy over fracking chemicals clouds environmental risks, advocates say

theguardian.com - A report by the Environmental Protection Agency (îEPAî) last month found that hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas can lead, and has led, to the contamination of drinking îwaterî. It was...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @AfriPeace: North West of Ireland landowners mobilising to keep out #fracking surveyors http://t.co/7axcTJR73a http://t.co/8cvZyQwB2w
    07:30
  • RT @powellds: Latest Govt research: public support for #fracking (21%) "at lowest since our survey began" https://t.co/jfFbZJ5vuC http://t.…
    07:30
    Peter Bagnall
  • RT @AfriPeace: North West of Ireland landowners mobilising to keep out #fracking surveyors http://t.co/7axcTJR73a http://t.co/8cvZyQwB2w
    07:29
  • RT @powellds: Latest Govt research: public support for #fracking (21%) "at lowest since our survey began" https://t.co/jfFbZJ5vuC http://t.…
    07:29
    Daren Mansfield
  • RT @powellds: Latest Govt research: public support for #fracking (21%) "at lowest since our survey began" https://t.co/eQ8A1oD5nO
    07:29
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