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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 28, 2015 Fracking is not the cause of quakes. The real problem is fracking’s wastewater

Source: Washington Post

The maps highlight 17 hot spots where communities face a significantly increased risk of earthquakes, and the accompanying report links the earthquakes to injection wells used to dispose of fracking wastewater. Previous maps did...

April 24, 2015 U.S. Shale Fracklog Triples as Drillers Keep Oil From Market

Source: Bloomberg

Drillers in oil and gas fields from Texas to Pennsylvania have yet to turn on the spigots at 4,731 wells they’ve drilled, keeping 322,000 barrels a day underground, a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis shows. That’s almost as much...

April 23, 2015 An Earth Day call to ban fracking across this land

Source: NY Daily News

Flaming water, poisoned air and destroyed lives — that’s what I found when I traveled to Dimock, Pa., in 2009 to see the impacts of fracking firsthand. Six years later, this tragic story is one shared by countless Americans, too...

April 22, 2015 Oklahoma scientists say earthquakes linked to oil and gas work

Source: Reuters

Oklahoma geologists have documented strong links between increased seismic activity in the state and the injection into the ground of wastewater from oil and gas production, a state agency said on Tuesday.

April 20, 2015 Texas House approves bill that limits city bans on fracking

Source: Reuters

A bill that would stop Texas cities from enacting their own bans on hydraulic fracturing in the nation's top crude oil and natural gas producing state was approved on Friday in the state House of Representatives.

April 17, 2015 Business Viewpoint: The fracking truth may be a different truth

Source: Tulsa World

Whether scorned by those who view it as an environmental threat, or touted as the savior of the domestic energy industry, fracking is in the news. But, can you believe all you read? Is it true that fracking has resulted in...

April 14, 2015 What environmentalists get wrong when they use the California drought to attack fracking

Source: Washington Post

With the continual worsening of California’s drought, an odd argument — in some ways as much meme as argument — has arisen. It’s the notion that in the context of the drought, it’s important to cut back on the water used in...

April 6, 2015 Fracking deserves the negative attention

Source: Daily Trogan

Asking strangers on the street for their opinions on hydraulic fracturing is likely to elicit some blank stares. But asking them for their opinions on fracking will almost certainly evoke adamant reactions. And considering the...

April 3, 2015 Fracking Operators Ran Up 2.5 Violations a Day, Study Shows

Source: Bloomberg

Oil and gas drillers ran afoul of regulators on average 2.5 times a day in three energy-intensive states for mistakes such as wastewater spills, well leaks or pipeline ruptures during the boom in hydraulic fracturing.

April 2, 2015 How Much U.S. Oil and Gas Comes From Fracking?

Source: Wall Street Journal

Hydraulic fracturing has unleashed vast new quantities of crude oil and natural gas. The percentage of fuel flowing from shale-rock compared with traditional oil and gas fields has been steadily rising. But lackluster energy...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @EnviroNewsTV: Metropolitan Los Angeles + Downtown Dallas Texas both hit by #FRACKING earthquakes: http://t.co/mh9yGvDvXl @EnviroNewsTV
    18:29
    Rainiangel
  • RT @Medina_de_Pomar: Foto: Manifestación en Medina de Pomar contra las políticas a favor del #fracking vía @NoFrackingBu #SOSMerindades htt…
    18:29
    NoFracturaHidraulica
  • RT @FionaWhale: Saying it with tractors! #foodnotgas #fracking #lockthegate #csg 250 ppl and tractors declare SW Vic #gasfields free http:/…
    18:29
  • RT @DiariodeVurgos: #frackampada un encuentro internacional en la lucha contra el #Fracking del 13 al 19 de Julio http://t.co/hYKd6yxd0d h…
    18:27
    NoFracturaHidraulica
  • RT @frackfreemps: #Fracking Our Democracy - http://t.co/usIKrc3k1z An excellent radio show well worth a listen! ☺️ #GE2015 http://t.co/bU3J…
    18:27
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