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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

June 24, 2015 Judge blocks federal fracking rule

Source: The Hill

A federal judge in Wyoming has temporarily blocked implementation of the Obama administration’s regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal land, hours before they were set to take effect.

June 12, 2015 U.S. fracking rules to face early legal test

Source: Reuters

Energy industry groups and states that oppose new U.S. rules for hydraulic fracturing on public lands are headed to court this month to try to block the regulations a day before they are to take effect.

June 8, 2015 Why New York's Fracking Ban for Natural Gas is "Unsustainable"

Source: Forbes

In December, New York became the 2nd state after Vermont to prohibit hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) statewide. Although a few others have joined in, New York is the only state with significant shale gas potential to ban...

June 2, 2015 Maryland bans fracking

Source: The Hill

Maryland’s ban on hydraulic fracturing became law after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) decided not to veto it. The bill bans fracking for two and a half years, and requires the state to write standards to regulate the practice for when the...

May 27, 2015 Technology for a Saudi fracking boom moves closer to reality

Source: CNBC

The key to an energy boom is simple: Build a technology to get at the oil and gas that geologists already know is trapped in various subterranean, or subsea, formations.

May 26, 2015 Four States Sue U.S. Interior Over 'Too Strict' Fracking Regulations

Source: Indian County Today

Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado and now Utah are suing the U.S. Department of the Interior over fracking regulations issued by the federal government in March

May 19, 2015 Texas governor signs law to prohibit local oil well fracking bans

Source: Reuters

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday signed a bill into law that prohibits cities and towns from banning an oil drilling practice known as hydraulic fracking, giving the state sole authority over oil and gas regulation.

May 11, 2015 Scientists probe the dynamics of Texas 'earthquake country' (+video)

Source: CS Monitor

ATLANTA — Yet another in a series of cluster earthquakes rattled the Dallas area on Thursday, the size of which only intensified a subterranean quest to find out how parts of Texas have become “earthquake country.”

May 6, 2015 Bill gutting fracking bans advances in Texas

Source: Reuters

A bill giving Texas the sole right to regulate the oil and gas industry and take away the power of municipalities to pass anti-fracking rules moved a step closer to becoming law on Monday after it passed the Senate.

May 5, 2015 Trace amount of fracking fluid found in water well, study finds

Source: Lehigh Valley Live

Toxic fluids used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing likely escaped an unlined borehole and migrated thousands of feet into a residential drinking-water supply in Pennsylvania, according to a study published Monday.

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @PSOEAlbacete: Nos adherimos al manifiesto contra el #Fracking de la Plataforma de la Cuenca del Segura @frackingno http://t.co/ysJO8EKR…
    06:39
  • @Aunty_Fracker But Swampy anti #fracking protestors who ruined #Balcombe work for @FarmersWeekly Many #Balcombe farmers approve #fracking
    06:37
  • RT @GreenpeaceUK: The costs of 'going all out for shale' that Cameron never mentioned, by @EnergyDesk. http://t.co/Z9hJtnoxqA #fracking htt…
    06:37
  • RT @Aunty_Fracker: Farmland could be turned into “a desert-like industrial wasteland” http://t.co/iMRldLbQSh (Not really. Agent Orange isn'…
    06:36
  • RT @GreenpeaceUK: A few things the government didn't want you to know about #fracking, revealed on @Energydesk: http://t.co/Z9hJtnoxqA htt…
    06:36
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