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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:


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

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.

May 5, 2015 New study links gas drilling to water contamination in NE Pa.

Source: NPR Pennsylvania

New research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows evidence of a connection between gas drilling and water contamination that occurred in Bradford County in 2010. The researchers used a new...

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...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @FrackFreeManc: Lancashire #fracking decision to be made by the Secretary of State. If that's democracy I'm a banana.…
  • RT @FrackFreeManc: Lancashire #fracking decision to be made by the Secretary of State. If that's democracy I'm a banana.…
  • RT @nspugh: '#Fracking decision in Lancs to be made by secretary of state' #DavidCameron that'll be popular! #localdemocracy?…
  • RT @EIDMarcellus: Reason 4: Cleanest Air in Years #Fracking
  • RT @ruthhayhurst: Roseacre Awareness Group reaction to announcement that Secretary of State will decide Cuadrilla's #fracking appeals https…
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