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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

August 8, 2013 Oakland County, nation does not need fracking to get by - GUEST OPINION

The Oakland Press - About three days is all we can go without îwaterî before we die. Here in Oakland County we are blessed with an abundance of this natural resource in the Great Lakes, our inland lakes and a...

August 7, 2013 How Big a Problem is Methane Leakage from Natural Gas Fracking'

IEEE Spectrum - The one thing that could slow the gas juggernaut is concern about methane leakage, which, because of CH 4 's high warming potential relative to CO 2, could cancel benefits believed to accrue from conversion of...

August 7, 2013 Exclusive: Chesapeake drops energy leases in fracking-shy New York

Source: Reuters

Chesapeake Energy has given up a two-year legal fight to retain thousands of acres of natural gas drilling leases in New York state, landowner and legal sources told Reuters.

August 7, 2013 Fears of quakes and flammable tap water hit Britain as fracking looms

Source: CNN

Balcombe, United Kingdom -- The fear of fracking has come to Britain, replete with worries about potential earthquakes and tap water tainted with natural gas that bursts into flames at the strike of a match.. Since a ban on the...

August 5, 2013 Gas Fracking: No Time for Nuance by Carl Safina

Source: Huff Post

My friend Andrew Revkin, whom I greatly respect, has lately been pointing out certain problems with critiques of gas fracking, and pointing out how it could be greatly improved. They want more gas until something better can come...

August 2, 2013 Fracking firm begins tests at Balcombe oil site as protests enter ninth day

Source: The Guardian

The energy firm Cuadrilla has started testing equipment ahead of exploratory oil drilling in West Sussex as anti-fracking protests at the site entered a ninth day. The project has been subject to days of delays because of...

August 1, 2013 Majority of Californians are against fracking, new PPIC poll finds

Source: Mercury News

People in other states may be chanting "drill, baby, drill" -- but not Californians. A new poll shows that a majority of Golden State residents oppose both new offshore oil drilling and expanding hydraulic fracturing, commonly...

August 1, 2013 China Fracking Quake-Prone Province Shows Zeal for Gas

Source: Bloomberg

China won’t let earthquakes hinder its quest for energy. Companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and China National Petroleum Corp. are starting to drill for gas and oil in shale rock in Sichuan, the nation’s most...

July 31, 2013 Fracking can take place in 'desolate' north-east England, Tory peer says

Source: The Guardian

Fracking should be carried out in the "desolate" north-east of England, a former Conservative energy adviser has said, prompting criticism and claims the remarks highlighted the party's "problem with the north". Lord Howell, who...

July 30, 2013 Proponents of shale gas must work hard to convince a sceptical public

Daily Telegraph - SIR â The battle of Balcombe is indeed of national importance (leading article, July 29). As CEO of Regester Larkin, a reputation management consultancy firm, I am aware that shale gas supporters must...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @LichtBlick_de: Kein #Fracking: Kabinett beschließt Fracking-Gesetz – vor erst kein Fracking, lediglich Probebohrungen erlaubt http://t.…
  • RT @ecofhp: #Fracking: finally some #research #green #pollution #sustainability
    Manuel Morillo
  • RT @Umwelthilfe: #fracking: Beschluss ist ein Rückschritt für die #Energiewende und ein Zugeständnis an die fossilen Energien…
  • Lynton Crosby’s links to fracking industry are explored #CrosbyTextor owned by #PhilipMorrison #fracking
  • RT @Umwelthilfe: #fracking: Beschluss ist ein Rückschritt für die #Energiewende und ein Zugeständnis an die fossilen Energien…
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