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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

September 20, 2013 Colorado flooding triggers oil spills, shutdowns

Source: Houston Chronicle

DENVER — Colorado's flooding shut down hundreds of natural gas and oil wells in the state's main petroleum-producing region and triggered at least two spills, temporarily suspending a multibillion-dollar drilling frenzy and...

September 20, 2013 Did Floods Cause a Fracking Disaster in Colorado?

Source: Daily Beast

Some activists say recent flooding has unleashed polluted water from fracking operations all over the state, which is possible. But damage from oil wells is a bigger threat, writes Josh Dzieza.

September 19, 2013 Fracking may not be as bad for the climate as we thought

Washington Post - By contrast, other parts of the production process not regulated by the EPA, such as valves and chemical pumps, were leaking more methane than previously thought. All in all, this seems like positive news for...

September 18, 2013 Fracking sparks food safety concern as expert warns of serious risk to livestock

Source: the Independent

Fracking for gas and oil in the British countryside poses such a significant risk to livestock that a moratorium should be imposed on the industry until its impact on food safety can be assessed, a leading researcher has warned.

September 17, 2013 Study: Natural gas industry can cut fracking emissions

Source: USA Today

How much damage does fracking do to the environment? Not quite as much as federal estimates suggest, if natural gas companies take steps to reduce methane emissions, researchers find.

September 13, 2013 Exxon Charged With Illegally Dumping Waste in Pennsylvania

Source: Bloomberg

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), the world’s largest energy company, was charged with illegally dumping more than 50,000 gallons (189,000 liters) of wastewater at a shale-gas drilling site in Pennsylvania.

September 12, 2013 Dominion Resources plan approved for exporting natural gas from terminal in Calvert County

Source: Washington Post

The Obama administration has approved a Dominion Resources proposal to export liquefied natural gas from Maryland’s Western Shore, a plan that would tap into the surge in domestic production of gas extracted from shale.

September 11, 2013 Secrets of fracking fluids pave way for cleaner recipe

Source: Nature.com

The myriad liquid concoctions used in hydraulic fracturing make for quite a recipe book. Since January 2011, FracFocus, an online chemical-disclosure registry, has assembled a list of the mixtures used at more than 52,000 oil and...

September 9, 2013 How I learned to stop worrying and love fracking

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Critics of hydraulic fracturing say economic and energy security shouldn't come at the expense of the environment. The controversial practice, dubbed fracking, has become the cause du jour in advocacy circles. A report from...

September 8, 2013 Understanding Fracking: Arguments for and Against Natural Gas Extraction

AccuWeather - Opponents of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or fracking, demonstrate on the campus of Binghamton University hours before President Barack Obama was scheduled to speak about affordable college education during...

Displaying results 341 to 350 out of 1192

Latest Tweets on Fracking

 
 
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  • @toogoolawah @AnnastaciaMP @AmyRemeikis Save the state Say no to #fracking http://t.co/GGkZs3BINQ
    10:06
    Broony
  • RT @natalieben: >10,000 signatures added to anti-#fracking official petition in 24 hours. Can we do it again today? I think we can! http://…
    10:05
    Jordan
  • Fife Council and Scottish Government clash over UCG plans for Firth of Forth http://t.co/mzMH2Wbhuq #fracking
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    Notes on Nationalism
  • RT @TXsharon: Recent #fracking news roundup #frackquakes, #publichealth #water pollution http://t.co/MQpmhBA0QZ
    10:04
    Sandra R Phillips
  • RT @RL_Miller: solid majority of Californians oppose #fracking for 1st time in survey, 56% oppose, 33% favor. @JerryBrownGov time to #unfra…
    10:03
    Carole Thorpe
 
 
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