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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 28, 2013 Make sure fracking is done right - text/video

Source: CNN

American energy production is skyrocketing, and pundits are promising everything from millions of jobs to energy independence. All of this could be put in jeopardy, though, if we don't get serious about the accompanying risks and...

May 28, 2013 GE To Invest Billions Of Dollars In Fracking

Source: Huff Business

PITTSBURGH (AP) — One of America's corporate giants is investing billions of dollars in the new boom of oil and gas drilling, or fracking. General Electric Co. is opening a new laboratory in Oklahoma, buying up related companies,...

May 26, 2013 S&P Report: The U.S. Shale Boom's Impact On Various Industry Sectors

SYS-CON Media - NEW YORK, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The rapid increase in natural gas, natural gas liquids, and crude oil production from onshore domestic shale formations has been positive for revenue, costs, and credit...

May 26, 2013 Report calls for more research on gas drilling, greenhouse emissions

Associated Press - Many studies appear to be overly optimistic about the potential benefits of natural gas replacing coal, the group said in a report released last week. Uncertainty about the rate of methane leakage from natural...

May 23, 2013 Energy-Rich Colorado Becomes Setting for Fracking Fight

Source: Bloomberg

Stan Dempsey, an oil and gas lobbyist, raced from one committee hearing to another in Colorado’s statehouse this spring, defending the industry against an onslaught of bills. While only one of 10 measures passed, the flurry of...

May 22, 2013 Shareholders Push Fracking Companies to Manage and Measure Their Impacts: Reflects Rising Public Expectations for Quantitative Disclosure

Source: Green Century Capital Management

As public and scientific concerns around hydraulic fracturing continue to grow, shareholders at Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Pioneer Natural Resources will vote on proposals urging the companies to reduce the environmental impacts of...[more]

May 21, 2013 What Exporting U.S. Natural Gas Means for the Climate - The U.S. Department of Energy made a big announcement late last week, green lighting the countryâs second liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project. Many argue that natural gas exports will bring...

May 20, 2013 Energy Exports Are Good!

Source: Joe Nocera, NY Times

What first caught my eye was the op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal. Published in late February, it was written by Andrew N. Liveris, the chairman and chief executive of the Dow Chemical Company. Liveris, an Australian, has...

May 20, 2013 US eases natural gas glut with second export terminal (+video)

Source: Christian Science Monitor

The Energy Department authorizes a second US terminal to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), ending months of speculation. LNG exports boost the prospects for domestic natural gas drillers and should help key allies, but they're...

May 17, 2013 Australia: The Regulation Of Unconventional Petroleum Exploration And Production In Western Australia

Mondaq - With Western Australia having one of the largest technically recoverable shale gas reserves in ... burgeoning unconventional petroleum industry and addressing concerns that exist in relation to the environmental impacts...

Displaying results 341 to 350 out of 1101

Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @NWF: Good news! @NYGovCuomo passes ban on #fracking in New York State: via @nytimes
  • RT @NYAgainstFRACK: YES! @NYGovCuomo listens to science, negative health impacts and says NO to #fracking! NY rules against hydrofracking h…
  • RT @NoFrackingPas: El Gobierno de España rechaza que las Comunidades Autónomas puedan aprobar #moratorias sobre el #fracking…
    julen gutierrez
  • RT @mashable: New York to ban #fracking, a controversial gas-drilling technique
  • RT @AustralisTerry: Questions over AGLs drilling waste #ProtectGloucester @MikeBairdMP no #fracking for CSG via @new…
    Andrew laird
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