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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

January 15, 2014 European Commission fails to introduce legally binding fracking regulations – report

Source: RT

The European Union’s attempts to set legally binding regulations for shale gas extraction have been defeated after the UK and a number of EU states argued that current EU regulations are sufficient to keep fracking safe.

January 14, 2014 Anti-fracking protests fail to halt interest in shale gas

Source: The Guardian

Hundreds of protesters were making their presence felt again at a fracking site in Barton Moss, Greater Manchester, on Sunday. Since November a hardy group of campaigners have been protesting at the site – where planning...

January 14, 2014 Natural Gas Futures Soar on Forecasts for Record Stockpile Drop

Source: Bloomberg

Natural gas futures surged the most in 16 months on speculation that government data will show a record decline in U.S. stockpiles of the heating fuel as cold weather boosts demand.

January 13, 2014 Fracking site families in line for cash boost: Homes near drilling could get payments as Cameron vows to go ‘all out for shale’ (UK)

Source: Daily Mail

Families living near gas fracking sites could get direct cash payments and councils could keep more of the tax collected Number 10 has said, as David Cameron vowed to go ‘all out for shale’. The pledge came as French energy firm...

January 13, 2014 Fracking for an energy renaissance that will not come

Source: Christian Science Monitor

The hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling used to extract oil from shale deposits is supposed to glut the world with oil and drive down the price. The record so far is not compelling, Cobb writes, and talk of an American...

January 13, 2014 Duke Fracking Tests Reveal Dangers Driller’s Data Missed

Source: Bloomberg

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared that a group of Texas homes near a gas-drilling operation didn’t have dangerous levels of methane in their water, it relied on tests conducted by the driller itself.

January 8, 2014 Fracking moratorium urged by California lawmakers

Source: Sacramento Bee

Reviving an issue that dominated the environmental agenda in 2013, California lawmakers are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to impose a moratorium on the controversial drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing.

December 30, 2013 Study: Few Americans understand fracking

Source: Star Tribune

Fracking is a buzz word, but few Americans know what it actually means. That is the conclusion of a recent survey published by researchers at Oregon State, George Mason and Yale universities.

December 27, 2013 Study: Fracking saves water

Source: Daily Caller

Hydraulic fracturing conserves water compared to other energy-generation methods, according to a recent study that undermines claims by fracking opponents. Bridget Scanlon and a team of researchers at the Bureau of Economic...

December 26, 2013 2013 In Review: Obama Talks Climate Change–But Pushes Fracking

Source: Mother Jones

This was the year when climate change came out of the closet. Barack Obama elevated climate change to one of his top presidential priorities. White House and other officials brought up the topic in public after spending the...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @BNK__Petroleum: Univ. de Duke encuentra contaminantes de #fracking en agua de Texas y contradice a la EPA. 2014 …
  • RT @Alexandra_von_D: Why #US #fracking companies are licking their lips over #Ukraine #naomiklein
  • RT @BNK__Petroleum: Univ. de Duke encuentra contaminantes de #fracking en agua de Texas y contradice a la EPA. 2014 …
  • @SarahJLonsdale Answer: shale gas #fracking wells.
  • Los ciudadanos vuelven a decir no al #fracking y no creen a la Junta de CyL. @correodeburgos @diariodeburgos
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