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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 29, 2014 Texas: Can’t tie water contamination to drilling

Source: Journal News

HOUSTON — The amount of explosive gas tainting a North Texas neighborhood’s water supply has increased in recent years, but the state’s oil and gas regulator says it can’t link the methane to drilling activity nearby, according...

May 28, 2014 Shakeout Threatens Shale Patch as Frackers Go for Broke

Source: Bloomberg

The U.S. shale patch is facing a shakeout as drillers struggle to keep pace with the relentless spending needed to get oil and gas out of the ground.

May 27, 2014 The Mother of All Anti-Fracking Tools

Source: Ouyside Online

In Mora County, New Mexico, a patchwork of prairie, foothills, and high peaks on the east flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, unemployment stands at 16 percent, county workers operate out of leaky temporary buildings, and...

May 27, 2014 Euro Parliament panel exempts shale gas from beefed-up rules

United Press International - The shale gas and EIA moves "demonstrate, beyond doubt, that European citizens can expect no help, or protection against the dangers of fracking, from Brussels," Antoine Simon of îFriends of the...

May 25, 2014 U.K.’s South England Holds Billions of Barrels of Shale Oil

Source: Bloomberg

Shale rock underneath some of the wealthiest counties in southern England may contain billions of barrels of oil, a government report said. The Weald basin, covering counties south of London including Surrey, Sussex and Kent, may...

May 19, 2014 British fracking support falls below 50%, poll shows

Source: The Guardian

Public support for fracking for shale gas in the UK has fallen below 50% for the first time, new polling suggests. Just 49.7% of people now say they think the controversial process should be allowed in the UK, marking the third...

May 19, 2014 Read The Secret Trade Memo Calling For More Fracking and Offshore Drilling

Source: Huff Post

WASHINGTON -- The European Union is pressing the Obama administration to expand U.S. fracking, offshore oil drilling and natural gas exploration under the terms of a secret negotiation text obtained by The Huffington Post. The...

May 16, 2014 Fracking protesters demonstrate outside state Coastal Commission meeting in Inverness

Source: Marin News

Donning hazardous material suits and carrying signs, more than a dozen anti-fracking protesters turned up at the California Coastal Commission meeting in Inverness Thursday to ask the regulatory agency to outlaw the practice. The...

May 13, 2014 Groups seek more disclosure of risks associated with hydraulic fracturing

Star Telegram - The report was released by Boston Common Asset Management, Green Century Capital Management, îInvestor Environmental Health Networkî and As You Sow. Companies that disclose steps to reduce disruptions...

May 13, 2014 NJ Senate approves bill that would ban fracking waste


Two years after Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar measure, state lawmakers are advancing a bill that would ban the dumping of fracking waste in New Jersey. The state Senate voted 33-4 today to pass bipartisan legislation that...

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

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  • RT @eiNetMN: "Rail CEOs to Investors: 'Bomb Trains' Safe At Almost Any Speed" #bakken #fracking
    Angela Paints
  • RT @NEGreenCommons: Forced By FOI Petitions, Penn Reveals #Fracking Contaminated #DrinkingWater In 22 Counties via …
  • RT @GravityDriven1: "@cassandra17lina: F is for #fracking, the worst of the worst Of methods for quenching our #fossilfuel thirst http://t.…
  • RT @GravityDriven1: "@cassandra17lina: F is for #fracking, the worst of the worst Of methods for quenching our #fossilfuel thirst http://t.…
  • RT @s_rsantorini630: “@mitchmusic: #fracking well if Cheney and Halliburton say it's ok”
    Fran Howard
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