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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

April 20, 2018 A New Low in the Media's War on Fracking

Source: Forbes

According to Rolling Stone, the report's central claim is that "residents living near an active [fracking] site breathe air laced with carcinogens," which leads to an "increased risk of asthma, a decrease in infant health and...

April 13, 2018 Fracking may have political support, but it still needs a ‘social licence

Source: The Conversation

Fracking looks set to arrive in Britain after all. US-Australian energy company Cuadrilla recently announced it may begin producing the UK’s first commercial shale gas sometime in 2019.

April 6, 2018 UK fracking company announces major milestone

Source: Hazard EX

On April 3, Cuadrilla Resources said it had completed drilling the UK’s first horizontal well at a site in Lancashire, as a prelude to starting hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations from the site this summer. The company...

March 15, 2018 Bottled Water, Brought to You by Fracking?

Source: Food and Water Watch

The new Food & Water Watch report Take Back the Tap: The Big Business Hustle of Bottled Water details the deceit and trickery of the bottled water industry. Here’s one more angle to consider: The bottled water business is closely...

March 9, 2018 A ‘Major Second Wave’ of U.S. Fracking Is About to Be Unleashed Upon the World

Source: Time

U.S. oil and natural gas is on the verge of transforming the world’s energy markets for a second time, further undercutting Saudi Arabia and Russia.

March 6, 2018 A year after fracking ban, Maryland Gov. Hogan's support for natural gas sparks new battle

Source: Baltimore Sun

Hogan, who signed last year’s law, wants to require a Canadian energy company to invest more than $100 million in Maryland, including money to establish a program to make natural gas the primary energy source for more homes in...

February 20, 2018 Fracking row: Treasury 'showing shambolic conflict of interest'

Source: The Guardian

Campaigners have accused the Treasury of allowing the appearance of a conflict of interest over its examination of an energy company at the forefront of fracking in the UK.

February 16, 2018 Lock The Gate apologises to Origin Energy and fracking inquiry for 'scandalous' allegations

Source: ABC (Australia)

Lock The Gate Alliance has apologised to Origin Energy and the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the NT over allegations it made that the company had been involved in a "cover-up" of information.

February 14, 2018 Does fracking adversely impact on drinking water?

Source: Digital Journal

New research suggests a negative impact of hydraulic fracturing, intended to extract gas and oil, upon streams, plus downstream recreation water and drinking water. The research has been led by the University of Central...

February 13, 2018 Crude Halts Decline as Demand Seen Burning Through Shale Output

Source: Bloomberg

Crude edged higher after the worst weekly decline in two years as OPEC shrugged off the threat that U.S. shale drillers will swamp the market with excess supplies.

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Latest Tweets on Fracking

 
 
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  • Wonderful article by @kirsty_howey "Cement: materialities and temporalities of fracking in northern Australia" — Sy… https://t.co/UewXDXdKTD
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  • So who are #ThirdEnergy? Ask #Barclays #fracking division? https://t.co/KSuhr0GNa6 https://t.co/nEcQNCq8re https://t.co/lqN9X32jLV
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  • #Fracking #Harrisburg #Williamsport #RealPa https://t.co/LKRlX7QXln
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    Beth Pikachu
  • RT @stopthefrack: I am feeling SO inexplicably sad. How warped are humans @fanniebay The Northern Territory is a land that I think of wit…
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    fishNchips
  • RT @stopthefrack: I am feeling SO inexplicably sad. How warped are humans @fanniebay The Northern Territory is a land that I think of wit…
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    evelyn araluen
 
 
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