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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
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Former Director, Communications and Public Affairs, and Vice President, Eastman Kodak Company

Latest on Truth About Fracking

July 20, 2018 A fracking ban is hypocritical

Source: Commonwealth Magazine

MEANINGLESS, hypocritical political grandstanding. Those are words no one should ever use lightly – but they are words that accurately describe a provision of Massachusetts energy legislation now pending on Beacon Hill that calls...

July 19, 2018 Texas set to pass Iraq, Iran as world's third-largest oil producer

Source: The Hill

Texas's oil industry is set to surpass Iraq and Iran to become the third-largest oil producing region in the world, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia.

July 18, 2018 Samuel Ribansky: Why Brexit also means fracking if Britain is to secure energy independence

Source: Yorkshire Post

The UK was the first EU member state to have a coal-free day when all of its electricity came from either nuclear, gas, or renewable sources. However, coal still competes with gas as a base-load capacity mechanism.

July 16, 2018 U.S. oil boom delivers surprise for traders - and it's costly

Source: Yahoo

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The world's biggest oil traders are counting hefty losses after a surprise doubling in the price discount of U.S. light crude to benchmark Brent (WTCLc1-LCOc1) in just a month, as surging U.S...

July 9, 2018 Oil is likely to jump another 10 percent this summer, energy expert Tom Kloza predicts

Source: CNBC

Crude oil in the low $70s a barrel could soon feel like a bargain. The Oil Price Information Service's Tom Kloza recently estimated that prices could surge another 10 percent this summer — a rally that could hit consumers at the...

June 26, 2018 Fracking would be ‘powerful addition’ to Scotland’s portfolio, industry leader says

Source: Energy Voice

Paul de Leeuw, director of Robert Gordon University’s Oil and Gas Institute, said the offshore sector had the skills required to make a success of fracking,

June 13, 2018 New study examines impacts of fracking on water supplies worldwide

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Using hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from shale is a common technique used worldwide. Because the technique requires large amounts of water, however, it raises the question of whether it could lead to water...

June 1, 2018 U.S. oil output jumps to record 10.47 million barrels per day in March: EIA

Source: Reuters

U.S. crude oil production jumped 215,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.47 million bpd in March, the highest on record, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a monthly report on Thursday.

May 29, 2018 The Great American Fracking Bubble

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n 2008, Aubrey McClendon was the highest paid Fortune 500 CEO in America, a title he earned taking home $112 million for running Chesapeake Energy. Later dubbed “The Shale King,” he was at the forefront of the oil and gas...

May 14, 2018 Fracking mogul Jim Ratcliffe becomes UK’s richest person

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Fracking and chemicals billionaire Jim Ratcliffe increased his wealth by more than £15bn last year to take the crown as Britain’s richest person, with a £21bn fortune.

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