Fracking is the slang term for hydraulic fracturing. It is the process of breaking apart (fracturing) dense shale rock in order to release the hydrocarbons (like gas and oil). A gel cocktail comprised of water, sand and chemicals referred to as fracking fluid is injected under high pressure into the rock deep underground, creating new fractures that allow access to deposits previously out of reach.
Interestingly, while Big Oil and Gas like to tell the public and the media that fracking is a safe technology that has been employed for decades, they also tell investors that drilling operations are inherently risky and include leaks, spills, explosions, blowouts, environmental damage, personal injury and death.
Fracking has been used for decades, but the scope and scale of fracking today has no precedent and is causing great alarm by those who are paying attention. Here are eight reasons why fracking is not good for you, your family, community or state.
1. Fracking, even a single well, is very water intensive. A single well can require over 1 million gallons of water. This can deplete underground water tables and dry-up nearby creeks.
2. The waste water from fracking contains high levels of radioactive elements that wastewater treatment plants are not equipped to treat.
3. Dangerous fracking chemicals are kept a secret. Unfortunately, in many states, drilling companies do not have to disclose what chemicals they are using in their fracking fluid as this concoction is considered a “trade secret.” That was maybe OK when the target was a defined oil reservoir. The problem, however, is that fracking is now practiced closer to aquifers, and thus these chemicals have a higher potential to leach into public ground soils and drinking water. Independent chemists have identified 41 known chemicals in fracking fluid that are considered extremely toxic.
4. The Halliburton Loop Hole. Thanks to sweetheart deals made with then Vice-President Dick Cheney, Big Oil & Gas are exempt from the Safe Drinking Water and the Clean Air Act. Yes, really.
5. Tap water that has been contaminated by methane from the fracking process can be lit on fire. Check out the video on the next page showing one resident near a fracking site doing just that.
6. Fracking sites are multiplying like rabbits — although unlike rabbits there is nothing cute and cuddly about a fracking well. Fracking is currently in practice in 28 U.S. states.
7. Fracking can trigger earthquakes. One earthquake in Spain, allegedly triggered by fracking, killed nine people.
8. Fracking for natural gas results in substantial leakage of methane. Not only is methane explosive and creates air pollution, it is 1200 times worse than C02 as a greenhouse gas.
Thank you to Food and Water Watch for providing much of the above information.
Next page: Frightening video of tap water being lit on fire and additional resources for concerned citizens
Additional Resources for Learning and Getting Involved:
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (Theo Colborn):
DeSmogBlog: “Fracking the Future”
New York Times Drilling Down Series, Ian Urbina