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Facts About Fracking {UNTIL/IF EVER -- FRACKING IS SAFE --POST THE TRUTH!}


Environment  (tags: animals, climate-change, CO2emissions, conservation, ecosystems, energy, environment, forests, destruction, globalwarming, greenhousegases, habitat, habitatdestruction, healthconditions, nature, oceans, pollution, protection, research, science, Sustainabi )

Ruth
- 518 days ago - facebook.com
PLEASE POST THE --not money-based truth ABOUT FRACKING ON THIS FACEBOOK PAGE -- AS MANY PEOPLE ALREADY HAVE BEEN.Please post a link from a reliable source of documented information..show that fracking is not 100 percent safe for people, earth, air, water.



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Comments

Lydia w. (172)
Friday March 29, 2013, 9:12 pm
Thank you Ruth , Always very informative .
I don't do FB , but will forward on .
 

Kit B. (276)
Friday March 29, 2013, 9:20 pm

Fracking can not be safe, to drill that deeply it is a must to break apart massive layers of solid rock, and to do so at angles so the drill can go deep and slant. That will simply create, over time, new earthquakes zone.
 

lee e. (114)
Friday March 29, 2013, 10:36 pm
Thanks Ruth --- not that I think that any of the people either care or think about what is our final destruction --but I appreciate the fact that both of us are trying to preserve the planet!
 

Tamara Noforwardsplz (185)
Friday March 29, 2013, 10:43 pm
Noted, thank you Ruth.
 

Ruth R. (215)
Friday March 29, 2013, 10:44 pm
Thanks for comments, notes.
 

Alice C. (1797)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 1:05 am
No more fracking ~ No more fracking ~ No more fracking ~ We all need clean water. My home has crack from the earthquake here in New Jersey.
 

Carol H. (229)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 3:43 am
ban fracking period!!
 

Ruth R. (215)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 4:11 am
Please post a link from a reliable source of documented information..show that fracking is not 100 percent safe for people, earth, air, water.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR OOMMNET -- HERE.

WHAT I AM REQUESTING IS -- Please post a link from a reliable source of documented information..show that fracking is not 100 percent safe for people, earth, air, water.
 

Ruth R. (215)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 4:23 am
PLEASE -- ASK THAT YOU POST THE FACTS ABOUT FRACKING ON THIS LINK -- POLITELY AND ---SO THAT PEOPLE WILL KNOW THE TRUTH. I DO NOT NEED EMOTIONAL STATEMENTS ON THIS ONE -- I NEED THE POSTED FACTS -- ON THE LINK.
YOU CAN USE LINKS TO NEWS ARTICLES.
I HAVE DONE SOME OF THESE LINKS.
YOU CAN USE LINKS TO HEALTH ARTICLES.
YOU CAN USE LINKS TO SCIENCE AND RESEARCH ARTICLES.

YOU CAN POST THEM ON THE FACEBOOK LINK
YOU CAN POST THEM ON CARE2.
YOU CAN SHARE THEM HERE TOO.
THIS WAY WE GET THE TRUTH POSTED.
PLEASE.
 

Ruth R. (215)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 4:25 am
TYPO CORRECTION FROM PREVIOUS COMMENT.
ON THE FACE BOOK PAGE -- Please post a link from a reliable source of documented information..show that fracking is NOT100 percent safe for people, earth, air, water.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTS -- HERE.

WHAT I AM REQUESTING IS -- Please post a link from a reliable source of documented information..show that fracking is NOT 100 percent safe for people, earth, air, water -- ON THE FACEBOOK PAGE -- ON THE LINK -- AS APPLIES. THANK YOU!
 

John S. (301)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 5:00 am
Im not on Facebook, will foward it.
 

Giana Peranio-Paz (379)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 5:25 am
Thanks Ruth. I don't think they know what fracking is in Israel. I didn't, until I came to care2!
 

Alice C. (1797)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:30 am
Hydraulic Fracturing: Unsafe, Unregulated

Some environmentalists, desperate to address greenhouse gas emissions from coal and oil, have wrongly identified natural gas as the primary "cleaner" alternative .While it is true that burning natural gas emits half the emissions of coal, natural gas extraction around the country creates dangerous risks to drinking and freshwater resources, and local air quality. Hydraulic fracturing, also called “fracking,” is a federally unregulated extraction process used in many natural gas drilling sites. The process can contaminate drinking water supplies with cancer-causing chemicals and significantly deplete freshwater aquifers. Natural gas extraction poses a grave threat to families, communities and ecosystems.

While for decades fracking was mainly conducted by smaller natural gas companies, the discovery of large gas reserves under shale formations in new areas of the country (such as New York and Pennsylvania) has resulted in the larger oil majors - ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and BP - becoming the largest frackers in the country. And now the Obama Administration's State Department is promoting America's fracking technologies to export fracking overseas - putting the administration in a position of a cheerleader for the industry. Cleaner, cheaper and quicker solutions to meet our energy demands are available. Renewable energy coupled with energy efficiency should diminish our dependence on dirty and dangerous fuels.

What is Fracking?

Learn more about fracking and its risks, here.

Read Public Citizen's recommendations on fracking, here.


View Public Citizen's comment to the Natural Gas Subcommittee, regarding its draft report on fracking, here.

Read letter to President Obama, regarding banning fracking, here.

Take Action on Fracking:
Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Our Drinking Water

Tell Governor Cuomo: Don't Lift Fracking Ban

Protect the Delaware River from Fracking

Strengthen Recommendations on Fracking

Tell DOE: End Regulatory Loopholes on Fracking
 

Alice C. (1797)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:34 am
Just How Dangerous is Fracking? We May Be About to Find Out
The EPA has proposed examining every aspect of hydraulic fracturing, from water withdrawals to waste disposal, according to a draft plan the agency.
February 11, 2011 |




The EPA has proposed examining every aspect of hydraulic fracturing, from water withdrawals to waste disposal, according to a draft plan the agency released Tuesday. If the study goes forward as planned, it would be the most comprehensive investigation of whether the drilling technique risks polluting drinking water near oil and gas wells across the nation.

The agency wants to look at the potential impacts on drinking water of each stage involved in hydraulic fracturing, where drillers mix water with chemicals and sand and inject the fluid into wells to release oil or natural gas. In addition to examining the actual injection, the study would look at withdrawals, the mixing of the chemicals, and wastewater management and disposal. The agency, under a mandate from Congress, will only look at the impact of these practices on drinking water.

The agency’s scientific advisory board[1] will review the draft plan on March 7-8 and will allow for public comments then. The EPA will consider any recommendations from the board and then begin the study promptly, it said in a news release[2] . A preliminary report should be ready by the end of next year, the release said, with a full report expected in 2014.

A statement from the oil and gas industry group Energy in Depth gave a lukewarm assessment of the draft.

“Our guys are and will continue to be supportive of a study approach that’s based on the science, true to its original intent and scope,” the statement read. “But at first blush, this document doesn’t appear to definitively say whether it’s an approach EPA will ultimately take.”

The study, announced in March[3] , comes amid rising public concern about the safety of fracking, as ProPublica has been reporting[4] for years. While it remains unclear whether the actual fracturing process has contaminated drinking water, there have been more than 1,000 reports[5] around the country of contamination related to drilling, as we reported in 2008. In September 2010, the EPA warned residents of a Wyoming town[6] not to drink their well water and to use fans while showering to avoid the risk of explosion. Investigators found methane and other chemicals associated with drilling in the water, but they had not determined the cause of the contamination.

Drillers have been fracking wells for decades, but with the rise of horizontal drilling into unconventional formations like shale, they are injecting far more water and chemicals underground than ever before. The EPA proposal notes that 603 rigs were drilling horizontal wells in June 2010, more than twice as many as were operating a year earlier. Horizontal wells can require millions of gallons of water per well, a much greater volume than in conventional wells.

One point of contention is the breadth of the study. Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, said he understands the need to address any stage of the fracking that might affect drinking water, but he’s skeptical that water withdrawals meet the criteria.

“The only way you can argue that issues related to water demand are relevant to that question is if you believe the fracturing process requires such a high volume of water that its very execution threatens the general availability of the potable sources,” he wrote in an e-mail.

The EPA proposal estimates that fracking uses 70 to 140 billion gallons of water annually, or about the same amount used by one or two cities of 2.5 million people. In the Barnett Shale, in Texas, the agency estimates fracking for gas drilling consumes nearly 2 percent of all the water used in the area.
 

Alice C. (1797)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:34 am
change.org Start a petition Browse

Alice Diane Celebre
Petition Closed
with 1,035 supporters
1,035 signatures
Supporters are signing:

Lands’ End, American Girl Doll, and Restoration Hardware: Make fewer, greener, and smaller catalogs!

Salt Lake County Government: Save Steep Mountain
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Petitioned The Governor of MD
Save Maryland from Unsafe Gas Fracking


Petition by
Keith Harrington
Washington, DC


In Western Maryland, over a quarter of land in Garrett County has been leased to polluters using a new technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", which been blamed in other states for polluting streams and tainting wells, even resulting in flammable tap water.

It is vital that we stop these companies from pursuing reckless, environmentally and socially destructive gas drilling in Maryland: Chief Oil & Gas has already been charged with 198 environmental and safety violations at 83 wells in Pennsylvania. Another company leasing land in Maryland, Samson, has been cited for 12 offenses on just two wells. As these companies inch closer to having their permits approved, Maryland remains unprepared to handle the natural gas industry boom that will surely come to the state.

In the 2011 Maryland General Assembly, a bill entitled Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011 was introduced for the purpose of prohibiting the Department of the Environment from issuing well drilling permits for certain drilling activities involving the hydraulic fracturing of natural gas-bearing shale formations until a two year safety study on Fracking is carried out and certain conditions/criteria are met by the gas companies.

Unfortunately while the bill sailed through the House of Delegates it died in the Senate. Nevertheless the O'Malley administration is likely to take action to ensure that the goals of the legislation - to conduct thorough 2 year saftey studies - are met before any drilling permits could be issued. Please take a moment to sign the petition to Governor O'Malley and the Maryland Department of the Environment.

To:
The Governor of MD
Robert Summers, Office of the Secretary, Acting Secretary of the Environment, Maryland Department of the Environment
As Maryland moves closer to issuing permits for natural gas drilling in the western part of the state, I encourage you to protect the residents and environment of the area by acting in line with the goals outlined in the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011.

Already communities in states such as Pennsylvania have suffered the consequences of reckless drilling, from contaminated ground water...
Read More
 

Daniel Partlow (189)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 7:20 am
Ban all fracking everywhere!! There are better ways to get energy!
 

Dawn Mason (107)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 8:38 am
Noted, Thank you!
 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 9:18 am

Should anyone want to fully understand the massive destructive power of fracking, watch the documentary: GASLAND. That should be a wake up call.
 

lee e. (114)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 11:27 am
http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/big-frack-attack-is-hydraulic-fracturing-safe
This is a brief overview.
 

Tania Koshman (7)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 12:54 pm
thank you
 

Carol H. (229)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 5:19 pm
noted
 

Melania Padilla (178)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 8:16 pm
Noted
 

Laurel Rohrer (0)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 3:25 am
Very informative.
 

Care member (1)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 4:50 am
noted
 

John Gregoire (255)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 5:06 am
Ruth, I posted this link on our anti-fracking listserv and it will spead to several others in NY.

Kit, fracking is not slant drilling. The shaft goes vertical to the shale layer they are expoliting and then goes horizontally for a mile or more. Little holes are blown in that extension and then chemicals and our sacred water are forced in under pressure to fracture the shale strata. God only knows how far reaching that effect is. For the exploiter's purpose it releases trapped gas, oil or water -whatever they are going after - but usually gas. The fluids are then slightly radioactive, dirty and some can be reused but much has to be disposed of in other deep wells (injection). That brings on the threat of seismic problems as we saw recently in OK.
 

Sonya Armenia Redfield (91)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 5:34 am
noted
 

John Gregoire (255)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 5:47 am
Folks,
In reading the posts on this FB page I see that the fracking supporters have taken it over with aeveral reacent pro fracking stretches of the truth -beware.
 

Tom Tree (255)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 6:58 am
Noted & Shared !
Thank You for bringing to OUR attention !
 

Lynn C. (94)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 8:02 am
ty
 

Ro H. (0)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 10:24 am
ty
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:36 pm
"Corporate responsibility will happen when corporations are afraid of the consequences of irresponsible action.

We need to make that happen!" BUT...until we have campaign finance reform, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!

Especially for the big oil companies, The NRA, the American war machine companies, Wall Street, and many companies in the health industry.

We continue to see legislation that makes no "common-sense" for the American people, our economy, our environment, our safety, our future, etc... BUT not only does this legislation get drawn up by the hired lackeys for these companies, BUT IT GETS PASSED (even in a Democratic controlled senate).

Democrats (I believe) are less likely to KILL the golden goose than Republicans, but they are still responsible for giving these companies more power, more money, more permission to destroy our Earth,and more permission to poison ALL it's inhabitants.

This is a difficult problem to solve, BUT WE HAVE TO!

It really is about our survival, and not just about perpetuating the American way of life...
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:44 pm
Fracking: The Dangers
Fracking uses a toxic chemical cocktail known as fracking fluid.
Companies using fracking fluid have resisted disclosing the contents of fracking fluid, claiming the information is proprietary. However, samples from well sites indicate that the fluid contains: formaldehyde, acetic acids, citric acids, and boric acids, among hundreds of other contaminants.
It has recently come to light that, despite the illegality of the action, companies have been caught using diesel fuel in the fracking fluid.
Fracking removes millions of gallons of precious freshwater from the water cycle.
Each well uses between two and five million gallons of locally-sourced freshwater which will be permanently contaminated by ground contaminants and toxic chemicals contained in the fracking fluid.
About half of this water returns to the surface, where it is stored in steel containers until it can be injected deep underground in oil and gas waste wells.
No one is entirely sure what happens to the other half of the water used in the process. Our best guess is that the water remains underground, though there are indications that at least some of this toxic cocktail makes its way back into the water supply.
Fracking causes a range of environmental problems.
At least eight other states have reported surface, ground, and drinking water contamination due to fracking.
In Pennsylvania, over 1,400 environmental violations have been attributed to deep gas wells utilizing fracking practices.
Pollution from truck traffic, chemical contamination around storage tanks, and habitat fragmentation and damage from drilling to environmentally sensitive areas have are all related to fracking.
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:45 pm
Fracking: Laws and Loopholes
Fracking is exempt from key federal environmental regulations.
The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 contained a provision that has come to be known as the "Halliburton Loophole," an exemption for gas drilling and extraction from requirements in the underground injection control (UIC) program of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Other exemptions are also present in the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Some natural gas companies are not acting in good faith.
A recent Congressional investigation has found that 32 million gallons of diesel fuel have been illegally injected into the ground as a fracking chemical in 19 different states from 2005 to 2009. Diesel fuel is believed to be particularly damaging to water supplies, and because of this, remains the only fracking chemical still regulated under the UIC program of the SDWA.
Despite their claims that the chemicals used in the fracking process is safe, some drilling companies have consistently refused to provide a comprehensive list of the chemical additives used in fracking fluid.
Fracking is exempt from state water use regulations.
Michigan recently joined other Great Lakes states in passing the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement limiting large water withdrawals. Despite the fact that each fracking well can use up to five million gallons of locally-sourced water, the practice is exempt from regulation under the legislation implementing the Compact.
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:47 pm
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique used by the oil and gas industry to extract natural gas from rock thousands of feet underground. The fracking process includes pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals (including carcinogens) underground.

Evidence suggests that this risky process affects the water we drink, air we breathe, food we eat and climate we rely on for comfort. And like all oil and gas efforts, it endangers the wild places we love dearly. Here's the ugly evidence:

1. Fracking disrupts and threatens wild lands

Fracking negatively impacts wild lands treasured by all Americans. Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Rocky Mountain West. Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico contain some of the most spectacular American landscapes but are also coveted for their natural gas resources. This spring, the BLM did announce a new policy for chemical disclosure on leased lands. The Wilderness Society strongly supports setting more stringent standards because these proposed rules don’t require public disclosure about fracking chemicals until after the drilling has been completed.

2. Fracking contaminates drinking water

Last fall, the EPA released a report showing that fracking had contaminated groundwater in Wyoming, sparking a deluge of speculation about water pollution as a consequence of natural gas extraction. The evidence was used to back a claim that Pennsylvania water wells were polluted with methane. The New York Times' own investigation in the state showed levels of radiation well beyond federal drinking-water standards. In places like Texas, it's harder to get evidence, which some suspect is because of conflicts of interest.

There are 29 states with fracking in some stage of development or activity. Here is a map showing the location of U.S. shale gas plays, or shale formations in which natural gas is trapped (data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) courtesy of data.fractracker.org):





3. Fracking pollutes the air with scary pollutants

Since Garfield County, Colorado has experienced fracking development, residents who live within a half mile of the natural gas wells have been exposed to air pollutants, like the carcinogen benzene and toxic hydrocarbons known to cause respiratory and neurological problems, according to a three-year study from the Colorado School of Public Health. Colorado allows companies to drill for natural gas within 150 feet of homes, so nearby residents could be facing acute and chronic health problems like leukemia in the long-term.

4. Global warming gone overboard

In some ways, the most significant air pollutant is methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 20 to 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than does carbon dioxide. While some claim that the cost is worth the benefits if it means we can transition away from fossil fuels, it has been shown that the “footprint” of shale gas is actually 20 percent higher than coal.

5. Even if you don't drink the water, animals will

Of course, water pollution not only affects human populations, it affects other wildlife as well. This should concern anyone who eats meat, whether they hunt it or purchase it indirectly from a farm, which may incidentally be near a fracking well. In addition to degradation of habitat and interference with migration and reproduction, farmers have reported illness and death among domestic animals exposed to fracking wastewater.

6. Fracking also causes earthquakes?

Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping massive amounts of water into the earth's crust to break apart rock, so it should be no surprise that small earthquakes that have occurred in Ohio and Arkansas have been linked to nearby wastewater wells. The wastewater wells take in the water used to fracture the rock, and because the water is thousands of feet underground, it is under very high pressure. Since thousands of these new wells are being developed in populated areas, even small earthquakes are alarming for most of these areas haven't been seismically active in the past.

7. Despite recorded health risks, the facts are hard to find.

Fracking takes advantage of loopholes in federal laws designed to protect drinking water, so the chemicals used in drilling are not required by federal law to be publicly disclosed. Disclosure requirements for fracking chemicals differ widely from state to state, but the majority of states with fracking have no disclosure rules at all (only 14 out of the 29 have any). The rules that do exist are inadequate, failing to require disclosure of many important aspects, such as:

pre-fracking disclosure of all the chemicals that may be used (this makes it impossible to trace and prove the source of water contamination if it arises)
disclosure of the concentration of all chemicals
full disclosure to medical professionals in the event of an accident because of “trade secret” exemptions
Even for those states with laws, enforcement isn't strict.

See also:

Hydraulic fracturing perils: Does your state protect its citizens from fracking?
Dangerous pitfalls of oil production from natural gas: 5 reasons the boom is doomed to bust
Promised Land starring Matt Damon highlights dangers of fracking
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:49 pm
hat Is Fracking and Why Should It Be Banned?

Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing. It’s an extremely water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid – typically a mix of water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer – are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. This fracking releases extra oil and/or gas from the rock, so it can flow into the well.

But the process of fracking introduces additional industrial activity into communities beyond the well. Clearing land to build new access roads and new well sites, drilling and encasing the well, fracking the well and generating the waste, trucking in heavy equipment and materials and trucking out the vast amounts of toxic waste — all of these steps contribute to air and water pollution risks and devaluation of land that is turning our communities into sacrifice zones. Fracking threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities we love and the climate on which we all depend. That’s why over 250 communities in the U.S. have passed resolutions to stop fracking, and why Vermont, France and Bulgaria have stopped it.

Why a Ban? Can’t Better Regulations Make Fracking Safer?

BAN FRACKING IN YOUR AREA
Californians: Ban fracking in your state
New Yorkers: Speak out against fracking
Marylanders: Stop fracking in MD
Get the full list of local actions
Organize or find an event near you
FEATURED PUBLICATIONS


U.S. Energy Insecurity: Why Fracking for Oil andNatural Gas Is a False Solution





No. Fracking is inherently unsafe and we cannot rely on regulation to protect communities’ water, air and public health. The industry enjoys exemptions from key federal legislation protecting our air and water, thanks to aggressive lobbying and cozy relationships with our federal decisionmakers (the exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act is often referred to as the Cheney or Halliburton Loophole, because it was negotiated by then-Vice President Dick Cheney with Congress in 2005.) Plus, the industry is aggressively clamping down on local and state efforts to regulate fracking by buying influence and even bringing lawsuits to stop them from being implemented. That’s why fracking can’t be made safer through government oversight or regulations. An all out ban on fracking is the only way to protect our communities

Learn More:

Read the Report: U.S. Energy Insecurity: Why Fracking for Oil andNatural Gas Is a False Solution
Read the Report: Exposing the Oil and Gas Industry’s False Jobs Promise for Shale Gas Development
How do climate change, fracking and a global water crisis go hand-in-hand?
Watch our video about the dangers of fracking
Learn how fracking affects our nation’s food system
Why is fracking contributing to the global water crisis?
How is the industry lying about the economic benefits of fracking?


What You Can Do

Sign the petition to ban fracking!

(cut and paste the link to sign the petition)...

https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=241
Check out our fracking action center to find other ways you can help stop fracking
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:51 pm
U.S. Energy Insecurity: Why Fracking for Oil and Natural Gas Is a False Solution



Read the Full Report

Promoters of modern drilling and fracking celebrate the industry’s newfound ability to extract oil and natural gas from shale and other tight rock formations, calling it an energy “revolution,” a “paradigm-shifter,” a “rebirth” and a “game changer.” One recent report claims that North America might soon become “the new Middle East,” a net exporter of oil and natural gas. In April 2012, ConocoPhillips’s CEO at the time called shale gas a “blessing.”

But for whom is it really a blessing? Loose talk about domestic oil and natural gas abundance in order to justify and promote widespread drilling and fracking gives Americans a false sense of energy security. Hinging U.S. energy policy on fracking, and thus betting America’s future on the supposed abundance of oil and natural gas, would simply perpetuate America’s destructive dependence on the oil and gas industry. The only security that would be enjoyed is the security of the industry’s profits.

In this report, Food & Water Watch exposes the misconceptions, falsehoods and misleading statements behind the claims that modern drilling and fracking for oil and natural gas can deliver U.S. energy security.

Briefly, Food & Water Watch finds that:

The popular claim that the United States has 100 years worth of natural gas presumes not only that no place would be off-limits to drilling and fracking, but also that highly uncertain estimates of domestic natural gas resources are accurate;
Even assuming that the industry’s dreams of unrestricted drilling and fracking for natural gas come true and that resource estimates prove accurate, plans to increase the rate of consumption of U.S. natural gas easily cut the claim to 50 years, well within the lifetime of college students today;
Among these plans are 19 proposals, as of October 26, 2012, to sell U.S. natural gas on foreign markets to maximize oil and gas profits. Combined, these proposals alone mean that annual natural gas exports could reach the equivalent of over 40 percent of total U.S. consumption of natural gas in 2011; and
Even if the highly uncertain estimates of “tight oil” reserves prove accurate, and even if the oil and gas industry wins unrestricted access to drill and frack for oil, the estimated reserves would amount to a supply of less than seven years.
The United States can transition off of fossil fuels, but it will require remaking the U.S. energy system around proven clean energy solutions: conservation, efficiency and renewables. Such a remaking would underpin broadbased and sustained economic growth, circumvent the environmental and public health costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels and usher in an era of true U.S. energy security, independence and resilience.

The threat is that the fossil fuel industry — empowered by its deep pockets, armed with increasingly intensive extraction methods and bolstered by entrenched infrastructure and demand for its product — will succeed in delaying the necessary transformation for decades, just to protect its bottom line. Now is the time for the United States to declare independence from the oil and gas industry.
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:55 pm
The Facts Behind the Frack
Scientists weigh in on the hydraulic fracturing debate

By Rachel Ehrenberg
Web edition: August 24, 2012
Print edition: September 8, 2012; Vol.182 #5 (p. 20)
A+ A- Text Size

ENLARGE
Residents fear that hydraulic fracturing operations lead to home explosions, pollution and earthquakes. Science can speak to some of these concerns.
© Red Circle Images RM/www.fotosearch.com Stock Photography
To call it a fractious debate is an understatement.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, wrenches open rock deep beneath the Earth's surface, freeing the natural gas that's trapped inside. Proponents argue that fracking-related gas recovery is a game changer, a bridge to the renewable energy landscape of the future. The gas, primarily methane, is cheap and relatively clean. Because America is brimful of the stuff, harvesting the fuel via fracking could provide the country jobs and reduce its dependence on foreign sources of energy.

But along with these promises have come alarming local incidents and national reports of blowouts, contamination and earthquakes. Fracking opponents contend that the process poisons air and drinking water and may make people sick. What's more, they argue, fracking leaks methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can blow up homes, worries highlighted in the controversial 2010 documentary Gasland.

Fears that fracking companies are operating in a Wild West environment with little regulation have prompted political action. In June, the group Don't Frack Ohio led thousands of protesters on a march to the statehouse, where they declared their commitment to halting hydraulic fracturing in the state. Legislation banning the process has been considered but is now on hold in California. New York — which sits atop a giant natural gas reserve — has a statewide fracking moratorium; pending policies would allow the process only where local officials support it.

Despite all this activity, not much of the fracking debate has brought scientific evidence into the fold. Yet scientists have been studying the risks posed by fracking operations. Research suggests methane leaks do happen. The millions of gallons of chemical-laden water used to fracture shale deep in the ground has spoiled land and waterways. There's also evidence linking natural gas recovery to earthquakes, but this problem seems to stem primarily from wastewater disposal rather than the fracturing process itself.

While the dangers are real, most problems linked to fracking so far are not specific to the technology but come with many large-scale energy operations employing poor practices with little oversight, scientists contend. Whether the energy payoff can come with an acceptable level of risk remains an open question.

"People want it to be simple on both sides of the ledger, and it's not simple," says environmental scientist Robert Jackson of Duke University. "Our goal is to highlight the problems, so we can understand the problems and do what we can to help."

What is hydraulic fracturing?

Hydraulic fracturing has been cranking up output from gas and other wells for more than 50 years. But not until fracking joined up with another existing technology, horizontal drilling, was the approach used to unlock vast stores of previously inaccessible natural gas. The real fracking boom has kicked off in just the last decade.

Conventionally drilled wells tap easy-to-get-at pockets of natural gas. Such gas heats homes and offices, fuels vehicles and generates electricity. But as easily accessible reserves have been used up, countries seeking a steady supply of domestic energy have turned to natural gas buried in difficult-to-reach places, such as deep layers of shale.

Gas doesn't flow easily through shale or other impermeable rock. Drilling a conventional well into such formations would gather gas only from a small area right around the well. And, for shale in particular, many formations in the United States extend hundreds of kilometers across but are less than 100 meters thick, hardly worth sending a vertical well into.

Combining hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling offers a way to wrest gas from these untapped reserves. By drilling sideways into a rock formation and then sending cracks sprawling though the rock, methane can burble into a well from a much larger area.

The drill-frack punch goes something like this: After constructing a drill pad, engineers drill a well straight down, typically for thousands of meters, toward the target bed of rock. Operators then begin "kicking off," turning the drill so it bores into the formation horizontally, forming an L-shape.


ENLARGE
UNTAPPED RESOURCE
View larger image | With the help of hydraulic fracturing, drillers can access natural gas that was previously locked in shale beds. A recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration analyzed major shale basins (shown) in 32 countries around the world.
U.S. Energy Information Administration
After small explosive charges perforate the far end of the well's horizontal portion, called the toe, hydraulic fracturing can begin. Millions of gallons of fracking fluid — a mixture of water, sand and chemicals — are pumped into the well at pressures high enough to fracture the shale. Methane within the shale diffuses into these fissures and flows up the well. Along with the gas comes flowback water, which contains fracking fluid and additional water found naturally in the rock.

After the well's toe is fracked, engineers repeat the procedure, moving back along the horizontal portion of the well until its heel is reached. Compared with conventional wells, which may steadily pump out fuel for more than a decade, shale gas extraction is like blasting open a faucet. There's a huge surge in gas, but it may become merely a dribble after a few years. At the end of its life, the well gets plugged.

Today hydraulic fracturing is used in about nine out of 10 onshore oil and gas wells in the United States, with an estimated 11,400 new wells fractured each year. In 2010, about 23 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States came from shale beds.

While the immediate output is gas, the uptick in this type of extraction has also fueled fears over fracking's potential dangers — such as drinking water contamination.

Does methane leak into water?

One of the most explosive issues, literally, is whether fracking introduces methane into drinking water wells at levels that can make tap water flammable or can build up in confined spaces and cause home explosions.

Studies are few, but a recent analysis suggests a link. Scientists who sampled groundwater from 60 private water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York found that average methane concentrations in wells near active fracturing operations were 17 times as high as in wells in inactive areas. Methane naturally exists in groundwater — in fact, the study found methane in 51 of the 60 water wells — but the higher levels near extracting sites raised eyebrows.

To get at where the methane was coming from, the researchers looked at the gas's carbon, which has different forms depending on where it has been. The carbon's isotopic signature, and the ratio of methane to other hydrocarbons, suggested that methane in water wells near drilling sites did not originate in surface waters but came from deeper down.

But how far down and how the methane traveled aren't clear, says Duke's Jackson, a coauthor of the study, published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He proposes four possibilities. The first, most contentious — and, says Jackson, the least likely — is that the extraction process opens up fissures that allow methane and other chemicals to migrate to the surface. A second possibility is that the steel tubing lining the gas well, the well casing, weakens in some way. Both scenarios would also allow briny water from the shale and fracking fluid to migrate upward. The well water analysis found no evidence of either.

Newly fracked gas wells could also be intersecting with old, abandoned gas or oil wells, allowing methane from those sites to migrate. "We've punched holes in the ground in Pennsylvania for 150 years," Jackson says. Many old wells have not been shut down properly, he says. "You find ones that people plugged with a tree stump." In some places in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and elsewhere (especially those with existing coal beds), methane turned up in well water long before hydraulic fracturing became widespread.

A fourth possibility, which Jackson thinks is most probable, is that the cement between the well casing and the surrounding rock is not forming a proper seal. Cracking or too little cement could create a passageway allowing methane from an intermediate layer of rock to drift into water sources near the surface. Such cases have been documented. In 2007, for example, the faulty cement seal of a fracked well in Bainbridge, Ohio, allowed gas from a shale layer above the target layer to travel into an underground drinking water source. The methane built up enough to cause an explosion in a homeowner's basement.

Other types of gas and oil wells have similar problems, Jackson says, but fracking's high pressures and the shaking that results may make cement cracks more likely. "Maybe the process itself makes it harder to get good seals," he says. "We need better information."

Accompanying these concerns are worries that methane leaking into the air will have consequences for the climate and human health. Burning methane creates fewer greenhouse gas emissions and smog ingredients than other fossil fuels, so natural gas is considered relatively clean. But evidence suggests that methane frequently escapes into the air during drilling and shipping, where it acts as a greenhouse gas and traps heat. Such leaking undermines the gas's "clean" status.


ENLARGE
SHALE’S BIG ROLE
View larger image | The United States will produce more natural gas in the future, and much of it from shale, a recent report suggests. By 2035, total U.S. gas production is expected to increase to 27.9 trillion cubic feet, up from 21.6 trillion cubic feet in 2010.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2012
Methane leaking into the air can also cause ozone to build up locally, leading to worries about headaches, inflammation and other ills among people who live nearby. Scientists in Pennsylvania have proposed a long-term study examining possible links between air pollution from the shale gas boom and human health. A more immediate concern for human health, Jackson and others argue, is exposure to fracking wastewater.

Is fracking fluid hazardous?

A typical fracked well uses between 2 million and 8 million gallons of water. At the high end, that's enough to fill 12 Olympic swimming pools. Companies have their own specific mixes, but generally water makes up about 90 percent of the fracking fluid. About 9 percent is "proppants," stuff such as sand or glass beads that prop open the fissures. The other 1 percent consists of additives, which include chemical compounds and other materials (such as walnut hulls) that prevent bacterial growth, slow corrosion and act as lubricants to make it easier for proppants to get into cracks.

As the gas comes out of a fracked well, a lot of this fluid comes back as waste. Until recently, many companies wouldn't reveal the exact chemical recipes of their fluids, citing trade secrets. A report released in April 2011 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee did provide some chemical data: From 2005 to 2009, 14 major gas and oil companies used 750 different chemicals in their fracking fluids. Twenty-five of these chemicals are listed as hazardous pollutants under the Clean Air Act, nine are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and 14 are known or possible human carcinogens, including naphthalene and benzene.

In addition to the fracking fluid, the flowback contains water from the bowels of the Earth. This "produced" water typically has a lot of salt, along with naturally occurring radioactive material, mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals.

"It's not just what you put into the well. The shale itself has chemicals, some of which are quite nasty," says Raymond Orbach, director of the University of Texas at Austin's Energy Institute. A report analyzing the risks associated with fracking was released by the Energy Institute in February in Vancouver at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (The report is under independent review because one of its authors didn't disclose that he is on the board of a gas-drilling company, but Orbach stands behind the study.)

Wastewater is dealt with in different ways. Sometimes it is stored on-site in lined pits until it is trucked off. When these pits are open to the air, they can release fumes or overflow, with possibly hazardous consequences.

The Energy Institute report cites one case in West Virginia in which about 300,000 gallons of flowback water was intentionally released into a mixed hardwood forest. Trees prematurely shed their leaves, many died over a two-year study period, and ground vegetation suffered. A briefing paper coauthored by geophysicist Mark Zoback of Stanford University points to spills: In 2009, leaky joints in a pipeline carrying wastewater to a disposal site allowed more than 4,000 gallons to spill into Pennsylvania's Cross Creek, killing fish and invertebrates.

For obvious ethical reasons, controlled studies exposing people to fracking fluid don't exist. And long-term population studies comparing pre- and post-fracking health haven't yet been done. But these incidents — and the known dangers of some of the chemicals used — raise alarms about the possible consequences of human exposure.

Local geology in some areas may also allow fracking chemicals and produced water to seep up from deep below into water sources. A study published in July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a geochemical fingerprint of briny shale water in some aquifers and wells in Pennsylvania. Local geology probably also played a role in fracking fluid getting into drinking water in Pavillion, Wyo., a site that has been at the heart of the fracking controversy.

Still, several reviews of where fracking chemicals and wastewater have done harm find that the primary exposure risks relate to activities at the surface, including accidents, poor management and illicit dumping.

An accepted disposal route is injecting the water into designated wastewater wells. But that strategy can cause an additional problem: earthquakes.

Does fracking cause earthquakes?

Hydraulic fracturing operations have been linked to some small earthquakes, including a magnitude 2.3 quake near Blackpool, England, last year.

But scientists agree such earthquakes are extremely rare, occurring when a well hits a seismic sweet spot, and are avoidable with monitoring.

Of greater concern are earthquakes associated with the disposal of fracking fluid into wastewater wells. Injected fluid essentially greases the fault, a long-known effect. In the 1960s, a series of Denver earthquakes were linked to wastewater disposal at the Rocky Mountain arsenal, an Army site nearby. Wastewater disposal was also blamed for a magnitude 4.0 quake in Youngstown, Ohio, last New Year's Eve.

A study headed by William Ellsworth of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., documents a dramatic increase in earthquakes in the Midwest coinciding with the start of the fracking boom. From 1970 to 2000, the region experienced about 20 quakes per year measuring at or above magnitude 3.0. Between 2001 and 2008, there were 29 such quakes per year. Then there were 50 in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 in 2011.

"The change was really quite pronounced," says Ellsworth. "We do not think it's a purely natural phenomenon." But the earthquakes weren't happening near active drilling — they seemed to be clustered around wastewater wells.

It's hard to look back without pre-quake data and figure out what triggers a single earthquake, notes Ellsworth. There are several pieces of the geology equation that, if toggled, can tip a fault from stable to unstable.

A recent study examining seismic activity at wastewater injection wells in Texas linked earthquakes with injections of more than 150,000 barrels of water per month. But not every case fit the pattern, suggesting the orientation of deep faults is important.

Ellsworth advises that injection at active faults be avoided. Drill sites should be considered for their geological stability, and seismic information should be collected. Only about 3 percent of the 75,000-odd hydraulic fracturing setups in the United States in 2009 were seismically monitored.

"There are many things we don't understand," says Ellsworth. "We're in ambulance-chasing mode where we're coming in after the fact."

Is it worth it?

That ambulance-chasing mode is what makes current shale gas operations so worrisome to many. If scientists had the data needed to identify problems and find ways to ameliorate or eliminate them, then the current fracas over fracking may have been preempted.

"Transparency has been missing," says Stanford's Zoback. "Then the public gets suspicious and alarmed, and you get misplaced hysteria."

Zoback and other scientists surveying existing data generally have concluded that there are dangers associated with fracking but that existing technologies, regulation and serious enforcement could resolve them. Such regulations would include minimizing the local environmental footprint of setting up the well site and trucking in water and sand, monitoring the integrity of steel casings and cement, swapping out toxic chemicals from the fracking fluid, and collecting seismic and other geologic data.

Like many technologies, fracking comes with promise and with risk, says Zoback. Rules tailored depending on local geology and other factors can mitigate those risks. Consider all the regulations surrounding automobiles. There are seat belts and air bags, emission tests and proper and improper ways to dispose of oil and brake fluid.

Ultimately, unless people are willing to cut way back on their energy use, the risks associated with natural gas recovery have to be weighed against the risks that come with coal, nuclear power and other energy sources.

"It's clear that it's a remarkable resource," Zoback says. "It's abundant, and as a transition fuel between today and the green-energy future, natural gas really is the answer, I'm convinced. But that's not a get-out-of-jail-free card."

Fracking footprint
A typical shale gas drilling site is abuzz with activity. After a well pad is constructed, engineers drill straight down, typically thousands of meters, toward the target shale. Then the well is drilled horizontally. Explosives set off in the horizontal portion create holes in the well’s sides through which millions of gallons of fracking fluid are pumped. The fluid fractures the shale, releasing the trapped gas for recovery. Beyond the rig itself, there are holding tanks and pits, and trucks for pumping in water and carrying away wastewater and gas. Such a big operation leaves a lot of room for error.

View larger image Illustration: Nicolle Rager Fuller

Potential hazards

1. Blowout When blowout prevention equipment is absent or fails, pressurized fluid and gas can explode out the wellhead, injuring people and spewing pollutants.

2. Gas leak Methane, the primary gas in natural gas, may be present in layers of rock above the target layer. Cracks in the cement that seal the well to the surrounding rock can provide a path for this methane to travel into the water table.

3. Air pollution Flare pipes that burn methane so it doesn’t build up, diesel truck exhaust and emissions from wastewater evaporation can dirty the air near a drill site. When methane is released without being burned, it acts as a potent greenhouse gas, trapping 20 times as much heat as carbon dioxide.

4. Wastewater overflow Fracking fluid, about 1 percent of which is made up of chemicals (sometimes including carcinogens), is increasingly recycled for use in other wells. But sometimes it is stored in open pits that emit noxious fumes and can overflow with rain.

5. Other leaks There are some worries that local geology in particular areas would allow fracking-produced fluid and methane to travel upward. But most evidence of exposure stems from surface problems such as spills or illicit dumping.

6. Home explosions If methane does get into the water table — because of cracked cement, local geology or the effects of old wells — it can build up in homes and lead to explosions.

COMMENT
CITATIONS
W.L. Ellsworth. Et al. Are seismicity rate changes in the midcontinent natural or manmade? Seismological Society of America conference, San Diego. April 18, 2012. Abstract Available: [Go to]

C. Frohlich. Two-year survey comparing earthquake activity and injection-well locations in the Barnett Shale, Texas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1207728109. Available here: [Go to]

C.G. Groat and T. W. Grimshaw. Fact-Based regulation for environmental protection in shale gas development. Energy Institute report, University of Texas at Austin. February 2012. Available here: www.ralaw.com/public_document.cfm?id=3367

R.B. Jackson et al. Research and policy recommendations for hydraulic fracturing and shale‐gas extraction. Policy Brief. May 2011. Available here: [Go to]

S.G. Osborn et al. Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1100682108. Available here: [Go to]

Report on the Investigation of the Natural Gas Invasion of Aquifers in Bainbridge Township of Geauga County, Ohio. Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management. Sept. 1, 2008. Available here: [Go to]

Review of emerging resources: U.S. shale gas and shale oil plays. July 8, 2011.U.S. Energy Information Administration. Available here: [Go to]

N.R. Warner et al. Geochemical evidence for possible natural migration of Marcellus Formation brine to shallow aquifers in Pennsylvania. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 109, July 24, 2012. doi:10.1073/pnas.1121181109. Available here: [Go to]

U.S. Energy Information Administration on shale gas: [Go to]

United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Minority Staff. Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. April 2011. Available here: [Go to]

M. Zoback, S. Kitasei and B. Copithorne. Addressing the environmental risks from shale gas development. Briefing paper. July 2010. Available here: [Go to]
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:57 pm
The Facts Behind the Frack
Scientists weigh in on the hydraulic fracturing debate

By Rachel Ehrenberg
Web edition: August 24, 2012
Print edition: September 8, 2012; Vol.182 #5 (p. 20)
A+ A- Text Size

ENLARGE
Residents fear that hydraulic fracturing operations lead to home explosions, pollution and earthquakes. Science can speak to some of these concerns.
© Red Circle Images RM/www.fotosearch.com Stock Photography
To call it a fractious debate is an understatement.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, wrenches open rock deep beneath the Earth's surface, freeing the natural gas that's trapped inside. Proponents argue that fracking-related gas recovery is a game changer, a bridge to the renewable energy landscape of the future. The gas, primarily methane, is cheap and relatively clean. Because America is brimful of the stuff, harvesting the fuel via fracking could provide the country jobs and reduce its dependence on foreign sources of energy.

But along with these promises have come alarming local incidents and national reports of blowouts, contamination and earthquakes. Fracking opponents contend that the process poisons air and drinking water and may make people sick. What's more, they argue, fracking leaks methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can blow up homes, worries highlighted in the controversial 2010 documentary Gasland.

Fears that fracking companies are operating in a Wild West environment with little regulation have prompted political action. In June, the group Don't Frack Ohio led thousands of protesters on a march to the statehouse, where they declared their commitment to halting hydraulic fracturing in the state. Legislation banning the process has been considered but is now on hold in California. New York — which sits atop a giant natural gas reserve — has a statewide fracking moratorium; pending policies would allow the process only where local officials support it.

Despite all this activity, not much of the fracking debate has brought scientific evidence into the fold. Yet scientists have been studying the risks posed by fracking operations. Research suggests methane leaks do happen. The millions of gallons of chemical-laden water used to fracture shale deep in the ground has spoiled land and waterways. There's also evidence linking natural gas recovery to earthquakes, but this problem seems to stem primarily from wastewater disposal rather than the fracturing process itself.

While the dangers are real, most problems linked to fracking so far are not specific to the technology but come with many large-scale energy operations employing poor practices with little oversight, scientists contend. Whether the energy payoff can come with an acceptable level of risk remains an open question.

"People want it to be simple on both sides of the ledger, and it's not simple," says environmental scientist Robert Jackson of Duke University. "Our goal is to highlight the problems, so we can understand the problems and do what we can to help."

What is hydraulic fracturing?

Hydraulic fracturing has been cranking up output from gas and other wells for more than 50 years. But not until fracking joined up with another existing technology, horizontal drilling, was the approach used to unlock vast stores of previously inaccessible natural gas. The real fracking boom has kicked off in just the last decade.

Conventionally drilled wells tap easy-to-get-at pockets of natural gas. Such gas heats homes and offices, fuels vehicles and generates electricity. But as easily accessible reserves have been used up, countries seeking a steady supply of domestic energy have turned to natural gas buried in difficult-to-reach places, such as deep layers of shale.

Gas doesn't flow easily through shale or other impermeable rock. Drilling a conventional well into such formations would gather gas only from a small area right around the well. And, for shale in particular, many formations in the United States extend hundreds of kilometers across but are less than 100 meters thick, hardly worth sending a vertical well into.

Combining hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling offers a way to wrest gas from these untapped reserves. By drilling sideways into a rock formation and then sending cracks sprawling though the rock, methane can burble into a well from a much larger area.

The drill-frack punch goes something like this: After constructing a drill pad, engineers drill a well straight down, typically for thousands of meters, toward the target bed of rock. Operators then begin "kicking off," turning the drill so it bores into the formation horizontally, forming an L-shape.


ENLARGE
UNTAPPED RESOURCE
View larger image | With the help of hydraulic fracturing, drillers can access natural gas that was previously locked in shale beds. A recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration analyzed major shale basins (shown) in 32 countries around the world.
U.S. Energy Information Administration
After small explosive charges perforate the far end of the well's horizontal portion, called the toe, hydraulic fracturing can begin. Millions of gallons of fracking fluid — a mixture of water, sand and chemicals — are pumped into the well at pressures high enough to fracture the shale. Methane within the shale diffuses into these fissures and flows up the well. Along with the gas comes flowback water, which contains fracking fluid and additional water found naturally in the rock.

After the well's toe is fracked, engineers repeat the procedure, moving back along the horizontal portion of the well until its heel is reached. Compared with conventional wells, which may steadily pump out fuel for more than a decade, shale gas extraction is like blasting open a faucet. There's a huge surge in gas, but it may become merely a dribble after a few years. At the end of its life, the well gets plugged.

Today hydraulic fracturing is used in about nine out of 10 onshore oil and gas wells in the United States, with an estimated 11,400 new wells fractured each year. In 2010, about 23 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States came from shale beds.

While the immediate output is gas, the uptick in this type of extraction has also fueled fears over fracking's potential dangers — such as drinking water contamination.

Does methane leak into water?

One of the most explosive issues, literally, is whether fracking introduces methane into drinking water wells at levels that can make tap water flammable or can build up in confined spaces and cause home explosions.

Studies are few, but a recent analysis suggests a link. Scientists who sampled groundwater from 60 private water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York found that average methane concentrations in wells near active fracturing operations were 17 times as high as in wells in inactive areas. Methane naturally exists in groundwater — in fact, the study found methane in 51 of the 60 water wells — but the higher levels near extracting sites raised eyebrows.

To get at where the methane was coming from, the researchers looked at the gas's carbon, which has different forms depending on where it has been. The carbon's isotopic signature, and the ratio of methane to other hydrocarbons, suggested that methane in water wells near drilling sites did not originate in surface waters but came from deeper down.

But how far down and how the methane traveled aren't clear, says Duke's Jackson, a coauthor of the study, published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He proposes four possibilities. The first, most contentious — and, says Jackson, the least likely — is that the extraction process opens up fissures that allow methane and other chemicals to migrate to the surface. A second possibility is that the steel tubing lining the gas well, the well casing, weakens in some way. Both scenarios would also allow briny water from the shale and fracking fluid to migrate upward. The well water analysis found no evidence of either.

Newly fracked gas wells could also be intersecting with old, abandoned gas or oil wells, allowing methane from those sites to migrate. "We've punched holes in the ground in Pennsylvania for 150 years," Jackson says. Many old wells have not been shut down properly, he says. "You find ones that people plugged with a tree stump." In some places in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and elsewhere (especially those with existing coal beds), methane turned up in well water long before hydraulic fracturing became widespread.

A fourth possibility, which Jackson thinks is most probable, is that the cement between the well casing and the surrounding rock is not forming a proper seal. Cracking or too little cement could create a passageway allowing methane from an intermediate layer of rock to drift into water sources near the surface. Such cases have been documented. In 2007, for example, the faulty cement seal of a fracked well in Bainbridge, Ohio, allowed gas from a shale layer above the target layer to travel into an underground drinking water source. The methane built up enough to cause an explosion in a homeowner's basement.

Other types of gas and oil wells have similar problems, Jackson says, but fracking's high pressures and the shaking that results may make cement cracks more likely. "Maybe the process itself makes it harder to get good seals," he says. "We need better information."

Accompanying these concerns are worries that methane leaking into the air will have consequences for the climate and human health. Burning methane creates fewer greenhouse gas emissions and smog ingredients than other fossil fuels, so natural gas is considered relatively clean. But evidence suggests that methane frequently escapes into the air during drilling and shipping, where it acts as a greenhouse gas and traps heat. Such leaking undermines the gas's "clean" status.


ENLARGE
SHALE’S BIG ROLE
View larger image | The United States will produce more natural gas in the future, and much of it from shale, a recent report suggests. By 2035, total U.S. gas production is expected to increase to 27.9 trillion cubic feet, up from 21.6 trillion cubic feet in 2010.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2012
Methane leaking into the air can also cause ozone to build up locally, leading to worries about headaches, inflammation and other ills among people who live nearby. Scientists in Pennsylvania have proposed a long-term study examining possible links between air pollution from the shale gas boom and human health. A more immediate concern for human health, Jackson and others argue, is exposure to fracking wastewater.

Is fracking fluid hazardous?

A typical fracked well uses between 2 million and 8 million gallons of water. At the high end, that's enough to fill 12 Olympic swimming pools. Companies have their own specific mixes, but generally water makes up about 90 percent of the fracking fluid. About 9 percent is "proppants," stuff such as sand or glass beads that prop open the fissures. The other 1 percent consists of additives, which include chemical compounds and other materials (such as walnut hulls) that prevent bacterial growth, slow corrosion and act as lubricants to make it easier for proppants to get into cracks.

As the gas comes out of a fracked well, a lot of this fluid comes back as waste. Until recently, many companies wouldn't reveal the exact chemical recipes of their fluids, citing trade secrets. A report released in April 2011 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee did provide some chemical data: From 2005 to 2009, 14 major gas and oil companies used 750 different chemicals in their fracking fluids. Twenty-five of these chemicals are listed as hazardous pollutants under the Clean Air Act, nine are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and 14 are known or possible human carcinogens, including naphthalene and benzene.

In addition to the fracking fluid, the flowback contains water from the bowels of the Earth. This "produced" water typically has a lot of salt, along with naturally occurring radioactive material, mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals.

"It's not just what you put into the well. The shale itself has chemicals, some of which are quite nasty," says Raymond Orbach, director of the University of Texas at Austin's Energy Institute. A report analyzing the risks associated with fracking was released by the Energy Institute in February in Vancouver at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (The report is under independent review because one of its authors didn't disclose that he is on the board of a gas-drilling company, but Orbach stands behind the study.)

Wastewater is dealt with in different ways. Sometimes it is stored on-site in lined pits until it is trucked off. When these pits are open to the air, they can release fumes or overflow, with possibly hazardous consequences.

The Energy Institute report cites one case in West Virginia in which about 300,000 gallons of flowback water was intentionally released into a mixed hardwood forest. Trees prematurely shed their leaves, many died over a two-year study period, and ground vegetation suffered. A briefing paper coauthored by geophysicist Mark Zoback of Stanford University points to spills: In 2009, leaky joints in a pipeline carrying wastewater to a disposal site allowed more than 4,000 gallons to spill into Pennsylvania's Cross Creek, killing fish and invertebrates.

For obvious ethical reasons, controlled studies exposing people to fracking fluid don't exist. And long-term population studies comparing pre- and post-fracking health haven't yet been done. But these incidents — and the known dangers of some of the chemicals used — raise alarms about the possible consequences of human exposure.

Local geology in some areas may also allow fracking chemicals and produced water to seep up from deep below into water sources. A study published in July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a geochemical fingerprint of briny shale water in some aquifers and wells in Pennsylvania. Local geology probably also played a role in fracking fluid getting into drinking water in Pavillion, Wyo., a site that has been at the heart of the fracking controversy.

Still, several reviews of where fracking chemicals and wastewater have done harm find that the primary exposure risks relate to activities at the surface, including accidents, poor management and illicit dumping.

An accepted disposal route is injecting the water into designated wastewater wells. But that strategy can cause an additional problem: earthquakes.

Does fracking cause earthquakes?

Hydraulic fracturing operations have been linked to some small earthquakes, including a magnitude 2.3 quake near Blackpool, England, last year.

But scientists agree such earthquakes are extremely rare, occurring when a well hits a seismic sweet spot, and are avoidable with monitoring.

Of greater concern are earthquakes associated with the disposal of fracking fluid into wastewater wells. Injected fluid essentially greases the fault, a long-known effect. In the 1960s, a series of Denver earthquakes were linked to wastewater disposal at the Rocky Mountain arsenal, an Army site nearby. Wastewater disposal was also blamed for a magnitude 4.0 quake in Youngstown, Ohio, last New Year's Eve.

A study headed by William Ellsworth of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., documents a dramatic increase in earthquakes in the Midwest coinciding with the start of the fracking boom. From 1970 to 2000, the region experienced about 20 quakes per year measuring at or above magnitude 3.0. Between 2001 and 2008, there were 29 such quakes per year. Then there were 50 in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 in 2011.

"The change was really quite pronounced," says Ellsworth. "We do not think it's a purely natural phenomenon." But the earthquakes weren't happening near active drilling — they seemed to be clustered around wastewater wells.

It's hard to look back without pre-quake data and figure out what triggers a single earthquake, notes Ellsworth. There are several pieces of the geology equation that, if toggled, can tip a fault from stable to unstable.

A recent study examining seismic activity at wastewater injection wells in Texas linked earthquakes with injections of more than 150,000 barrels of water per month. But not every case fit the pattern, suggesting the orientation of deep faults is important.

Ellsworth advises that injection at active faults be avoided. Drill sites should be considered for their geological stability, and seismic information should be collected. Only about 3 percent of the 75,000-odd hydraulic fracturing setups in the United States in 2009 were seismically monitored.

"There are many things we don't understand," says Ellsworth. "We're in ambulance-chasing mode where we're coming in after the fact."

Is it worth it?

That ambulance-chasing mode is what makes current shale gas operations so worrisome to many. If scientists had the data needed to identify problems and find ways to ameliorate or eliminate them, then the current fracas over fracking may have been preempted.

"Transparency has been missing," says Stanford's Zoback. "Then the public gets suspicious and alarmed, and you get misplaced hysteria."

Zoback and other scientists surveying existing data generally have concluded that there are dangers associated with fracking but that existing technologies, regulation and serious enforcement could resolve them. Such regulations would include minimizing the local environmental footprint of setting up the well site and trucking in water and sand, monitoring the integrity of steel casings and cement, swapping out toxic chemicals from the fracking fluid, and collecting seismic and other geologic data.

Like many technologies, fracking comes with promise and with risk, says Zoback. Rules tailored depending on local geology and other factors can mitigate those risks. Consider all the regulations surrounding automobiles. There are seat belts and air bags, emission tests and proper and improper ways to dispose of oil and brake fluid.

Ultimately, unless people are willing to cut way back on their energy use, the risks associated with natural gas recovery have to be weighed against the risks that come with coal, nuclear power and other energy sources.

"It's clear that it's a remarkable resource," Zoback says. "It's abundant, and as a transition fuel between today and the green-energy future, natural gas really is the answer, I'm convinced. But that's not a get-out-of-jail-free card."

Fracking footprint
A typical shale gas drilling site is abuzz with activity. After a well pad is constructed, engineers drill straight down, typically thousands of meters, toward the target shale. Then the well is drilled horizontally. Explosives set off in the horizontal portion create holes in the well’s sides through which millions of gallons of fracking fluid are pumped. The fluid fractures the shale, releasing the trapped gas for recovery. Beyond the rig itself, there are holding tanks and pits, and trucks for pumping in water and carrying away wastewater and gas. Such a big operation leaves a lot of room for error.

View larger image Illustration: Nicolle Rager Fuller

Potential hazards

1. Blowout When blowout prevention equipment is absent or fails, pressurized fluid and gas can explode out the wellhead, injuring people and spewing pollutants.

2. Gas leak Methane, the primary gas in natural gas, may be present in layers of rock above the target layer. Cracks in the cement that seal the well to the surrounding rock can provide a path for this methane to travel into the water table.

3. Air pollution Flare pipes that burn methane so it doesn’t build up, diesel truck exhaust and emissions from wastewater evaporation can dirty the air near a drill site. When methane is released without being burned, it acts as a potent greenhouse gas, trapping 20 times as much heat as carbon dioxide.

4. Wastewater overflow Fracking fluid, about 1 percent of which is made up of chemicals (sometimes including carcinogens), is increasingly recycled for use in other wells. But sometimes it is stored in open pits that emit noxious fumes and can overflow with rain.

5. Other leaks There are some worries that local geology in particular areas would allow fracking-produced fluid and methane to travel upward. But most evidence of exposure stems from surface problems such as spills or illicit dumping.

6. Home explosions If methane does get into the water table — because of cracked cement, local geology or the effects of old wells — it can build up in homes and lead to explosions.

COMMENT
CITATIONS
W.L. Ellsworth. Et al. Are seismicity rate changes in the midcontinent natural or manmade? Seismological Society of America conference, San Diego. April 18, 2012. Abstract Available: [Go to]

C. Frohlich. Two-year survey comparing earthquake activity and injection-well locations in the Barnett Shale, Texas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1207728109. Available here: [Go to]

C.G. Groat and T. W. Grimshaw. Fact-Based regulation for environmental protection in shale gas development. Energy Institute report, University of Texas at Austin. February 2012. Available here: www.ralaw.com/public_document.cfm?id=3367

R.B. Jackson et al. Research and policy recommendations for hydraulic fracturing and shale‐gas extraction. Policy Brief. May 2011. Available here: [Go to]

S.G. Osborn et al. Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1100682108. Available here: [Go to]

Report on the Investigation of the Natural Gas Invasion of Aquifers in Bainbridge Township of Geauga County, Ohio. Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management. Sept. 1, 2008. Available here: [Go to]

Review of emerging resources: U.S. shale gas and shale oil plays. July 8, 2011.U.S. Energy Information Administration. Available here: [Go to]

N.R. Warner et al. Geochemical evidence for possible natural migration of Marcellus Formation brine to shallow aquifers in Pennsylvania. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 109, July 24, 2012. doi:10.1073/pnas.1121181109. Available here: [Go to]

U.S. Energy Information Administration on shale gas: [Go to]

United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Minority Staff. Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. April 2011. Available here: [Go to]

M. Zoback, S. Kitasei and B. Copithorne. Addressing the environmental risks from shale gas development. Briefing paper. July 2010. Available here: [Go to]
 

LaurenAWAY Kozen (159)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:58 pm
Noted. Thanks Ruth.
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 12:59 pm
5 Facts about Fracking Every Family Needs to Know
More and more science is starting to call out the practice of natural gas fracking for what it is—dirty, and a threat to everybody's health.

BY LEAH ZERBE Share on email Share on stumbleupon


Gulp. Pollutants from natural gas fracking could end up in your drinking water, even if you don't live near a fracking site.

What is fracking? While fracking may not be a household word yet, but we've been talking about this form of natural gas drilling—and its potential effects on your family's health—for some time. Now it seems more voices are about to join the conversation.
Recently, a ranking congressman on the House Committee on Natural Resources questioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's competence in protecting Americans from toxic exposures, after a New York Times exposé on hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a fracking, uncovered major threats to human health.
As previously reported on Rodale.com, fracking releases uranium and other radioactive material and brings them to the surface in wastewater laced with carcinogenic industrial chemicals, heavy salts, and other contaminants. Because this toxic wastewater is often trucked to other municipalities for treatment, fracking affects not just families in the immediate drilling zones, but in surrounding states, too. Inadequately treated water from fracking often contains dangerous levels of radioactive materials and other hazardous waste, and is routinely released into rivers that supply drinking water to people, according to the NYT article.
"These disturbing revelations raise the prospect that natural gas production has turned our rivers and streams into this generation’s Love Canals," Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement. "The natural gas industry has repeatedly claimed that fracking can be done safely. We now know we need a full investigation into exactly how fracking is done and what it does to our drinking water and our environment."
What is fracking, exactly. Some hail it as an economic savior, while others say it's ruining their health. Emerging science suggests the temporary financial boost may come at a huge price. Unpleasant consequences of drilling for natural gas in shale formations around the country are front and center in the documentary Gasland, a documentary that was nominated for top honors in Sunday's Academy Awards (but didn't win). According to recent reports, including one on Salon.com, the natural gas industry actually urged the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to withdraw its nomination of Gasland.
While the film is full of compelling, but mostly anecdotal, evidence of families falling ill and animals dying after the big drilling rigs, chemical cocktails, and compressor stations move into town, it's important to note that a growing body of scientific evidence is finding that yes, fracking is harmful to not just the environment, but to us, too. Don't live near a fracking site? Keep reading anyway: This still concerns you.
Here are five important natural gas facts to share with your friends and family.
1. Natural gas is not clean. Natural gas burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels, but in the course of its entire life cycle, it's actually worse than coal, long touted as the dirtiest of our fossil fuels. Because fracking involves mixing millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals into the ground at high pressure, it creates fissures in the shale that release the natural gas. Life cycle analysis expert Robert Howarth, PhD, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University, discovered that anywhere from 3.6 to nearly 8 percent of the methane from shale gas drilling escapes through venting and leaks. Methane is a greenhouse gas about 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Howarth's latest life cycle calculations updated in January 2011 find that when considering the burning of natural gas, and the methane leaks that fracking creates, shale gas produces 1.20- to 2.1-fold more greenhouse gas emissions when compared to coal during a 20-year time period. Methane leaks are worse during the actual fracking process, but they continue to slowly seep over long periods of time. When considering this, natural gas is on par with coal when looking at greenhouse gas production over a 100-year period, the Cornell research shows.
2. Fracking chemicals are extremely dangerous. Since most natural gas drilling companies will not disclose all of the products they use in the drilling process, Theo Colborn, PhD, founder and president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, set out to figure out what's in the chemical cocktails used to drill wells and frack. She and her team found 649 different chemicals, more than half of which are known to disrupt the endocrine system. Exposure to these types of chemicals has been linked to certain cancers, diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome (the name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes). Fifty-five percent of the chemicals cause brain and nervous system damage, and many are linked to cancer and organ damage. The threat of exposure to these chemicals occurs via contaminated air, water, and soil. "They're getting away with absolute murder; it's criminal, the things they're doing," says award-winning scientist Colborn. "If you destroy an aquifer, you've lost it. You've destroyed your drinking water supply."
3. Natural gas drilling turns clean country air to smog. Even if drilling and the fracking process run completely according to plan with no leaks, no methane migration into drinking water wells, no explosions, and no issues dealing with wastewater, air pollution from fracking is inevitable. It's part of the process, as huge condensate tanks and compressor stations release toxic hydrocarbons like benzene, toluene, xylenes, and ethylbenzene (BTEX) into surrounding communities. At high levels, exposure to BTEX vapors may cause irreversible damage. That, paired with chemicals used in the initial drilling process, make it very harmful to live in the vicinity of a drilling operation, Colborn says. Her study in the International Journal of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment found that 36 percent of the identifiable chemicals used are volatile, meaning they become airborne. Among those, 93 percent have been shown to harm the eyes, skin, sensory organs, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, or liver.
4. Fracking releases uranium. That's right, the radioactive stuff. The 2005 Energy Act included what is known as the Halliburton Loophole, which exempts the natural gas drilling industry from many safeguards, such as the Clean Water Act, intended to protect citizens from industrial corporate activities that pollute. While the chemical cocktail used in fracking has been of much concern, new research is pointing to another fact: Contaminants and dangerous substances trapped deep underground become mobilized when fracking creates mini-earthquake-like explosions underground. A 2010 study out of the University of Buffalo found that natural gas drilling using the fracking method could potentially contaminate water supplies with uranium.
5. Fracking affects everyone. A natural gas survey released in December 2010 found that regardless of political leanings, most people are concerned about fracking. Even if you don't live atop a major shale deposit, the pollution generated in fracking could affect you. Conrad Dan Volz, DrPH, MPH, director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities and the GSPH Environmental Health Risk Assessment Certificate Program at the University of Pittsburgh, notes that as more wells are installed in various states, there's more toxic wastewater to deal with. Wastewater from fracking operations is often sent to municipal treatment plants that are not properly equipped to handle contamination by more than 600 chemicals, and possibly radioactive material. This wastewater is often shipped to locations where fracking isn't even taking place, threatening rivers and drinking water supplies in those towns.
Aside from the toxic wastewater issue, fracking could also blemish your nature vacation. Drilling is allowed on public lands, and it's particularly on display in the now not-so-picturesque parks of Colorado and Wyoming.
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 1:01 pm
Natural gas development has exploded at break-neck
speed in recent years, fueled by advancements in an
extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing—
or fracking—that has allowed the oil and gas industry
to access previously out-of-reach reserves.
Unfortunately, federal and state safeguards to
protect people and the environment from the hazards
of fracking have not kept pace. As a result, this
development has proved dangerous, destructive,
and polluting.
This unbridled growth of fracking has allowed the
gas industry to run roughshod over communities,
leaving a host of serious impacts in their wake—from
poisoned water wells, to contaminated rivers and
streams, toxic air pollution and devastated property
values in towns, and rural areas across the country.
This has to change.
First and foremost, we need our leaders to prioritize
more efficient, cleaner, safer, and renewable sources
of power that will not poison our health or our water.
Second, we must take sensitive, risky and vulnerable
areas off the table for gas development. Third,
wherever gas development is occurring, we need
effective safeguards on the books to ensure that
Americans no longer have to sacrifice their health,
safe drinking water, and property values for oil and
gas company profits.

WhAt is frAcking?
Fracking involves mixing large quantities of water and sand
with dangerous chemicals, and blasting it into wells at
extremely high pressure in order to release oil or natural gas
deposits trapped in rock. Sometimes this can take place as
little as 100 feet from homes or drinking water supplies.
The fracking process requires considerable amounts of
water, involves the use of toxic chemicals, necessitates huge
amounts of truck traffic, and produces large quantities of
highly polluted wastewater. At any given stage of this process,
there are numerous environmental and public health
threats. It can contaminate drinking water supplies, generate
substantial air pollution emissions, destroy habitat and
landscapes, and fundamentally transform rural communities.
Fracking is currently taking place in approximately 30
states, without sufficient safeguards and typically under
outdated regulations and inadequate enforcement. The oil
and gas industry is seeking to expand fracking nationwide to
extract gas from previously inaccessible sites, including shale
formations, tight sands, and other so-called “unconventional
gas plays.”
Over the last decade, the industry has drilled tens of
thousands of new wells in the Rocky Mountain region, the
South, and the eastern United States. In the East, the latest
hotbed of activity, the focus has been on a massive 600-milelong rock formation called the Marcellus Shale, which
stretches from West Virginia, through Ohio and Pennsylvania,
and into New York State.
WhAt Are the Adverse iMpActs
of drilling on coMMunities, the
environMent And public heAlth?
Communities across the country have experienced a wide
range of negative impacts from natural gas production.
Drinking water sources have been contaminated with
explosive methane, as well as other dangerous substances,
such as benzene and arsenic, that can cause cancer and other
serious illnesses. Toxic chemicals, as well as erosion and
runoff from drilling operations, have fouled treasured fishing
streams and aquatic habitat. Leaks and spills of hazardous
materials have polluted bodies of water, forests, farms, and
backyards. Farmers and ranchers report serious health
symptoms in livestock near natural gas operations. Exposure
to open pits has killed countless birds and other wildlife.
Emissions from drilling rigs, well-pad equipment, storage
tanks, compressor stations, and truck traffic contribute to
harmful ozone levels. The wells, roads, and pipelines that
come with natural gas development can displace wildlife
and fragment their habitats. And methane emissions from
production sites and pipelines contribute to climate change
pollution.
There have even been incidences of serious human health
threats that have led families to abandon their homes in
order to preserve their children’s health.
cAn drilling for nAturAl gAs
be MAde sAfer?
Yes. While virtually nothing can be made completely
safe, drilling and fracking can be made safer than current
operations. This is only possible if the federal and state
governments act to adopt strong, enforceable laws and
standards that protect the environment, public health,
and communities. These must also be backed by adequate
government oversight, and accompanied by corporate
policies that have zero tolerance for avoidable errors. Right
now, however, that is not the case. Cost-effective technologies exist that allow natural gas to
be produced in an economical but more environmentally
responsible way. For example, harmful air emissions,
including methane, can be captured with the right
equipment, toxic wastes can be managed in safer ways
(including prohibiting their collection in open-air pits), and
gas wells can be made stronger to reduce the risks of drinking
water contamination from blowouts and other problems.
Some states and local governments have begun updating
their rules and requiring cleaner operations. For instance,
Wyoming has established better air quality protections,
New Mexico has improved its waste management rules, and
Colorado is working to curb stormwater runoff from fracking
operations. Compared to the benefits, the costs associated
with these best practices are minimal.
But while these states have taken some positive steps,
they are limited and isolated examples. Most federal and
state regulations have not kept up with advancements in our
knowledge of the risks or with the latest technology. That is
why industry can and should immediately be required to
implement existing common sense, cost effective solutions
to universally increase protection for human health,
communities, and the environment.
New, comprehensive state and federal protections must
be put in place to address, among other key safeguards,
the following:
n reducing water pollution by improving well construction,
waste management, and monitoring of fracking
operations, and requiring oil and gas corporations to
comply with the sections of the Safe Drinking Water and
Clean Water Acts from which they are currently exempt.
n reducing air pollution by minimizing emissions that
harm public health and contribute to climate change, and
requiring the gas industry to adhere to critical components
of the Clean Air Act, from which they are also currently
exempt. Methane leak rates can and should be reduced to
well below 1 percent of production.
n protecting communities and residential areas by
requiring industry to move fracking operations further
away from homes and schools, strengthening restrictions
on noise and traffic, and giving municipalities the right
to use their powers to control where and how oil and gas
operations occur.
n protecting wilderness on federal public lands, which
involves reforming policies for natural gas development on
federal public lands, including new protections for wildlife
habitat, air and water resources, the climate, and human
health.
n disposing of hazardous fracking waste properly,
meaning that it should be required for all fracking waste
to be subject to the hazardous waste provisions of the
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, like other
hazardous waste.
n requiring public disclosure of chemicals used
throughout the extraction process and including the
industry in the Environmental Protection Agency’s
(EPA) Toxics Release Inventory, which will educate
communities about toxic substances on drilling sites
being used in their community.
n developing robust scientific research on the health
and environmental impacts associated with natural gas
production, and the options for preventing them.
n requiring air and water quality baseline testing
and monitoring, assessing the potential for exposure
to harmful substances, tracking health outcomes,
and including full consideration of health impacts in
environmental impact studies.
n enhancing enforcement of the laws and safeguards,
including establishing meaningful penalties for breaking
the law and creating whistleblower protections. This
also includes ensuring adequate resources for regulators
and inspectors, and requiring workers to report any
error, accident, violation of requirements, irregular
practice, or activity that otherwise jeopardizes safety
and environmental protection. Printed on recycled paper © Natural Resources Defense Council March 2012 www.nrdc.org/policy
should certAin plAces be set
off liMits?
Yes. Some places are simply too risky or sensitive to allow
fracking to move forward, regardless of the safeguards in
place.
For instance, fracking must not take place near drinking
water supplies. Adequate setbacks must be required to
protect all public and private drinking water supplies. The
cost and scale of an accident affecting water systems for large
metropolitan areas could prove massive and irrevocable. An
accident in the New York City drinking water supply alone,
for example, could threaten the safe drinking water for nine
million New Yorkers, as well as millions more in Philadelphia
and parts of New Jersey.
States also need to ensure that adequate buffer zones
are established around homes, private drinking water
wells, schools, and other vulnerable community resources
to protect against negative impacts of fracking, including
noise, air pollution, soil contamination, surface water
contamination, vibrations, and obtrusive lighting.
Additionally, part of our identity as a nation is tied to the
preservation of wild lands untouched by humans, including
wilderness and roadless areas. These areas provide invaluable
benefits to local communities as well as tourists and
visitors from around the world. Whether these irreplaceable
resources exist on land, off our coasts, or deep in the ocean,
they should be protected from drilling. We should not
sacrifice our most important values to obtain natural gas or
any other form of energy.
conclusion
Americans have a right to clean water when they turn on their
tap. They have a right to breathe clean air. They have a right
for their voice to be heard. And they have the right to stand
up when they have been wronged.
Our leaders must prioritize more efficient, cleaner, safer,
and renewable sources of power that move us away from
reliance on all fossil fuels. We should be sure that natural
gas is being used to replace dirtier fuels, such as coal, by
prioritizing renewable power sources and energy efficiency,
implementing recent clean air standards, like those for
mercury and sulfur, and setting strong power plant carbon
pollution standards.
Strong state and federal safeguards are essential to ensure
that any natural gas development occurs as safely as possible,
and avoids our most sensitive lands. Where federal and state
agencies are not doing enough, local governments should
have the authority to protect their citizens, communities,
and quality of life. NRDC opposes expanded fracking until
effective safeguards are in place. Please see: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/gasdrilling/.
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 1:02 pm
Dangers of fracking go beyond poisoned water supplies and earthquakes
By Martin Leggett - 22 Mar 2011 13:10:1 GMT

It's called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, and some herald it as the future of clean, safe energy from natural gas. But from Pennsylvania to West Virginia to Arkansas, residents are seeing earthquakes, poisoned water courses and contaminated drinking water. So as this massively expanding industry gears up to pump out gas, from deeply buried muds and shales, those local concerns have states, such as New York's, introducing moratoriums. But beyond those immediate problems looms a larger issue - is fracking just a way for us to continue with our fossil-fuel fix, and so dodge the rapid switch to renewables that the planet's climate needs so badly?

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is in fact an old drilling technology, already widely employed to aid recovery of gas and oil from deeply buried reservoirs. It involves the pumping of drilling fluids at pressure into the well, high enough to fracture the rocks containing the gas or oil; it then flows out more readily.

What has changed in the past few years is advances in drilling technology - wells can be drilled horizontally, and the fracking process has become more efficient. The result is that a previously neglected source of fossil fuels, shale gas, can be easily fracked - and widely tapped. That has resulted in a boom in shale gas extraction, with it accounting for 40% of US natural gas production in 2008. But that roll out of thousands of new wells has produced a shed load of new problems.

Fracking involves a massive amount of water-based drill muds that need to be disposed of - yet the US drilling industry was exempted from the Safe Water Drinking Act, by the 2005 Energy Policy Act of 2005. And now there are cases of water wells contaminated in Pennsylvania, and of creek ecosystems wiped out in West Virginia.

And fracking may even be making the earth move, with a rash of earthquakes reported in central Arkansas, resulting in the halt of drilling operations there. This has raised the environmental concerns on fracking to a new pitch, and a previously compliant EPA has been moved to take action, to investigate these problems.

But for proponents of the shale gas rush, these are just teething problems - better monitoring, improved technology and tighter regulations will put them to rest. Then we can all march bravely forward into a low-carbon future - with a shale gas reserve which could easily last the US out for 100 years. After all, natural gas has a much lower carbon emission intensity than dirty coal or fuel oil. Is the squeaky clean cousin of the fossil-fuel family.

The problem with this analysis is that it is typically, and usefully, short-sighted. The total effect on greenhouse gas emissions are more complicated than just comparing combustion efficiencies. You need to look at the full life cycle of all emissions from extracting, transporting and using a fuel. That's what a Cornell University professor did. And shockingly, over a 20 year timescale, shale gas has a higher greenhouse gas footprint than coal and oil. That's because of the conveniently forgotten role of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which is released during shale gas fracking.

That makes the continued exploitation of this resource part of the problem, and not the solution. Instead of a clean energy savior, shale gas is another green-tinged diversion from the task in hand. And the only promising future that it holds out is for a profit-lined one for the big gas and drilling companies.

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David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 1:28 pm
Nobody knows? How is that possible?

The fracking companies know, but they're not telling. In 2005, the Bush administration supported an energy bill that exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, so companies that engage in hydraulic fracturing can keep their chemical mixture a secret, even to those people who have signed leases to allow fracking on their land.
This exemption is sometimes referred to as "the Halliburton Loophole," since it was pushed through by then-vice president Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, one of the largest fracking companies in America.

Where do these dangerous hydrofracking chemicals go?

These cancer-causing chemicals usually remain locked within layers of rock deep underground, but they can also enter underground drinking water supplies and destroy drinking water quality. High levels of methane gas (another greenhouse gas) have been found in drinking water supplies in areas where fracking has occurred. This methane is believed to be responsible for dramatic images of tap water that ignites when a match is held near the faucet, as seen in the film Gasland.
When natural gas comes to the surface, it also brings with it millions of gallons of water that's been contaminated with a wide range of fracking chemical as well as radioactive elements like radium. This toxic, radioactive wastewater is stored in on-site ponds that can leak or overflow into streams. In other cases, the toxic wastewater is dumped at water treatment plants that don't have the ability to treat radioactive water that's heavily contaminated with fracking chemicals. That contaminated water then goes downstream -- and into another town's drinking water.

These serious, long-term threats to water quality are one of the many objections people have to fracking, especially in the Marcellus Shale region, which is located in an important watershed that provides drinking water for some 16 million people.

Does hydrofracking also impact air quality?

Yes. Fracking chemicals, plus a wide range of other gases, are routinely released into the air near fracking wells. High levels of cancer-causing BTEX, as well as compounds that are linked to birth defects, neurological problems and a host of other serious health problems, have been found in areas where fracking wells are common. According to the EPA, "There have been well-documented air quality impacts in areas with active natural gas development, with increases in emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants."
Aren't there regulations to protect air and water quality from fracking?

Not really. Energy companies have succeeded in shielding hydraulic fracturing from the regulations that apply to other industries (see the "Halliburton Loophole," above). Also, fracking technology has outpaced state and federal regulations, which are now playing catchup to an industry that has immense political and financial muscle.
A 2011 investigative report in The New York Times exposed many of the regulatory gaps that have allowed fracking companies to operate with little or no oversight. The report also exposed the health impacts and environmental destruction that have resulted in areas where hydraulic fracking is common.

But if we can control the air and water impacts of fracking, it would be fine.

Mitigating the impacts that hydraulic fracturing has on air and water quality would be a big improvement, but there's a third problem that keep occurring in fracking areas: earthquakes. Scientists suspect that a growing number of earthquakes in areas that are usually seismically inactive -- like Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas -- may be related to the rise in fracking in those places.
These myriad concerns -- air pollution, water pollution and possible earthquakes -- are among the reasons that several governments have banned all hydraulic fracturing or have placed a moratorium on the practice. France banned all fracking in 2011, and there's a moratorium on it in parts of Canada, South Africa and Australia, as well as in several U.S. states.

But don't the jobs and the energy created by hydrofracking outweigh the costs?

That's the subject of a debate that's raging all across America. To some, bringing cheap energy to market -- and providing jobs in economically depressed areas -- far outweigh any health or environmental impacts. To others, however, the problems associated with hydraulic fracturing are just one more example of an industry that's destroying the environment and ruining people's health in the pursuit of short-term profits and the development of non-renewable energy sources.
To address these concerns, many citizens and government officials are supporting measures that will curb the impacts of hydraulic fracturing. The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act would, at a minimum, force fracking companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking by repealing the Halliburton Loophole. Even if this measure passes, however, the issue of fracking will remain a social and political hot potato for many years to come.
 

David King (3174)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 1:30 pm
Gasland, an Oscar-nominated documentary film, has proven to be as explosive as its subject matter.

Written and filmed by Josh Fox, Gasland features scene after scene of kitchen tap water bursting into flames, allegedly because of the compounds that get into water after natural gas wells are drilled in the area. The drilling process, known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," is also blamed for many serious health problems.

The film exposes some of the more egregious practices of the natural gas industry, whose practices are largely exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and other landmark environmental legislation.

Adding to the controversy is the industry's unusually aggressive response to the film. Energy in Depth, which represents natural gas companies, sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences demanding that they remove the film from Oscar consideration because of alleged inaccuracies.

I watched Gasland last night and, as a resident of the New York area under consideration for fracking, am very concerned about the effects of fracking on the drinking water supply for millions of people. Call me a sissy, but I really don't want my kitchen sink to explode in flames.

Have you seen it yet?
 

. (0)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 1:51 pm
Thanks for the info, David. It is a no-brainer. The process pumps into the earth toxic chemicals. How about we fill the CEO of Halliburton's house with the same chemicals, but maybe in a gas derivative and then see how his family fares? If they don't die, I guess it must be safe.
 

Winn Adams (191)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 2:19 pm
Thanks
 

Susan Allen (221)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 2:46 pm
I posted this video which is also my video on my Care2 page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=timfvNgr_Q4

I have shared this story as well. I think I have a few other things I can post on the FB page as well.
 

Mariette G. (150)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 3:22 pm
Fracking should be banned everywhere! Not on FB, but will share. Thanks Ruth!
 

Birgit W. (144)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 3:56 pm
Our greedy politicians and corporations do everything about money, and are not only killing Mother Earth, but everybody and everything living on our planet. They do not even seem to care about their own grandchildren.
How sad is that? NO FRACKING PLEASE!
 

Jean C. (18)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 3:59 pm
David King - thanks for the info!
 

Karen B. (39)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 4:42 pm
Thanks for the info...will pass it on to friends..
 

Susan Allen (221)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 11:57 pm
I did find most of my links and posted them all:

http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/29/15547283-livestock-falling-ill-in-fracking-regions#.ULjAXQ6L4ps.mailto

A pdf document of the Potential Exposure-Related Human Health Effects of Oil and Gas Development: A Literature Review (2003-2008)
http://www.ccag.org.au/images/stories/pdfs/literature%20review%20witter%20et%20al%202008.pdf

Manmade Earthquakes
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/12/04/1273461/shale-shocked-studies-rise-significant-earthquakes-wastewater-injection/

Poisoning our Food Supply
http://www.thenation.com/article/171504/fracking-our-food-supply#

Methane Contamination of Drinking Water - peer reviewed research
http://www.propublica.org/documents/item/methane-contamination-of-drinking-water-accompanying-gas-well-drilling

President of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, who admitted publicly that fracking has contaminated local drinking water supplies in Pennsylvania
http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2011/04/19/gas-drilling-industry-makes-stunning-admission/

 

. (0)
Monday April 1, 2013, 3:21 pm
TY Ruth. Fracking is far from safe
 

. (0)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 2:45 am
thanks for info,noted.thank you
 

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 11:46 am
Thank you for your efforts to save the earth and for your efforts to educate the public. Now I understand what the message was about. I have been in a fog for days, but I'm coming our of it. Thanks to everyone who commented. In addition, Gasland, as mentioned by Kit, reveals the horrifying facts about fracking.(N, P, T)
 

Ruth R. (215)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 2:16 pm
Thank you for noting, signing, and sharing and/or posting.
 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday April 16, 2013, 9:53 am
TY Ruth for informative article. And I think it's great that you promote safe and clean energy!
 
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