The Facts on Fracking

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In this March 29, 2013 photo, a worker helps monitor water pumping pressure and temperature, at an Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. hydraulic fracturing and extraction site, outside Rifle, in western Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking — a method of extracting natural gas from underground shale formations — has become a contentious issue across America, especially in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, states that sit on top of the Marcellus Shale, the largest known deposit of shale gas in America. Some estimate that the shale formation could contain nearly 500 trillion cubic feet of gas — enough to power all American homes for 50 years. Oil and mining companies want to get the gas out, but environmentalist groups say the process is not safe. Here are the facts:

What is fracking, and how is it used?

Hydraulic fracturing is a 60-year-old technology. In the 1940s, oil and gas companies learned that pressurized water, sand and chemicals could be injected into a shale formation to loosen the shale and release gas and oil. The chemicals dissolve minerals and kill bacteria, and the sand props open the fractures in the shale so the gas or oil can be released. In the 1990s, oil engineers in Texas began combining fracking techniques with horizontal drilling, using higher volumes of pressurized water and chemical cocktails to release natural gas trapped in shale formations that hadn’t been reachable through vertical drilling.

What are the benefits of fracking?

In the past decade, the use of fracking has transformed America’s energy industry. In 2000, shale gas made up one percent of America’s gas supplies; in 2011 it was 25 percent. Natural gas is cleaner than America’s other two primary sources of energy, coal and oil, and, while more expensive than coal, is far cheaper than oil.

The shale boom has also helped regions that are suffering economically, adding an estimated 72,000 new hires in Pennsylvania between 2009 and 2011.

What are the risks of fracking?

The chemicals that are injected into shale deposits during fracking in the U.S. include acids, detergents and poisons that can be harmful if they seep into drinking water. Trucking and storage accidents have caused spills of fracking fluids and the salty water used — called brine — also resulting in contaminated drinking water. Gas companies often do not disclose the composition of their fracking chemical cocktails, making it difficult to monitor the risks of each fracking project. Methane gas can also escape during fracking, creating the possibility of dangerous explosions.

After the fracking process, deposits of radioactive elements and huge concentrations of salt are left in the earth’s surface; in order to dispose of these deposits gas companies inject them into deep wells, in some cases triggering small earthquakes, as has already happened in eight U.S. locations. New Pennsylvania regulations enacted in 2011 require gas companies to recycle 90 percent of the briny water by reusing it to frack more shale.

Fracking allows us to burn what was until recently an unreachable fossil fuel reservoir, which leads to the release of more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition to the natural gas itself, both the methane gas that is a byproduct of extraction and the carbon dioxide that is created through burning that methane are greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming.

The New York State debate

Of the states over the Marcellus Shale formation, fracking is already underway in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Fracking is also being used to reach gas in states beyond the Marcellus deposit, notably North Dakota and Texas. But New York state policymakers have not yet decided whether fracking should be allowed in their state.

In September 2011, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released its recommendations for how the state can allow fracking without endangering New Yorkers with contaminated drinking water. The DEC recommended that fracking not take place within 2,000 feet of public drinking supplies or within 500 feet of private wells, unless approved of by the landowner. The proposed rules would also ban fracking within the New York City and Syracuse watersheds. In March 2013, the Democrat-dominated State Assembly approved a two-year moratorium on fracking from the state’s southern border with Pennsylvania to the Catskills until there is “conclusive scientific evidence” on possible health and environmental risks. Conventional drilling, which uses shallower wells and far less water than high-volume fracking, has gone on for decades in New York.

Outside the U.S.

The practice is controversial outside of America as well. France and Bulgaria have the largest shale reserves in Europe; France banned fracking in 2001 due to environmental concerns, and Bulgaria banned it in 2012. Environmentalists are looking for similar bans in England and Poland.

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  • Alan Kennedy

    2,000 feet and 500 feet ? – Oh well, that sounds more than enough …

  • Anonymous

    You neglected to mention that the reason that oil companies don’t disclose their fracking chemicals is that Dick Cheney helped pass a law allowing them to keep these chemicals secret, even if they “accidentally” contaminate drinking water. Even if they don’t directly contaminate drinking water sources, these companies use above ground evaporation techniques to dispose of the contaminated water, putting carcinogens into the air.

  • Yuri Gorby

    Certainly you should include the exclusive exemptions provided to high volume slick water hydraulic fracturing by the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The so-called Halliburton Loophole removes federal oversight, including the Clean Air Act, The Safe Drinking Water Act, RCRA, CRCLA……exemptions for 11 regulations meant to protect human and environmental health.

  • Mary Sweeney

    The photo above shows fracking taking place in the midst of a lot of beautiful, open country. This is very disturbing. But it may also be somewhat misleading to those who do not live in fracking regions, because in the Northeast especially (but also in some other areas) fracking for shale gas is going on in the midst of beautiful, POPULATED country, where gas wells, compressor stations, and pipelines are very, very close to homes, schools, water sources, food crops, and livestock.

    Individual shale gas wells deplete rapidly, so fracking for shale gas requires very intensive development: the usual model is one multi-well pad containing 4, 6, 8, or even more wells per square mile. Given the number of wells required, it would be impossible to get significant amounts of shale gas from the Northeast without locating gas wells very close to homes and schools, where a well blowout or a chemical spill could cause catastrophic damage.

    It is also important to keep in mind that the local, regional, and global risks associated with shale gas development are being undertaken for what could turn out to be a very limited amount of gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the entire Marcellus may yield around 141 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, and that all of the shale basins in the U.S. (including the Marcellus) may yield around 482 tcf. That sounds like a lot until you realize that the U.S. currently consumes about 25 tcf of natural gas per year.

  • up2here

    And I ask, WHO IS CONNECTED TO HALLIBURTON? answer = Bush-Cheney & company.

  • Auburn Meadow Farm

    There’s so much missing here…

  • Joe Creitz

    In California one of the debates is whether the industry should be required to disclose what chemicals are being injected into the ground. That seems like a no-brainer, but the industry claims that it needs to protect its trade secrets. Spare me.

  • Kelly McNamara Giordano

    This is not completely accurate as the information given is incomplete.

    While hydraulic fracturing may have been a method employed since the 1960s, the HORIZONTAL DRILL technique for hydraulic fracking was not available until the early 2000s. This newly developed drill bit and the horizontal bores resulting therefrom make a critical difference in the overall effects of the process. To refrain from the discussion of these differences is irresponsible.

  • Tracey Shultz Bee

    I know people who work for oil and gas companies in Texas. They are on Fracking teams. One thing (there are many, but one) that bugs me is the companies that are extracting oil are also burning off the natural gas as a bi-product, instead of selling it. Apparently, the glut would lower prices TOO much, and it is cheaper to just burn it than to use if for energy – isn’t that crazy? Why is that even allowed?

  • Gusto

    Hydraulic Fracturing of RESERVOIR rock formations to INCREASE (not “create”) permeability, flow rates and ultimate reserves recovery is indeed an old, entirely rational oilfield operation. What is new and inherently riskier, is the practice of fracturing IMpermeable, hydrocarbon-saturated SOURCE beds; ie. Shales. Formerly, the fracturing was judiciously confined to the Reservoir rocks which, post-fracking, REMAINED hydrologically isolated from the overlying FRESH WATER aquifers by intervening layers of IMpermeable shales which served as a “seal”.

    Moreover, MUCH higher hydraulic pressures PLUS substantial volumes of extraordinarily toxic chemicals are required to effectively frack inherently IMpermeable shales than that required to frack somewhat permeable sandstones and limestones, thus amplifying the previously described risk of establishing vertical fluid communication between the hydrocarbon zone with the shallower aquifers. The magnitude of these new risks are further increased by the new practice of horizontal drilling upon which shale fracking is ordinarily dependent. We should proceed cautiously and demand full oversight and disclosure of all chemicals injected.

  • Anonymous

    Protest confined to objection or ridicule is weakened by dereliction of exhaustive efforts to resolve the cause of the conflict; ironically undermining the suffering invested in the endeavor in a way that strengthens the resolve and influence of entities vested against ones’ protest.

    Rather than protesting oil extraction from shale, per se (and thereby abetting arguments
    supporting the “Drill Baby Drill [at any cost]” hysteria) advocating more vigorously
    proactive use of federal government oversight in the regulation of potential
    environmental hazards inherent to this and other modes of energy extraction and
    technologies of storage or transport of energy resources offers more salubrious

    Energy conservation efforts need not be made a source of conflict; vigorously
    advocating against reckless government oversight, e.g., by those who profit
    thru “Revolving Door” political practices, offer more efficient and
    comprehensive environmental gains and far greater potential for public support
    of more meaningful governmental accountability—to human (rather than to
    corporate) “persons’” concerns. A notable exemplar is that of “the
    Democrat-dominated [New York] State Assembly [which] approved a two-year moratorium on fracking from the state’s southern border with Pennsylvania to the Catskills until there is ‘conclusive scientific evidence’ on possible health and environmental risks.”

  • Paolo Bartolli

    Much has been left out of this piece about “Facts” on Fracking. A systemic approach has been applied to the business of hydraulic fracturing by the natural gas industry which has been infiltrating the geography of sea ports, inland terrain, politics, governance (local and national) all for the benefit of global market returns. The industry is far from benign; it is fraught with opaqueness, rough-trodden maneuvers, and community fragmentation. It takes from the land and the communities who reside upon it. Meanwhile, it gives little in return other than short term solutions that have little to offer in the way of long term global/communal health. The natural gas industry is not a solution to the burning of fossil fuels. It is a fossil fuel that maintains bad ecological habits and detracts from forward thinking technologies that utilize solar, wind, and tidal resources (not to mention the disruption of forward thinking policy-making that promotes the use of green technologies). We witnessed the destruction of landscapes and community health by the coal industry. Do we have to have to maintain this destructive legacy any further?

  • J Walter

    On top of the chemical intrusion, there is noise pollution. I object to this widespread industrialization of rural areas – there is nothing more destructive to one’s peace of mind than being in nature and hearing a motor of any kind – all of these drillling, pumps and trucks leave a very noisy footprint that extends far from the source. Call me a tree hugger, but blanketing the countryside with these noisemakers will ruin one its the best features.

  • Will Lipscomb

    If Bulgaria bans this practice that saying something. The energy could be a huge economic boost to a struggling country. Except they still live closer to nature without the infrastructure to handle the toxic waste. Could all those left over contamination from their time in the Eastern Block be giving some insight the companies and their paid shills, politicians, don’t want us to see.

  • h joyce thompson

    Ohio has been burying toxic waste from other states for years. Now you add fracking, our location on Lake Erie and Ohio river, and your asking for trouble. We felt the earthquake in the Carolinas last year in NE Ohio. first time that has happened in 75 years I have lived here.

  • Chris Love

    …don’t you wish there was a sarcasm font?

  • Karen W

    One thing I never see or hear mention of related to fracking is the amount of truck traffic involved with it. I live in a small, rural community in central Pennsylvania and, in addition to the worry about what fracking is doing to our water, ground, and air, we have sometimes hundreds of huge tanker trucks driving though the middle of our town every day causing huge amounts of noise, air pollution, and traffic congestion. They drive too fast, putting other drivers and pedestrians in danger. The drivers generally work up to 12 hours a day 7 days a week for 2 week stretches with a few days off in between. I understand they’re usually on-call on their days off, too. Water is being pumped out of our precious streams and rivers and some towns are selling their community drinking water from their wells and reservoirs to the companies using the water for fracking. I could just go on and on. Our lovely, quiet small town life has been ruined!

  • Herbert J Levinson

    Large scale fracking portends the destruction and pollution of the whole country’s freshwater supply. Not to mention the devastation of potential earthquakes, caused by greedy corporations. Do we really want that?

  • Chris Stead

    This is a better informed analysis that contains data left out of the article.

  • ccrider27

    The only reason we are spending $ billions to keep extracting fossil fuels is because that industry is by far the most profitable in the history of the world.

    Clearly we are sacrificing the future for all of us, our children and their children, in exchange for obscene profits for a few today.

    Currently Germany has solar capacity of 33 GW, and will produce all of its energy needs from solar by 2050. Total yield from solar power in the EU is currently 17.3 TW. Iceland, Norway, Brazil, Austria, New Zealand and Sweden all currently produce the majority of their energy needs from renewables.

    But in the US we continue to split hairs over the relative ‘merits’ of fossil fuels.

    Can we actually call ourselves a ‘civilized society?’

  • JfromHawaii

    WHAT THE FRACK !!! is going on???

  • Another reader

    Very biased story… I expected better.

  • Anonymous

    Gotta get them advertising dollars to keep rolling. This is a puff piece. A better story for Moyers and Co to follow would be the continued development of unconventional shale gas drilling in the Marcellus region amidst a century’s worth of abandoned oil and gas wells (drilling in PA since 1859 folks!) with their rusted out leaky casings providing easy access to the surface of all that crap they put down there at 15,000 PSI. The feds have been rendered powerless an the states turn a blind eye to the damage this industry has already done over the course of the last century and a half…mindlessly pretending that the messes they already have on their hands from these eco-terrorist energy giants can’t possibly be made any worse…

  • Justin G

    It is a shame that an editorial from the WSJ (read: non-objective, or not-journalism) was the source for the jobs created quote. A breakdown of how many of these jobs have gone to actual Pennsylvanians would go a long way to describing the reality of the industry which does far less for local economies to balance the harm that they do than is promised. I expect more from the writers at this Moyers website.

  • Stephenie Blakemore

    No fracking…learn to do more with less, before we have nothing

  • lighthearted1

    The question that remains is, are we willing to change our lifestyles? We are the consumers that these fracking companies are making profits from – so how do we cut back on the use of fossils fuels? What demands do we place on companies to provide us means of heating our homes in other ways? I sit here in a cool home with the only option for heat being the propane stove in winters where temperatures drop below 0. These processes are clearly unhealthy for people and planet, but when there’s profit to be made, profit will win because those who benefit feel justified. Supply & demand rules, so as conscious and radical consumers, what do we demand?

  • Burgie

    Enjoyed your progam, and as you may know here in Wyoming we have many problems with the Fracking causing all the water problems, (Wells, Creeks and springs) There was a law suit and the WY Supreme court ruled that the Oil/Engery companies had to realveal the chemicals in the fracking process, but the oil/Engry Companies have fought it on a “Trade Secret”, the law suites are still going on, althought our two Senators and Congressional Representive side with the OIL/ Energy Companires, guess where their money is coming from?

  • Anonymous

    The greater concern is what is in the fracking fluid AFTER it is used. The fluid picks up toxic and radioactive contaminants from the shale. That’s why you can find pictures of an oil executive drinking some fracking fluid.

  • Leon Duke

    Can you name the secret ingredients in Kentucky Fried Chicken? Didn’t think so! The formula is a secret…not deadly…not carcinogens… not evil…just a secret!

  • Clean in Y town

    The city of Youngstown Ohio will vote on keeping fracking out of the city, it’s watershed, and it’s park, this May 7th. See Please help.

  • hebintn

    You ever drive in coal mining areas? Get out of the way! Trucks over-full with coal will run you down.

  • hebintn

    It’s been said ad infinitum, but fossil fuels are wrecking our Earth. Coal… permantent surface wreckage, water pollution, health impacts. Oil… ocean destruction, water pollution, surface destruction. Gas… all of the above. And, of course, nothing has been said of the acceleration of global warming. The ONLY solution… transition to clean sustainable energy… NOW. In our corporatocracy demanding the fossil fuel industry clean up has proven useless.

  • FrackThat

    Perfect way to turn the east coast into a lifeless wasteland. …tada!!!

  • Alyce Walker

    I can’t find the source used by the WSJ for their assertion that 72,000 jobs were created in PA by hydrofracking, which I believe is patently false. Many of the people working here are out-of-state employees brought in by their out-of-state companies as evidenced by the ‘man camps’ that have sprung up in rural towns:

  • Sam

    I agree with the majority of comments already established: that this is hardly a just picture of the facts of fracking.

    One point of neglect is when talking about economics. There is no mention of the trade-offs being made between industries. For example, fracking comes at the expense of the economic vitality of farming and tourism industries.

    I would also like to see citations, especially on the part about the history of fracking. It is my understanding that chemicals were introduced to the process in the 1980s in the work that Schlumberger did with the DOE.

    Overall the article is sound, but is so cursory that it stands on very shaky foundations. Citations are a necessity as well as nuance, even if only to say, and it’s more complicated than this.

  • Red Cabbage

    “not deadly…not carcinogens.. not evil”

    Three strikes…..yer, ouwt!

  • John Champagne

    What is your point.

    Except for the fact that it is made of dead animals and we primates eat mostly plants to arrive at the best health outcomes, fried chicken is generally understood as food.

    Are you saying this mix of chemicals is like food? Sorry, why am I asking… You are being absurd.

    I need to go find that part of this site where we can join our efforts with others and make change happen….

    Our society, our politics and economics are out of line with our moral principles. We need to fix that.

    A sustainable and just civilization requires that we use our moral sense:

  • pdxracefan

    Everything on this site is biased. To the left.

  • Tony

    what are 2 benefits of fracking?

  • Psloves

    Well, if you want to get political, then how did Obama’s green energy initiative, Solyndra, work out for him? You know taxpayers funded a $500 million to them? The Obama Admin betrayed the American taxpayers when it dumped all that money on Solyndra, while ignoring clear warnings about the company’s dire financial situation. Obama had ties to Westly and Rogers, and the loan itself, so clearly, another case of crony capitalism. Yeah, Democrats do it too.

  • psloves

    The Obama administration should close the Halliburton loophole then. They champion green energy after all. Nothing is being done about it because big oil are a special interest lobby that keeps on giving to campaign contributions.

  • M Gilkey

    You are exactly right! I’m from West Virginia where the fracking regulations are lax and not enforced. The people in my community are dying as a result of the ongoing air and water pollution from the toxic fracking wastewater that gets hauled in from other states, like PA and Ohio which is literally dumped into large sediments located only a mile or so from our public schools. See for yourself by going to The WV DEP hasn’t done anything about it since it benefits the natural gas industry.

  • Anonymous

    You are going against nature ,when will you realise NO one can control nature , nature controls you , go against nature at your peril., if you continue it WILL end in DISASTER

    be warned I KNOW, they have run out of resources ,I said to the corporates many years ago, when the resources RUN OUT TRY EATING YOUR MONEY , YOUR TIME HAS COME , but so has the people that did not listen ,But other forces MAY help us???

  • Jamie Lawson

    1) Lower energy costs for middle class families, 2) Fewer greenhouse gases than alternative fossil fuel sources, 3) Less dependence on foreign energy imports, 4) Good paying jobs in regions of the country long suffering economic decline, 5) Reliable transitional while alternative renewable sources are being developed.

  • Jamie Lawson

    But “transition now” is an oxymoron. We quite clearly do not have the capability to generate sufficient power with renewables today or in the near future. If we tried, we would create environmental problems at least the equal of current mature fossil fuel technologies. Imagine the problems of suddenly requiring every home to have 1000 pounds of lead acid batteries. Fossil fuels are, unfortunately, a step along the path to sustainability. You get to pick your poison: coal, fracked gas, or imports.

  • Jamie Lawson

    Ultimately, the key is to demand nothing from large corporations. Why throw in the towel? We make choices. Our choices can ultimately shape business. We can choose to use less energy. We can choose to generate our own energy including pseudo-fossil fuels like biodeisel, and we can choose to get our energy from global markets. A few percent change here and there in that mix makes a huge impact. Fracked gas makes up only 25% of US gas production and yet it has had a much bigger impact than that on domestic gas prices, which are one way to impact corporations.

  • Anonymous

    Pa has hundreds if not thousands of drill sites. When all this began we were told how much we would benefit from cheaper oil and gas prices. Has anyone’s gas or oil gone down. More smoke blown up our collective asses.

  • Anonymous

    Your telling me your gas bills have gone down? How about oil? I don’t know where you live but here in Pa, we have hundreds of drill sites if not more. My gas bill has gone up every year. My oil for my heat has gone up. Where’s the lower cost? Here’s the real cost. Polluting the drinking water, loping off the tops of mountains to get to the coal easier. Doesn’t matter that they destroy thousands of years of mountains and trees, it makes for faster profits. Then there’s the water that catches on fire. How beneficial is that? You can cook your dinner and wash your plates at the same time. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted a fireplace in my kitchen sink. Reliable transition while alternative renewable sources are being developed??? When was the last time you heard a honest real discussion on renewal energy? The oil and coal industry are behind all the resistance to renewal energy, Forget that it’s safer and cleaner for us, it’s taking away profit for them.

  • Anonymous

    and a secret ingredient in Kentucky Fried Chicken relates to this how?

  • Anonymous

    agreed, we lived without it before. It won’t last forever. And when it’s gone, and no one moved to take renewal energy seriously, we’ll be screwed. The rest of the world that does use renewal energy will be laughing at us.

  • Anonymous

    You nailed it. We are sacrificing the future of our children for the obscene profits of the few. We’re also destroying mountains that are thousands of years old if not more. Our politicians whored out our state for chump change. When they’ve gotten all they can get, they will pack up and move on to the next state with a bribeable politician, the politicians who helped screw it up will leave office and move away, Why would they stay in such a polluted chewed up state? He’ll then work as a lobbyist for the very people who destroyed the state he represented. That’s when you hear them say “America is the greatest country in the world”. I guess so.

  • Anonymous

    Not to mention what it’s doing to the beautiful mountains. Loping off the tops of mountains, mountains that have been here forever. It’s mutilating the beautiful country side, something that can’t be fixed

  • ObiWanKenobi

    Put your money where your mouth is. You’re complaining about your energy costs and how bad things are for the environment and touting “renewable energy” but you’re not using it. What sense does that make? Why aren’t ou complaining about how the green mafia are driving up the costs of “renewable” energy? Hypocrites.

  • ObiWanKenobi

    72,000 jobs = 72,000 jobs. Doesn’t matter where the people come from.

  • Anonymous

    Well genius, I would put my money into renewable energy IF IT WERE AVAILABLE as an alternative to oil and gasoline. Why aren’t you telling congress to put their money where their mouth is, THEY are the ones who kept telling us how much cheaper our gas would be if we just drilled some more….but i guess you don’t have what it takes to take them on, come after me instead….weakling.

  • ObiWanKenobi

    You have to be kidding me. You’re going to pretend you can’t buy solar panels? You can’t setup a solar water heater? Typical useless liberal. E V E R Y T H I N G must be done for you. You don’t know what it takes to get anything done or how to sustain yourself. Not even with thousands of available resources with simple keystrokes. And you call me a weakling. Get back to blowing your brother.

  • Anonymous

    It would be nice if the anti-fracking folks would actually use science and not emotions to state their claims. A number of studies have been conducted over the last 60 years on the process and none of them have found any of the major complaints of the environmental community to be valid. Does the possiblity exist of all thes crazy claims, yes it does, but every study has stated that the posibilities are very small.
    Doomsday providers unless you have proof please lower the noise level.

  • Salvatore

    John…As an environmental scientist I would not expect an average Joe as yourself to fully understand any complex situation, however please do research before you make statements and look at the science that is out there. Look at these studies over the last 60 years you speak of and check their credibility, funding, and who was involved. Also maybe take a look at a map of the recent history of tectonic activity in Ohio where the waste is discharged into the ground. I think you will learn a lot and maybe your thoughts will gain some credibility once you know the scientific truths rather than the fuel companies misrepresentations of science. Cheers.

  • Kathy

    Watch “Split Estate” about Colorado’s experience with fracking.

  • Peter W

    Fracking is criminal pillage of the environment, and constitutes a crime against humanity. I sincerely believe that fracking corporations and the lobbyists and politicians and EPA administrators who allow this destructive practice to proceed should pay with their lives. They’re nothing more than capital criminals.

  • TJ

    Please all you experts out there, please explain how “fracking” a well that is 10,000 feet deep contaminates your 300ft water table? This is non-sense!!! And…. What are you going to drive? What is YOUR alternative. I do quite enjoy your fake outrage, and soemthing you know absolutely NOTHING about!!!

  • Anonymous

    you know what is sad. People like you could not survive without oil and gas …. and without Hydraulic fracturing there is no gas.

  • Peter W

    What’s really sociopathic — who gives a s/ about “sad” — is your completely unsubstantiated position that “people like you” (you think you know who I am? Guess again, Sherlock!) “could not survive without oil and gas…”. Think about that for a moment. We can tolerate pollution of earth and water for the sake of corporate profits, but we “can’t live” without the substances that are annihilating the environment and poisoning people. You, sir, are not only a sociopath, but a completely dimwitted shill. You have “gas” in your head.

  • Peter W

    CD, instead of calling into question Salvatore’s personal credentials, why don’t you provide something of substance to refute his testimony, and as well, to refute the numerous studies on environmental quality and human health issues that are correlated with fracking. Do you honestly think that corporations use “objective” scientific methods to demonstrate the safety of their products and practices? Indeed, your screen name is apt!

  • Anonymous

    To Salvadore and Peter W.

    If you are serious about this cause (doubtful) use scientific data and facts (none exist) to make your argument not your social agenda and feelings.

    Disclaimer: I am a data analyst by profession that have worked on 3 differant Fracking studies 1 Fed (EPA), 1 State (Montana) and 1 county. I have seen the raw and honest data before the hack of the are the environmental scientist and environmental community nit picked or twisted them to meet their agenda. To me the data and facts are everything not some hacks interpretation of a small selected segment.

  • moderator

    This is certainly an issue that raises passions, but please avoid personal attacks. If you cannot you will be unable to participate in the community.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    “The scientific truth is irrefutable says Ingraffea: “Fluid migration from faulty wells is a well-known chronic problem with an expected rate of occurrence.” Inadequate well construction and monitoring remains a persistent industry problem.”

    Fracked wells leak anywhere from 5% to 50% (on older wells).

    Here is an article from Schlumberger, describing how wells leak –

    TJ, you might want to take 5 min and google “fracking well casing failure”.

  • Anonymous

    France banned fracking in 2001….

  • Steve Haroldson

    Marcellus shale field contains enough gas to power the U.S. for fifty years, but that’s not what they’re doing with it. They’re selling it to the rest of the world. Other countries get the gas, the oil and mining companies get the profits, and the U.S. citizenry gets the headaches and the tax bills for clean up…..

  • Themon the Bard

    1) Assuming this isn’t bogus math, like what happened in CA, where the estimates were 25 times larger than reality, there may BE enough NG to power the US for 50 years, but how much of that can be extracted at reasonable prices? There’s an ocean of oil under the north polar ice cap, but there’s no way to get to it and turn a profit. As soon as it stops turning a profit, fracking will stop. That isn’t fifty years away. Is it ten? Maybe. Five? More like it. So is the mess worth five years of NG?

    2) Best case, what happens in fifty years? I realize this is all about quick profits and then get out of town, so the industry answer is, “Who cares?” but fifty years is well within the lifetime of my grandchildren. They’ll have a major cleanup job, and no benefit of any sort whatsoever. How does this make sense?

  • Anonymous

    My primary concern is water. As the planet warms, water supplies will diminish and this water CANNOT be recycled for human needs. Already in my county (Larimer) we have seen oil and gas companies inflating the price of water by outbidding farmers for water. THE water used by farmers is completly recycled and returned to the earth. The water used for fracking is lost forever,

  • Themon the Bard

    That’s when the company doing the work is reputable.

    I was recently reading a Wyoming regional newspaper quoting ranchers who had bad experiences with the companies that came in, drilled, extracted, pocketed the money, and then went out of business. In many cases, they didn’t even bother to cap the wells, which are still releasing NG into the open air. It’s anyone’s guess where they dumped the fracking fluids.

  • Timothy Banks

    In order to meet the energy demands that fossil fuels do the solar industry would produce so many tons of toxic waste like heavy metals in the manufacturing process that right now they have problems dealing with, that Love Canal would look like a driveway oil spill. Solar is not as “Green” as reported.

  • Timothy Banks

    Then lets see you give up your car, home heat, all the tech toys you own like the computer that let you make your holier than thou comment.

  • Timothy Banks

    In order to meet the energy demands that fossil fuels do the solar industry would produce so many tons of toxic waste like heavy metals in the manufacturing process that right now they have problems dealing with, that Love Canal would look like a driveway oil spill. Solar is not as “Green” as reported.

  • Doug Russell


  • Doug Russell

    Solynda did not work out, as do many new startups. That being said the Dept of Energy program that loaned Sloynda money is in the black to a tune of $5 billion fiscal 2013. Look it up. No wonder not a peep about this topic has come up in weeks since the reports release.

  • Bob W.

    Because the wells go through the water table.(DUH!) BTW, a fracking well has a life expectancy of 15 years. All bets are off w/regard to ground water contamination when these wells start to fail.-And they will.

  • Bob W.

    You cannot drink oil. Fracking destroys our precious ground water.

  • Bob W.

    Psssttt!!!!!! ……The fracked gas is going overseas. The U.S. already has huge reserves of natural gas W/O fracking.
    This is a money grab that does not benefit Americans, but DOES RUIN our precious ground water.

  • Bob W.

    I see an awful lot of Texas license plates around upper PA., and the Southern Tier of N.Y. State.
    Jobs for locals? Not happening.

  • Bob W.

    Leon: Go drink some fracking fluid,and then get back to us…

  • Jamie Lawson

    There was a plan to build an export hub in Maryland to export gas from the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale. I don’t think construction on that plant has begun. Regardless, once it’s in the pipeline it’s pretty hard to distinguish fracked gas from other natural gas, the majority of which is used domestically.

  • Jamie Lawson

    The mythology around Tesla is, well, apocryphal. He was a bit of a lunatic and many of the things he said were simply wrong. For instance, he thought he was an alien from another planet. That claim probably goes in the same category as unlimited energy. As for hemp replacing petroleum, we’ve been trying to do that with corn for a long time now. Success has been limited.

  • Anonymous

    Do you have any data to support that or is that just industry talking points?

  • Anonymous

    Electric car. Geothermal heating. Solar electricity. Wind generated electricity (big in the rural areas around me). Bicycle when weather is good. You CAN live without gas and oil.

  • Anonymous

    Again, substantiate your comments.

  • Jamie Lawson

    I would quarrel with your reply to my post. The question was to identify any benefits of fracking. There are some. In fact there are many. I identified a few. There are also serious downsides. The “weaklings” in the debate are those who fail to read both sides of the ledger. If the question had been “Identify any problems with fracking” I could have come up with a list for that as well. Fracking is a particularly touchy problem because there are significant upsides and downsides, and the environment it takes place in is complex. If fracked gas displaces coal use, that’s probably a win. It causes some destruction of the local environment, but anyone who has been to Centralia, PA knows that coal can be a lot worse for the community. And natural gas is probably not as bad for the climate as coal, even with methane seepage. But if resources that would otherwise target renewables are instead used for fracking, that’s a net loser. We can’t rely on carbon-based fuels indefinitely.

  • riverrat

    Agreed, water is being contaminated at an alarming rate. However, it is not just corporations that are guilty of this. No process exists to remove chemicals from wastewater. This means that every detergent, cleaning agent and pharmaceutical that is flushed down the drains in our homes are also contaminating our water supply. We are all guilty of contaminating our water every time we clean our toilets and do our dishes. The phosphorous present in soap creates algae blooms and depletes oxygen, not to mention the effects of the harsh chemicals in toilet bowl cleaner. The millions of gallons of water these corporations contaminate will probably pale in comparison to the trillions of gallons of water the general population contaminates daily. I am glad to see regulations requiring them to recycle their brine for other wells. At least that is a step in the right direction.

  • Gerald Mosley

    Drill baby drill
    – Once the ground water is contaminated you cant fix it.
    – Corporations will not be there to fix roads or bridges after an earthquake.
    – Corporation will not fix buildings or schools after earthquakes.
    – Once we figure out what the damages are – Corporations will be foreign entities like Halliburton.

    So – drill away ..

  • Bob W.

    B.S. The United States already has HUGE natural gas reserves W/O fracking.

  • Anonymous

    that’s why they buy their gas

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    you have no clue ….do you. Look up all the things that are made with methane and oil then crawl back into your hole…..because without those two that’s where we would be living… a cave

  • Anonymous

    I’ll take that challenge. I have the experience and the knowledge.

  • Anonymous

    He doesn’t have to refute those past studies. Everyone of them to date has fallen apart on their on fruition. They have all been proven baseless.

  • Anonymous

    it dropped 50% in the last 5 years. Look at your bill.

  • Anonymous

    the sky is falling….the sky is falling

  • Anonymous

    natural gas and oil….that’s two

  • Anonymous

    there is no gas without fracking

  • Anonymous

    there is no difference. All natural gas in this country comes from fractured wells.

  • Anonymous

    not so. Halliburton, Superior, Range and several others use out of state employees until they can train local new hires. It’s not exactly a job you just walk into. It requires training

  • Anonymous

    tell us….do you know how to operate high pressure pumpers and multi stage blending units? How about a deep zone seismic wireline device? Takes time to train so out of state employees are used till locals are trained

  • Anonymous

    as soon as you mentioned global warming you lost credibility. This earth is cleaner now than in the last 150 years. Yet we produce more energy than ever before.

  • Anonymous

    This earth is cleaner now than in the last 150 years. Yet we produce more energy than ever before.

  • Anonymous

    Youngstown voted down the fracking ban after EPA and Dept of environmental resources could not and did not find one viable or realistic issue against fracking

  • moderator

    To the community,

    If you personally insult other members of the community, your comments will be deleted and you will be unable to post in the future.


  • Jamie Lawson

    True, at least in a sense. Put the stuff in the pipe and you can’t tell what kind of well it came from. But the Maryland site was picked to be close to Pennsylvania.

  • Ctaj

    Water evaporates in its purest form as H20, leaving salts and contaminants behind, and returns as rainfall or snow. Mother Nature’s natural filtering process.

    There isn’t and never will be a shortage of water. Most of the Earth is covered with it. We know how to desalinate, and the cost of doing it has dropped dramatically. The problem we have in the Mountain West is that it’s still fairly expensive to move desalinated water uphill from the sea coasts. It’s not a matter of lack of water, it’s a matter of what we’re wiling to pay to get it to where we want it.

    It’s a problem unique to the West, because if you’ve spent much time back East, you know they have plenty of it.

    I used to travel regularly to Portland along I-84, which runs alongside the Columbia River, which dumps an average of 265,000 cubic feet per second of fresh water into the Pacific Ocean. Be the guy who invents a cost-effective way to siphon most of that wasted water back to Colorado, or to California, and the world will beat a path to your door.

    We let most of the water from our melting mountain snows escape Colorado. The logical solution to that is more reservoirs, but the same environmentalists who complain about the lack of water in Colorado also oppose this logical solution. We’re the only state in the union that doesn’t have any rivers flowing into it.

  • Bob W.

    You know what is sad. People like you who would destroy an irreplaceable resource to make a few lousy bucks.

  • Bob W.

    Right, Ace. The U.S. has nearly 400 trillion cubic feet of NG right now. There is no point in polluting ground water to go after exaggerated estimates of shale gas recovery.