By Wil & Angela Stanton – Preserve the NRV
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting huge amounts of water (2 – 9 million gallons), sand, and a secret blend of chemicals (some believed to be highly toxic and carcinogenic) deep into the earth to fracture the shale in order to bring gas to the surface.
The primary locations for today’s fracking is in Marcellus Shale in West Virginia (where EQT proposes drilling and sending their fracking gas our way), Pennsylvania, and New York; and the Utica Shale in New York and Ohio.
There are three major costs and associated dangers with Fracking for natural gas.
Water Required. Fracking requires huge quantities of fresh water. Fracking will require many billions of gallons of water over the next 15 years. This water can be drawn from lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, ponds, and wells. Because the water becomes contaminated, it may never be returned to the watershed. But it has to go somewhere!
Fracking Fluids. Most of the recent advances in fluid for shale gas recovery are owned by Halliburton – remember the Halliburton Loophole. Halliburton will not disclose exactly what’s in the fracking fluids because they are “proprietary”. However, samples from well blowouts and fluids pits have found a witches brew of ingredients including diesel fuel and more than 200 different kinds of chemicals, over 95% of which have adverse side effects including brain damage, birth defects and cancer. (Source: Analysis of Chemicals Used in Natural Gas Production: Colorado, Theo Colborn, PhD, February 6, 2008).
One of the major criticism of fracking is the fact that the 2005 Energy Policy Act exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act– the “Halliburton Loophole”. How and why could our legislators have excluded something as potentially harmful as this from the Safe Drinking Water Act?
Fluids Disposal. Roughly half the fracking fluid remains in the ground. The rest of it (1 to 4 million gallons per drilling) comes up and out of the well and is considered industrial waste and must be disposed of. Not only does the water contain the fracking fluid, it also picks up hydrocarbons, heavy metals like arsenic, and radioactivity from the shale. Billions of gallons of waste water will be produced and will need to be trucked to a final disposal site. The most common method of disposal will be Deep Well Injection Disposal, where the waste is forced underground at high pressure into dry gas wells. (Source: Draft Scoping Document for Horizontal Drilling and High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing to Develop Shale and Other Low Permeability Gas Reservoirs, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 2008).
However, there has been some discussion of putting the wastewater from Marcellus Shale fracking in WV in abandoned coal mines in WV and perhaps in Virginia. There are caves and streams intersecting many of the coal mines. Placing any wastewater there would be disastrous to the earth and humankind.
Here is a list of risk and concerns of fracking found in both scientific and public sources:
- Contamination of groundwater
- Methane pollution and its impact on climate change
- Air pollution impacts
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Blowouts due to gas explosion
- Waste disposal
- Large volume of water use in water-deficient regions
- Fracking-induced earthquakes
- Workplace safety
- Infrastructure degradation
We must stop the fracking. If fracking is the head and gas pipelines are the body, then cutting off the head will kill the body – without fracking we would not have the proposed pipelines coming through our area.
If you want to know more – and you should – there are a couple of great reports: “Fracking by the Numbers: Key Impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level” and “The Costs of Fracking: The Price Tag of Dirty Drilling’s Environmental Damage” both produced by Environment America.
Two nice Native American quotes:
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
Take care of mother earth – we owe her our life
- Hydraulic Fracturing: What is Hydraulic Fracturing, ProPublica, Journalism in the Public Interest http://www.propublica.org/special/hydraulic-fracturing
- Safety First, Fracking Second, Scientific American, by the Editors, 12 October, 2011 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=safety-first-fracking-second
- Potential Health and Environmental Effects of Hydrofracking in the Williston Basin, Montana, by Joe Hoffman, Geology and Human Health, http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/hydrofracking_w.html
- What goes in and out of Hydraulic Fracturing http://www.dangersoffracking.com/
- Drilling 101, Shaleshock.org. http://shaleshock.org/drilling-101/
- Calculations based on water withdrawal rates by companies operating in Pennsylvania. Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Bucknell University, September 11, 2008 http://www.srbc.net/programs/projreviewmarcellus.htm
- Hydraulic Fracturing 101, Earth Works http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/hydraulic_fracturing_101#.VCcuRPldVv0
- Fracking by the Numbers: Key Impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level http://www.environmentamerica.org/sites/environment/files/reports/EA_FrackingNumbers_scrn.pdf
- The Costs of Fracking: The Price Tag of Dirty Drilling’s Environmental Damage http://www.environmentamerica.org/sites/environment/files/reports/The%20Costs%20of%20Fracking%20vUS.pdf
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