Fracking

Fracking is a safe and innovative way to harness otherwise inaccessible shale gas as a form of incredibly efficient energy.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a decades old well completion technology that is often coupled with horizontal drilling to develop oil and natural gas resources from tight rock formations. Fracking occurs after drilling has been completed and involves pumping fluid — typically 99 percent water and sand, with an additional mixture of chemical additives — into the target formation at pressure in order to open up small fractures in the rock, which allow oil and gas to flow out of these tight formations.

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Counter-Points

Counter-Point  Fracking is an incredibly innovative way to access shale gas that would otherwise be unusable as a form of incredibly efficient energy. In May 2011, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told the U.S. Senate that she wasn’t aware “of any proven case where the fracking process itself affected water.” Drilling a natural gas well is not an endeavor without risk. Neither is crossing the street. The key question is: are those risks manageable? And in the case of natural gas, are regulations in place to ensure those risks are being managed in the proper way?
Counter-Point  Fracking is an earthquake. It’s a pretty poor frac job that doesn’t create one. What’s important is to ensure you understand the geology where the frac is being conducted to ensure the earthquake is contained. The truth is, fracking-induced earthquakes that can be felt on the surface are very rare, and tend to occur in regions with faults or other geological instabilities. These risks can be mitigated by comprehensive analysis and geological mapping of the affected region, to avoid fracking in areas that are unstable.


Counter-Point 

Not really. The amount of water required for fracking pales in comparison with agriculture and other industries.

Popular Mechanics notes that natural gas production in Pennsylvania uses 1.9 million gallons of water a day – a drop in the bucket compared with the 62 million gallons a day consumed by livestock, the 96 million gallons used for mining, and the 770 million consumed daily by industry.

Plus, as Energy In Depth points out, fracking companies are bound by “tight regulations [which] guarantee proper use and disposal of all water that is used,” and much of the water used in fracking is recycled.


Counter-Point 

When you mention fracking, a lot of people think of the scene in GasLand where a homeowner’s tap water combusts when exposed to open flame. Of course, as Popular Mechanics notes, that phenomenon was NOT caused by fracking; a government investigation concluded that “the homeowner’s own water well had been drilled into a naturally occurring pocket of methane.”

While there have been isolated cases of methane deposits near fracking sites getting into groundwater, these incidents were caused by improper well construction, and can be avoided by using proper materials like “stronger cement and processing casings.”

The Canadian energy industry is the best in the world at responsible resource development, ensuring we can harvest the energy we need while protecting our communities and the natural environment we cherish


Counter-Point 

Multiple studies have shown that “emissions from oil and gas development” do not pose any major risk to public health. Energy In Depth has compiled 18 of these studies here. Most notably, a 2017 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) analysis of “over 10,000 air samples in parts of Colorado with ‘substantial’ oil and gas operations” found that negative health effects from exposure were unlikely, in both the short-term and the long-term.

 The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment released a 2017 report that found a “low risk of harmful health effects from combined exposure to all substances during oil and gas development.” In contrast, many of the most headline-grabbing studies linking fracking to health issues have been plagued by questionable methodologies and contradictory results.

It is also important to note that 99 percent of the fluid used for fracking is composed of water and sand. A small fraction of what remains includes many common industrial and even household materials that millions of American consumers use every day. By both weight and volume, the most prominent of these materials is a substance known as “guar,” which is an emulsifying agent more typically found in ice cream. Other additives include surfactants, which are similar to dish soap, and compounds that prevent bacteria from forming in the well bore.

Reputable third-party experts such as the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and International Energy Agency (IEA) all agree that natural gas maintains a climate benefit over other traditional fuel sources, even at leakage rates far greater than what is currently documented.

Studies

Talking Oil and Gas

Title: Talking Oil and Gas Author: Trican Well Services Publisher:Trican Well Services Date: 2015 Full Article Here Summary: Trican Well Services presents an overviwew of its hydraulic fracturing operations and provides answers to many of the common concerns that the general public has about fracking. Such concerns include: -Methane in drinking water -Concerns

Attacks on hydraulic fracturing in B.C. defy settled science

Title: Attacks on hydraulic fracturing in B.C. defy settled science Author: Kenneth P. Green Publisher: Fraser Institute / Vancouver Province Date: November 16, 2017 Full Text Article Summary: Dozens of scientific reviews have concluded that fracking, when done properly, is safe. Namely, there is little likelihood of groundwater contamination as a result of fracking, the

Elevated Methane Levels from Biogenic Coalbed Gas in Ohio Drinking Water Wells near Shale Gas Extraction

Title: Elevated Methane Levels from Biogenic Coalbed Gas in Ohio Drinking Water Wells near Shale Gas Extraction Author: Elizabeth Claire Botner, B.S. Environmental Science, Georgetown College, 2013 Publisher: Master’s Thesis submitted to the University of Cincinnati Department of Geology Date: July 19, 2015 Full Text Article Summary: Based on analysis of 27 private drinking water wells

Debunking GasLand Part 1

Title: Debunking GasLand Part 1 Author: Energy In Depth Publisher: Energy In Depth Date: 2010 Full Report Here Summary: Debunking GasLand: Josh Fox makes his mainstream debut with documentary targeting natural gas – but how much of it is actually true?

Managing the Risks of Hydraulic Fracturing: An Update

Title: Managing the Risks of Hydraulic Fracturing: An Update Author: Kenneth P. Green and Taylor Jackson Publisher: Fraser Institute Date: October 2015 Full Text Article Summary: Activist groups continue to oppose hydraulic fracturing, a new application of old technologies that is unlocking vast supplies of oil and natural gas in the United States and

Health and Well-ness: Analysis of Key Public Health Indicators in Six of the Most Heavily Drilled Marcellus Shale Counties in Pennsylvania

Title: Health and Well-ness: Analysis of Key Public Health Indicators in Six of the Most Heavily Drilled Marcellus Shale Counties in Pennsylvania Author: Susan E. Mickley, MPH Freelance Health Research Consultant Lehigh Valley Publisher: Energy In-Depth Date: December 2017 Full Text Article Summary: This report reviews mortality rates by selected major causes of death,

Debunking GasLand Part 2

Title: Debunking GasLand Part 2 Author: Energy In Depth Publisher: Energy In Depth Date: 2013 Full Report Here Summary:Three years after the release of Gasland – a film panned by independent observers as “fundamentally dishonest” and a “polemic” – the main challenge for director Josh Fox in releasing Gasland Part II was manifest:

Managing the Risks of Hydraulic Fracturing

Title: Managing the Risks of Hydraulic Fracturing Author: Kenneth P. Green Publisher: Fraser Institute Date: December 2014 Full Text Article Summary: Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a relatively new application of several old technologies used in oil and gas extraction that has made it possible to unlock large quantities of natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons—fuels

Managing the Risks of Hydraulic Fracturing: An Update

Title: Managing the Risks of Hydraulic Fracturing: An Update Author: Kenneth P. Green and Taylor Jackson Publisher: Fraser Institute Date: October 2015 Full Text Article Summary: Activist groups continue to oppose hydraulic fracturing, a new application of old technologies that is unlocking vast supplies of oil and natural gas in the United States and

Impact of Shale Gas Development on Regional Water Quality

Title:  Impact of Shale Gas Development on Regional Water Quality Author: R.D. Vidic, S.L. Brantley, J.M. Vandenbossche, D. Yoxtheimer, and J.D. Abad Publisher: Science magazine (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Date: May 17, 2013 Full Text Article Summary: Natural gas is a clean energy source with the potential to reduce global emissions by

Gas Opportunities for Atlantic Canada

Title: Gas Opportunities for Atlantic Canada Author: Andrew Pickford Publisher: Atlantic Institute for Market Studies Date: February 2016 Full Text Article Summary: The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) has produced a report on the potential for Atlantic Canada to capitalize on the golden age of gas. The report, authored by Andrew Pickford, examines

DEBUNK: Major Research Gaps in New Groundwater Study

Title: Major Research Gaps in New Groundwater Study Author: Katie Brown, PhD Publisher: Energy In Depth Date: May 26, 2015 Full Text Article Summary: Energy In Depth finds major gaps in the Llewellyn et. al study “Evaluating a groundwater supply contamination incident attributed to Marcellus Shale gas development,” which had attempted to attribute water

Analysis: Methane Emission Intensity Decline In Top Shale Basins

Title: Analysis: Methane Emission Intensity Decline In Top Shale Basins Author: Energy In Depth Publisher: Energy In Depth Date: April 25th, 2019 Full Article Here Summary: Increased natural gas consumption has generated a truly incredible story for the environment as U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have fallen to their lowest levels since 1992. -Methane emissions from onshore

Attacks on hydraulic fracturing in B.C. defy settled science

Title: Attacks on hydraulic fracturing in B.C. defy settled science Author: Kenneth P. Green Publisher: Fraser Institute / Vancouver Province Date: November 16, 2017 Full Text Article Summary: Dozens of scientific reviews have concluded that fracking, when done properly, is safe. Namely, there is little likelihood of groundwater contamination as a result of fracking, the

DEBUNK: Six Flaws In A New Report Trying To Link Fracking To Infant Health Issues

Title: Six Flaws In A New Report Trying To Link Fracking To Infant Health Issues Author: Seth Whitehead Publisher: Energy In Depth Date: December 13, 2017 Full Text Article Summary: Energy In Depth fact-checked a misleading report attempting to link fracking to negative health impacts on infants. The study, “authored by researchers from Princeton University,