Last updated on: 9/24/2020 | Author: ProCon.org

Should the US Use Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) to Extract Natural Gas?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Umair Irfan, Vox staff writer, in a Feb. 19, 2020 article, “The best case for and against a fracking ban,” available at vox.com, stated:

“Activists have pushed the candidates to address fracking — which involves pumping high pressure water, sand, and other chemicals into a rock formation to create fractures that can release trapped oil and gas — because it has radically reshaped the US economic, energy, political, and environmental landscape.

It’s turned the United States into the largest oil producer in the world. It helped pull the country out of a recession. It’s created boomtowns flush with cash in once sparsely populated parts of the country. At the same time, fracking has led to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

Wastewater injection from fracking wells has also caused a spike in earthquakes. It has caused local air quality and safety problems. And while they’re cleaner than coal, oil and gas from fracking are still fossil fuels.

For policymakers, the difficult choice is deciding whether the benefits outweigh the harm, and if fuels from fracking can be a stepping stone toward cleaner energy.”

BBC in an Oct. 15, 2018 article, “What Is Fracking and Why Is It Controversial?,”available at bbc.com, stated,

“Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock… Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

The process can be carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer, which can create new pathways to release gas or used to extend existing channels.

The term fracking refers to how the rock is fractured apart by the high-pressure mixture…

The extensive use of fracking in the US, where it has revolutionised the energy industry, has prompted environmental concerns.

Fracking uses huge amounts of water, which must be transported to the site at significant environmental cost.

As well as earth tremor concerns, environmentalists say potentially carcinogenic chemicals may escape during drilling and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site.

The industry suggests pollution incidents are the results of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.

Campaigners say fracking is distracting energy firms and governments from investing in renewable sources of energy, and encouraging continued reliance on fossil fuels.”

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) wrote in its May 2009 report “Water Resources and Natural Gas Production from the Marcellus Shale” on the USGS website:

“Natural gas is an abundant, domestic energy resource that burns cleanly, and emits the lowest amount of carbon dioxide per calorie of any fossil fuel… [N]atural gas resources in the United States are important components of a national energy program that seeks both greater energy independence and greener sources of energy…

While the technology of drilling directional boreholes, and the use of sophisticated hydraulic fracturing processes to extract gas resources from tight rock have improved over the past few decades, the knowledge of how this extraction might affect water resources has not kept pace. Agencies that manage and protect water resources could benefit from a better understanding of the impacts that drilling and stimulating… wells might have on water supplies, and a clearer idea of the options for wastewater disposal.”

May 2009 - United States Geological Survey (USGS)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) wrote in its Nov. 3, 2011 publication “Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources” at the EPA website:

“Hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation technique used to maximize production of oil and natural gas in unconventional reservoirs, such as shale, coalbeds, and tight sands. During hydraulic fracturing, specially engineered fluids containing chemical additives and proppant [sand, ceramic, or other particulates] are pumped under high pressure into the well to create and hold open fractures in the formation. These fractures increase the exposed surface area of the rock in the formation and, in turn, stimulate the flow of natural gas or oil to the wellbore.”

Nov. 3, 2011 - United States Department of Energy (DOE)

PRO (yes)

Pro

J. Winston Porter, PhD, national energy and environmental consultant and former Assistant Administrator of the EPA, in a Mar. 16, 2020 article, “Banning Fracking, Bad Idea,” available at thehill.com, stated:

“Launched in 2005, a combination of fracking and horizontal drilling has been hugely successful in the United States. Specifically, fracking has made America energy independent of foreign gas and oil. Even better, fracking produces cleaner gas to replace coal as a fuel to make electricity…

What’s more, the rise of gas in energy production is the reason why the U.S. is reducing carbon emissions faster than any other country…

Natural gas has half the carbon content of coal. A shift from coal to gas in electricity production has reduced carbon emissions to mid-1990s levels. Without an abundance of inexpensive gas due to fracking, the transition to cleaner burning gas never would have happened. Additionally, the growth of solar and wind power would have been slowed because natural gas is needed as a backup source of power…

Fracking is on track to make the U.S. the world’s largest oil and gas exporter. This has benefited the U.S. balance of trade and enhanced our nation’s energy security.

Geopolitically, production from fracking has provided Europe with an alternative to Russian natural gas and put a brake on Vladimir Putin’s efforts to dominate Europe politically and economically. Meanwhile, gas exports to Asia have enabled China and India to reduce carbon emissions and the use of coal in some heavily polluted cities.”

Pro

Mark P. Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, in a Nov. 8, 2019 article, “How To Trigger A Global Recession In One Easy Step: Ban Fracking,” available at realclearenergy.org, stated:

“The United States used to be the world’s biggest importer of oil. Now, for the first time since 1949, the U.S. is a net exporter of petroleum thanks to fracking technology. America’s new role in global energy markets has already blunted others using energy as a geopolitical weapon.

So, what would happen if America’s next president were to make good on a promise to ban fracking? We know the answer.

Enthusiasms for alternatives aside, solar and wind combined supply less than 2 percent of world energy, while 54 percent still comes from oil and natural gas. Many analysts have pointed to the domestic jobs and revenues that will be lost were America to shut down fracking. But that’s the least of it. Far more significant: removing that quantity of fuel from world markets would trigger the biggest energy price spike in history, and a global recession.

We know that because history has witnessed the effect of similar amounts of oil suddenly taken from markets for political reasons. During the infamous 1973 Arab oil embargo, a share of oil trade comparable to what a frack-ban would cause, was taken off the market by the Saudis. That episode drove world oil prices up over 350% and triggered a global recession. Again in 1979, a similar loss to energy markets happened when Iran’s Mullahs revolted and that nation’s exports collapsed. That event caused a 200% global price spike and triggered another recession…

It is magical thinking to believe that shale production could be replaced quickly by wind and solar – at any price, and regardless of climate change motivations. To put this in perspective: since 2007, American fracking technology has added 500 percent more energy to markets than have all of the planet’s wind and solar farms combined.”

Pro

Kevin D. Williamson, conservative commentator, in a Sep. 22, 2019 article, “More Fracking, or More War?,” available at news.yahoo.com, stated:

“The high-tech method of mining shale formations for oil and gas colloquially known as ‘fracking’ — though hydraulic fracturing is only a part of it — has been a game-changer for more than one game. While countries such as Germany set headline-grabbing, politics-driven carbon-reduction targets only to woefully fail to achieve them (it is very difficult to greenwash 170 million tons of brown coal), the United States has been relatively successful on that front, reducing energy-related carbon emissions by 14 percent from 2005 to 2017, thanks to natural gas; put another way, fracking has helped the United States to what climate activists ought to consider one of its greatest environmental victories.

When the United States intensified its attention to the Middle East in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the country was heavily dependent on petroleum imports. Today, the United States is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum — thanks to fracking. The pointy-headed guys in the Washington war rooms spend a lot less time worrying about whether tankers can get through the Strait of Hormuz these days. And that means the United States has a much more free hand — and more realistic options — when dealing with Riyadh, Tehran, or any of the other pits of vipers that pass for national capitals in that part of the world…

If you want less war, then you should want a lot more fracking.”

Pro

Mark Green, Editor at American Petroleum Institute, in a Feb 21, 2020 article, “The Crippling Costs Of A Fracking Ban,” available at api.org, stated:

“Ending the technology most responsible for the U.S. energy revolution – as proposed by some politicians – would harm millions of Americans and weaken the nation’s security…

With 95% of new natural gas and oil wells developed with hydraulic fracturing, a ban on fracking most likely would end U.S. global leadership in natural gas and oil production and make America weaker, less secure. It would hamstring the economy and could cost millions of jobs. Average household costs could increase, and entire communities could be waylaid in the process…

Too much progress is at stake for the U.S. to put the country’s abundant natural gas and oil reserves on the shelf. Jobs, economic strength, household budgets, energy security and significant emissions reductions – aren’t rhetorical playthings for the campaign trail. They’re all closely tied to safe, reliable and affordable energy, which natural gas and oil provide and will continue to provide well into the future.

The costs of such a setback to U.S. energy are too much for Americans to pay.”

Pro

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in an article, “Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas Development,” accessed on Sep. 24, 2020 and available at epa.gov, stated:

“Unconventional oil and natural gas play a key role in our nation’s clean energy future. The U.S. has vast reserves of such resources that are commercially viable as a result of advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies. These technologies enable greater access to oil and natural gas in shale formations. Responsible development of America’s shale gas resources offers important economic, energy security, and environmental benefits.”

Pro

Independent Petroleum Association of America, in a policy statement, “Hydraulic Fracturing,” accessed on Sep. 24, 2020 and available at ipaa.org, stated:

“Fracking is a uniquely American success story that has provided immense benefits around the nation. By safely unlocking America’s abundant natural resources, fracking has created millions of American jobs, reduced energy prices, brought cleaner air by significantly reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 25-year-lows, strengthened our national security, and transformed the United States into a global energy superpower.”

Pro

David Blackmon, independent energy analyst/consultant,  in a Mar. 16, 2020 article, “‘No New Fracking’ – Be Careful What You Wish For,” available at forbes.com, stated

“The vast majority of new natural gas production in the U.S. comes from shale wells, and those wells require hydraulic fracturing – or ‘fracking’ – to produce. No new natural gas supplies would inevitably result in diminished reliability and higher costs for the average American to heat, cool and keep the lights on in our homes.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), more than 38% of the utility-scale electricity in our country was generated by natural gas power plants in 2019. Natural gas is now, by far, the single-largest electricity source in the U.S. mix. Coal is a distant second at just 23.5%. Nuclear comes in third at 19.7%, and total renewables amounted to 17.5% last year.

It is important to note that over 1/3rd of that renewable percentage comes from hydropower (6.6%), a source that Democratic politicians also tend to oppose. Add that 6.6% to natural gas, along with coal and nuclear, which both Sanders and Biden also like to demonize, and you are at 87.2% of the electricity generation in the U.S. for 2019 that these two [2020] Democratic presidential contenders have at various times in their campaigns proposed to get rid of. Do that, and everyone’s electricity bill skyrockets and reliability is a distant fantasy.”

Pro

The Wall Street Journal wrote in its June 25, 2011 editorial “The Facts About Fracking”:

“The U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution, and we don’t mean solar panels or wind turbines. A new gusher of natural gas from shale has the potential to transform U.S. energy production—that is, unless politicians, greens and the industry mess it up…

The resulting boom is transforming America’s energy landscape. As recently as 2000, shale gas was 1% of America’s gas supplies; today it is 25%. Prior to the shale breakthrough, U.S. natural gas reserves were in decline, prices exceeded $15 per million British thermal units, and investors were building ports to import liquid natural gas. Today, proven reserves are the highest since 1971, prices have fallen close to $4 and ports are being retrofitted for LNG exports.

The shale boom is also reviving economically suffering parts of the country, while offering a new incentive for manufacturers to stay in the U.S….

The question… is whether we are serious about domestic energy production. All forms of energy have risks and environmental costs, not least wind (noise and dead birds and bats) and solar (vast expanses of land). Yet renewables are nowhere close to supplying enough energy, even with large subsidies, to maintain America’s standard of living. The shale gas and oil boom is the result of U.S. business innovation and risk-taking. If we let the fear of undocumented pollution kill this boom, we will deserve our fate as a second-class industrial power.”

June 25, 2011 - Wall Street Journal

Pro

The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), a national association of state groundwater agencies, wrote in its Apr. 2009 publication “Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer” on gwpc.org:

“Hydraulic fracturing has been a key technology in making shale gas an affordable addition to the Nation’s energy supply, and the technology has proven to be a safe and effective stimulation technique. Ground water is protected during the shale gas fracturing process by a combination of the casing and cement that is installed when the well is drilled and the thousands of feet of rock between the fracture zone and any fresh or treatable aquifers… While challenges continue to exist with water availability and water management, innovative regional solutions are emerging that allow shale gas development to continue while ensuring that the water needs of other users can be met and that surface and ground water quality is protected.”

Apr. 2009 - Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC)

Pro

Terry Engelder, PhD, Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, wrote in her Sep. 14, 2011 article “Should Fracking Stop?” in Boston University’s Comment:

“I believe that there is enough domestic gas to meet our needs for the foreseeable future thanks to technological advances in hydraulic fracturing. According to IHS, a business-information company in Douglas County, Colorado, the estimated recoverable gas from US shale source rocks using fracking is about 42 trillion cubic metres, almost equal to the total conventional gas discovered in the United States over the past 150 years, and equivalent to about 65 times the current US annual consumption. During the past three years, about 50 billion barrels of additional recoverable oil have been found in shale oil deposits — more than 20% of the total conventional recoverable US oil resource. These ‘tight’ oil resources, which also require fracking to access, could generate 3 million barrels a day by 2020, offsetting one-third of current oil imports. International data aren’t as well known, but the effect of fracking on global energy production will be huge.

Global warming is a serious issue that fracking-related gas production can help to alleviate… Mankind’s inexorable march towards 9 billion people will require a broad portfolio of energy resources, which can be gained only with breakthroughs such as fracking…

Global warming aside, there is no compelling environmental reason to ban hydraulic fracturing. There are environmental risks, but these can be managed through existing, and rapidly improving, technologies and regulations. It might be nice to have moratoria after each breakthrough to study the consequences (including the disposal of old batteries or radioactive waste), but because energy expenditure and economic health are so closely linked, global moratoria are not practical.

The gains in employment, economics and national security, combined with the potential to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions if natural gas is managed properly, make a compelling case.”

Sep. 14, 2011 - Terry Engelder, PhD

Pro

Timothy J. Considine, PhD, Director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming, wrote in his June 7, 2011 paper “The Economic Opportunities of Shale Energy Development” for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research:

“The natural gas boom that America is experiencing is due largely to advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques which free gas trapped in densely packed shale formations previously thought to be uneconomic…

[T]he net economic benefits of shale drilling in the Marcellus are considerably positive while the environmental impact of the typical Marcellus well is relatively low…

[T]he probability of an environmental event is small and that those that do occur are minor and localized in their effects… [T]he potential economic benefits of shale gas exploration greatly exceed the potential environmental impacts.”

June 7, 2011 - Timothy J. Considine, PhD

Pro

Paul Chesser, Executive Director of the American Tradition Institute, wrote in his July 2011 policy brief “The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas” on the Commonwealth Foundation website:

“The development and growth of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry is a major boom for Pennsylvania’s economy. The industry has directly and indirectly created tens of thousands of new jobs, with tens of thousands more to come if natural gas is allowed to continue in a safe and responsible manner; paid out billions in royalty and lease payment to landowners; and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to state and local government tax coffers…

Among the myths alleged about ‘Big Gas’ is that drillers are flocking to Pennsylvania’s rich Marcellus Shale reserves, engaging in dangerous and highly polluting drilling activities, and shirking responsibility for damages while successfully avoiding paying taxes…

These intentional distortions of reality have both misinformed the public understanding in Pennsylvania and the policy debate in Harrisburg.”

July 2011 - Paul Chesser

CON (no)

Con

Greenpeace UK in an article, “Fracking,” accessed on Sep. 24, 2020 and available at greenpeace.org.uk, stated:

“Fracking – or, to give its technical term, hydraulic fracturing – is a process to get at oil and gas contained within shale rocks. Water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals are blasted deep underground to release the oil or gas trapped within the rocks…

Energy experts say that much of the gas we’ve already found needs to stay in the ground. Otherwise we won’t be able to meet our emission reduction targets and limit the effects of climate change. So it doesn’t make sense to go after even more, especially as fracked fuels can be even more damaging to the climate than regular oil and gas. That’s because fracking uses more energy to extract it than conventional oil and gas, and because fracked gas appears to leak more into the atmosphere. Gas itself is a greenhouse gas so the overall climate impact it produces is greater.

Not only is fracking bad for our climate, it risks causing air, water and sound pollution. It uses toxic chemicals where regulation may not be adequate. An accident could mean that these chemicals leak into water supplies or cause pollution above ground.”

Con

Marisa Guerrero, Program Assistant in the New York Regional And Environmental Justice, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program of the NRDC, in an Apr. 3, 2020 article, “New York State Codifies Fracking Ban in Budget,” available at nrdc.org, stated:

“Fracking is a dangerous process that uses a mixture of water, salt, and thousands of toxic chemicals to extract fossil fuels like oil and gas from the earth. The thousands of chemicals used in fracking are harmful to human health, linked to cancer, mutations, and other adverse effects. The fracking process releases toxic pollutants into the air and sometimes drinking water, and is therefore especially damaging to people living in nearby shalefields.

On an even larger scale, fracking fuels the climate crisis, releasing methane at all stages of the gas extraction, transmission, and combustion process. Methane is a particularly dangerous greenhouse gas that is 85 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. By memorializing the fracking ban in state law, New York is demonstrating leadership against fossil fuels and making way for a clean energy transition.”

Con

Kassie Siegal, JD, Senior Counsel Director of the Climate Law Institute at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, in a Nov. 19, 2019 article written by Christopher M. Matthews, “What Would Happen if the U.S. Banned Fracking?,” available at wsj.com, stated:

“Banning fracking is one of the most important steps the next president can take to protect our country. The scientific reality is that fracking is enabling the extraction of oil and gas that we cannot afford to burn…

Banning fracking is a key step to protect against the economic losses from climate disruption. We are facing massive economic losses due to climate disruption, driven by fossil-fuel extraction and use. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change pegged those climate damages at 20% of global GDP. That’s a global estimate, but local communities are suffering the harms right now—when homes are destroyed by climate change-fueled superstorms or fires like those in California, when crops fail due to drought and heat waves, and for so many other reasons. Banning fracking would help to diversify fossil fuel-dependent communities and improve the health and well-being of their residents. Fracking is an ultrahazardous extraction method that poisons the air we breathe and the water we drink and makes people terribly sick. Fracking should be banned due to its direct health harms alone.”

Con

Josh Fox, film director, in a a Jan 31, 2020, statement, “Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Lead First-Ever Bill to Ban Fracking Nationwide,” available at sanders.senate.gov, stated:

“The fracking industry operates with little to no regulation across this country and poisons people in their backyards, destroying their health, property value and the environment on a large scale. Fracking causes both local and regional health crises and is now the fastest growing contributor to global climate emissions. We need to ban fracking swiftly and decisively and move away from fossil fuels altogether. Fracking represents the largest expansion of fossil fuels at this moment, with new pipelines, power plants and other infrastructure being proposed across the country. We need to transform our economy away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy immediately. In state after state, we have seen that regulatory systems cannot keep up with the wholesale disaster of fracking, the only way to keep people safe from these rapacious destructive polluting fossil fuel corporations is to ban fracking at the federal level.”

Con

Jeff Merkley, US Senator (D-OR), in a a Jan 31, 2020, statement, “Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Lead First-Ever Bill to Ban Fracking Nationwide,” available at sanders.senate.gov, stated:

“Fracking has sacrificed the health of communities across America and led to massive releases of potent greenhouse gas pollution. From the formation of dangerous cancer clusters, to poisoned well water and earthquakes, to methane leaks big enough to be seen from outer space, fracking poses unacceptable risks to our health while accelerating climate chaos. Congress needs to stand up for the health of families, and pave the way to a sustainable future for our children and our children’s children by banning this dangerous practice.”

Con

Bernie Sanders, US Senator (I-VT), in a Jan 31, 2020, statement, “Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Lead First-Ever Bill to Ban Fracking Nationwide,” available at sanders.senate.gov, stated:

“We must realize that workers in the fracking fields are not the enemy, coal miners are not the enemy, and oil rig workers are not the enemy. Climate change is the enemy. As we transition to 100% renewable energy, we must come together to ensure a just transition for all fossil fuel workers. Fracking is a danger to our water supply. It’s a danger to the air we breathe, it has resulted in more earthquakes, and it’s highly explosive. To top it all off, it’s contributing to climate change. If we are serious about clean air and drinking water, if we are serious about combating climate change, the only safe and sane way to move forward is to ban fracking nationwide.”

Con

Environment America Research & Policy Center, in a April 14, 2016 report, “Fracking by the Numbers:
The Damage to Our Water, Land and Climate from a Decade of Dirty Drilling,” available at environmentamerica.org, stated: 

“The combination of two technologies – hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – has enabled the oil and gas industry to engage in an effort to unlock oil and gas in underground rock formations across the United States. “Fracking,” however, has also led to tremendous environmental harm and put the health and safety of communities across the country at risk.

Since 2005, according to industry and state data, at least 137,000 fracking wells have been drilled or permitted in more than 20 states… To protect the public and our environment, states should take action to ban fracking, or, failing that, to ensure that oil and gas companies are held to the highest level of environmental performance, transparency and accountability…

Fracking uses vast quantities of chemicals known to harm human health. [including at least]

  • 5 billion pounds of hydrochloric acid, a caustic acid;
  • 1.2 billion pounds of petroleum distillates, which can irritate the throat, lungs and eyes; cause dizziness and nausea; and can include toxic and cancer-causing agents; and
  • 445 million pounds of methanol, which is suspected of causing birth defects…

People living or working nearby can be exposed to these chemicals if they enter drinking water after a spill or if they become airborne.”

Con

Robert W. Howarth, PhD, Profesor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University, and Anthony Ingraffea, PhD, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University, wrote in their Sep. 14, 2011 article “Should Fracking Stop?” in Boston University’s Comment:

“Many fracking additives are toxic, carcinogenic or mutagenic. Many are kept secret. In the United States, such secrecy has been abetted by the 2005 ‘Halliburton loophole,’ which exempts fracking from many of the nation’s major federal environmental-protection laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act… Fracking extracts natural salts, heavy metals, hydrocarbons and radioactive materials from the shale, posing risks to ecosystems and public health when these return to the surface. This flowback is collected in open pits or large tanks until treated, recycled or disposed of. Because shale-gas development is so new, scientific information on the environmental costs is scarce. Only this year have studies begun to appear in peer-reviewed journals, and these give reason for pause. We call for a moratorium on shale-gas development [which requires fracking for extraction] to allow for better study of the cumulative risks to water quality, air quality and global climate. Only with such comprehensive knowledge can appropriate regulatory frameworks be developed…

[S]hale gas competes for investment with green energy technologies, slowing their development and distracting politicians and the public from developing a long-term sustainable energy policy. With time, perhaps engineers can develop more appropriate ways to handle fracking-fluid return wastes, and perhaps the technology can be made more sustainable and less polluting in other ways. Meanwhile, the gas should remain safely in the shale, while society uses energy more efficiently and develops renewable energy sources more aggressively.”

Sep. 14, 2011 - Robert W. Howarth, PhD

Con

EARTHWORKS, an environmental advocacy organization, wrote in its Apr. 23, 2009 webpage “Hydraulic Fracturing 101”:

“Hydraulic fracturing fluids contain toxic chemicals and are being injected into and near drinking water supplies…These chemicals have known negative health effects such as respiratory, neurological and reproductive impacts, impacts on the central nervous system, and cancer…

There are number of ways in which hydraulic fracturing threatens our drinking water…

[H]ydraulic fracturing fluids not only contain toxic chemicals, but this operation utilizes high volumes of fluids and high pressures to intentionally open up underground pathways for gas or oil to flow. Injected fluids have been known to travel as far as 3,000 feet from a well, and fracturing fluids may remain trapped underground.

Most states’ policies regarding hydraulic fracturing amount to ‘don’t ask and don’t tell.’ At the state level, most oil and gas agencies do not require companies to report the volumes or names of chemicals being injected during hydraulic fracturing, and they have never conducted any sampling to determine the underground or surface fate of hydraulic fracturing chemicals.”

Apr. 23, 2009 - EARTHWORKS

Con

Paul Krugman, PhD, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, wrote in his Nov. 6, 2011 op-ed “Here Comes the Sun” in the New York Times:

“Fracking… imposes large costs on the public. We know that it produces toxic (and radioactive) wastewater that contaminates drinking water; there is reason to suspect, despite industry denials, that it also contaminates groundwater; and the heavy trucking required for fracking inflicts major damage on roads.

Economics 101 tells us that an industry imposing large costs on third parties should be required to ‘internalize’ those costs — that is, to pay for the damage it inflicts, treating that damage as a cost of production. Fracking might still be worth doing given those costs. But no industry should be held harmless from its impacts on the environment and the nation’s infrastructure.

Yet what the industry and its defenders demand is, of course, precisely that it be let off the hook for the damage it causes. Why? Because we need that energy! For example, the industry-backed organization energyfromshale.org declares that ‘there are only two sides in the debate: those who want our oil and natural resources developed in a safe and responsible way; and those who don’t want our oil and natural gas resources developed at all.’

So it’s worth pointing out that special treatment for fracking makes a mockery of free-market principles. Pro-fracking politicians claim to be against subsidies, yet letting an industry impose costs without paying compensation is in effect a huge subsidy. They say they oppose having the government ‘pick winners,’ yet they demand special treatment for this industry precisely because they claim it will be a winner.

So what you need to know is that nothing you hear from these people is true. Fracking is not a dream come true.”

Nov. 6, 2011 - Paul Krugman, PhD

Con

Margot Roosevelt, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, wrote in her June 18, 2010 article “Gulf Oil Spill Worsens–But What About the Safety of Gas Fracking?”:

“Imagine a siege of hydrocarbons spewing from deep below ground, polluting water and air, sickening animals and threatening the health of unsuspecting Americans. And no one knows how long it will last.

No, we’re not talking about BP’s gulf oil spill. We’re talking about hydraulic fracturing of natural gas deposits. And if that phrase makes your eyes glaze over, start blinking them open. Fracking, as the practice is also known, may be coming to a drinking well or a water system near you. It involves blasting water, sand and chemicals, many of them toxic, into underground rock to extract oil or gas…

[F]ormer Vice President Dick Cheney, in partnership with the energy industry and drilling companies such as his former employer, Halliburton Corp., successfully pressured Congress in 2005 to exempt fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws…

Each well requires the high-pressure injection of a cocktail of nearly 600 chemicals, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins, diluted in 1 million to 7 million gallons of water.

Coincidentally, a month before the blowout of the gulf oil well, Energy and Environment Daily, an independent publication, published a draft of proposed language to exempt fracking from chemical disclosure rules in pending Senate energy and climate legislation. The primary author? BP America Inc.”

June 18, 2010 - Margot Roosevelt

Con

Kevin Grandia, Director of Online Strategy at Greenpeace USA, wrote in his June 28, 2010 article “What the Frack: Is Pumping Glass Cleaner Into the Earth Okay?” on the Huffington Post website:

“[N]atural gas extraction is a nasty business. Hydraulic fracturing is the reason there is so much money to be made in natural gas nowadays… The problem is that while the natural gas companies might think hydraulic fracturing is great for their bottom line, the process involves pumping thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals down into the earth. While the short-term financial upsides of fracking look good on quarterly reports, the long-term costs of the potential health and environmental damage is speculative at best. What is certain is that pumping thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals deep into the planet is probably not a good thing…

I don’t know what is more insidious, pumping thousands of gallons of immunotoxicants, mutagens, and other nasty things into our planet’s core, or the public relations spin the natural gas companies try to put on all this by listing these toxic agents as they are found in common household goods… Pumping these toxins into our earth is just plain fracked up and it makes clean energy technologies from unlimited sources like the sun and the wind that much more sensible.”

June 28, 2010 - Kevin Grandia