Fracking and water quality

Michael Giberson

One of the issues surrounding development of shale gas resources has been concern over the effects of resource development (especially fracturing processes) on groundwater quality.  Congress has initiated an investigation of the practice, for example.

Geoff Styles looks over the issue in “Shale Gas and Drinking Water“, concluding it isn’t likely to be a big deal:

The more I learned about fracking, the more puzzled I became that it has attracted so much criticism recently. After all, the practice was developed in the late 1940s and has been used since then in tens of thousands of wells to produce literally billions of barrels of domestic oil and trillions of cubic feet of domestic natural gas.

… So how do we explain the current ruckus over hydraulic fracturing? Perhaps one reason this old practice is attracting new scrutiny is because it’s being applied in parts of the country that haven’t seen a drilling rig in decades, where it provokes a similar reaction to the arrival of 300-ft. wind turbines, utility-scale solar arrays, and long-distance transmission lines.

The industry doesn’t seem too concerned about the Congressional inquiry, which suggests that folks in the business don’t think that there is anything to be concerned about.

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5 thoughts on “Fracking and water quality

  1. While the industry is unconcerned about the issue technically, it should be very concerned about the enviro-political aspects of the issue. While those of us who heat, make hot water, cook and dry laundry with natural gas see an upside in greater availability, the AGW crowd sees only more CO2 and more global weirding.

  2. I think they need to be concerned, especially since Henry Waxman and Ed “Anti-energy” Markey have stuck their noses into this.

  3. A lot of people in the Rockies get their water from the ground. The rapid expansion of CBM drilling around the west has put drilling right in the laps of a lot of citizens, and people are speaking up about the problems. When you see video of people lighting their tap water on fire, you get concerned; and fracking is one of the magnets for that concern because – as rare as it may be – the gas is getting into to water some how.

    The industry got extremely arrogant during the Bush administration – trying to lease as much land as they could get their hands on, and then some – and they will be paying a PR price for some time.

    With regard to the fluid itself, I think the industry has brought a lot of it on themselves by being so secretive about what is in fracking fluid. It gives the *appearance* that something evil is going on. Release the ingredients, get that pain over with, and them move on to explaining how it does not impact aquifers.

  4. “So how do we explain the current ruckus over hydraulic fracturing?”

    Easy, the “environmentalists” see another opportunity to block access to another source of energy for Americans. They are not people who want to solve problems, they are people who want to be problems.

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