Tuesday, March 2, 2010

To frac or not to frac?

Hydraulic Fracturing or "fracking" is a proven method for improving the productivity of natural gas or oil wells.
The technique of hydraulic fracturing is used to increase or restore the rate at which fluids, such as oil, gas or water, can be produced from a reservoir, including unconventional reservoirs such as shale rock or coal beds. Environmental concerns regarding hydrofracturing techniques include potential for contamination of aquifers with fracturing chemicals or waste fluids.
Fracking was exempted from EPA regulation during the Bush/Cheney era.
A 2004 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study concluded that the process was safe and didn't warrant further study, because there was "no unequivocal evidence" of health risks, and the fluids were neither necessarily hazardous nor able to travel far underground.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 further strengthened the industry's regulatory position, specifically exempting hydraulic fracturing from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Since then, water supply contamination has been widely reported.
The increased use of hydraulic fracturing has prompted more criticism of its environmental dangers. A 2008 investigation of benzene contamination in Colorado and Wyoming led some EPA officials to point towards hydraulic fracturing as a culprit. One of the authors of the 2004 EPA report states that it has been misconstrued by the gas-drilling industry.
In June 2009 two identical bills named the FRAC Act were introduced to both the United States House and the Senate. FRAC stands for Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act. The FRAC Act has been heard in both the House and the Senate. It has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works, where it remains to this day.
And public awareness of the environmental issues related to fracking is growing.
The award-winning film Gasland addresses many of the issues that "fracking" presents. The film shows water that can be lit on fire and interviews people who all have startlingly similar health issues that have all arisen following the start of hydraulic fracture drilling near their homes.
Water that can be lit on fire right out of the sink, chronically ill residents of drilling areas from disparate locations in the US all with the same mysterious symptoms, huge pools of toxic waste that kill cattle and vegetation well blowouts and huge gas explosions consistently covered up by state and federal regulatory agencies. These are just a few of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND.

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