Hydraulic Fracturing Issues Pt 2
Legislation has been introduced into both houses of Congress to amend the SDWA to include regulations regarding the hydraulic fracturing process, but has not been passed to date. The FRAC Act – Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness to Chemical Act is a bill that is currently sitting in the house and would effectively repeal the “Haliburton Loophole”, by requiring the natural gas industry to disclose the chemicals that they use during the fracturing process.
Since the EPA has limited regulatory authority regarding fracturing, legislation has been left up to the states. There is a movement in many local legislatures to implement Fluid chemical disclosure. The process of fracturing includes the injection of a mixture of fluids, propping agents like sand and some combination of chemicals. Six states have implemented disclosure rules. However it should be noted that having a hodgepodge of local ordinances and regulations, without any consistency would lead to enforcement issues and probably result in many costly lawsuits and actions with limited efficacy in terms of curtailing the usage of unknown chemical agents and their being introduced into the existing water supply.
The list of ongoing and potential environmental issues connected to hydraulic fracturing is very long and growing. Many of the environmental issues are vigorously disputed by the gas companies as there have been little in the way of accepted studies to determine the effects to the environment and to people in the surrounding environment by the fracturing process. That is not to say there should not be cause for concern. A basic understanding of science and an understanding of the fracturing process will allow for logical conclusions regarding the effects of hydraulic fracturing on the environment.
It is estimated that the propping fluid, used to inject into the shale deposits uses 1 to 8 million gallons of water to frack one well. Wells can be fracked up to 18 times before they are no longer usable. The propping fluid aside from taking local water contains chemicals that in most instances are of unknown origin and quantities. The limited water testing that has been done in a few areas has identified VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds and chemicals such as benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene and xylene.
So in addition to draining local water resources in which to engage in fracking in the first place, the water that is used is no longer drinkable and is additionally injected into the shale formations below ground. While some of it does return to the surface, much of it does not. Purportedly it is supposed to react with the chemicals and sand in the proppint mixture and somewhat solidify the fractures and fissures below ground. The excess water is supposed to be collected and stored in Resource pools on the sites until they can be disposed of properly. These pools are often just dug out spaces in the ground with no lining or any special preparation. So any water put into them has the potential to leach back into the groundwater supply.
In the documentary entitled “GasLand” there are numerous interviews with residents in various locations in the United States who reside in close proximity to Hydraulic fracturing wells who have water coming out of their tap that you can literally light a match to. The actual intent of fracking is to open pathways for gas to escape so seeing gas show up in people’s wells in areas adjacent to actual wells is not surprising.
At least humans can chose to get their water elsewhere (for now). The fish and the lakes and streams adjacent to fracturing wells are not so lucky.
There are also concerns about potential for seismic events as a result of the fracturing process. There as this point no definitive study showing a scientifically proven correlation to the fracturing process.
While there is disagreement on the effects and processes involving fracturing, one thing there is agreement on is the ability of fracturing to reduce this country’s dependence on foreign oil as a result of the hydraulic fracturing industry becoming more viable and widespread. While most agree that it would benefit the country in terms of energy costs actual projections from the EIA (also known as the United States Energy Information Administration) state an actual increase of 17 to 23 percent on energy prices utilizing a reference case price of $8.88.
I don’t believe that the economic advantages of natural gas are up for dispute. I do believe however that in a rush to take advantage of the financial benefits that accompany hydraulic fracturing, that unfortunately the human component is and has been overlooked. There needs to be more studies done that identify the risks associated with these wells and there MUST be cohesive legislation that regulates the chemicals that companies are “allowed” to use in the fracturing process and the EPA must be empowered to enforce said regulation. Right now this is not what is happening and people, literally are getting sick and dying and have no place to turn.
About the author
Currently pursuing a degree in Multimedia Design with a concentration in Web Administration, long time graphic and web designer from the olden days of Tripod and before the AOL running man. Current insights on life based on personal experience and trial and error. The life of course is a work in progress as are most things. Feel free to connect with me on twitter @BlkPhoenix66
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