What Is Fracking?Hydraulic fracturing, aka "fracking," is a new method of extracting gas and oil from rocks at a depth of 2,000 to 10,000 feet down into the shale (soft, sedimentary rock formed from consolidated mud or clay) where one finds natural gas.
First, deep wells are drilled straight down through the aquifer (the mixture of soil and water from which life-sustaining water is extracted). This drilling then curves horizontally below the earth's surface and into its shale rock formations. Next, millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals are injected at enormous pressure into these rock formations, breaking apart the rock and freeing trapped methane along with other dangerous materials.
Why Is Fracking Dangerous?
- Aquifer - To drill down to the shale, one must drill through the aquifer. These drills are known to leak and sometimes even explode, releasing chemicals into this precious source of water.
- Chemicals - The 2011 U.S. House of Representatives
investigative report states that out of 2,500 hydraulic fracturing
products, more than 650 contain chemicals that are known carcinogens.
One would think that the Safe Drinking Water Act - a Federal law - would
make such willful contamination illegal, but it is not being applied to
Fracking. Also, most of these chemicals are not biodegradable. Once they are introduced to the aquifer, they will remain there forever.
- Wastewater - Each gas well requires 1-8 million gallons of
fresh water. The used water is one of the most hazardous wastes in the
U.S., containing carcinogenic Fracking chemicals,remnant oil and
hydrocarbons, biocides, as well as naturally occurring radioactive
materials, like radon, which is heavier than air and sinks into the
communities where people work and live.
- Air Pollution - There are air emissions associated with Fracking, which include methane leaks originating from wells, as well as emissions from the diesel or natural gas-powered equipment such as compressors, drilling rigs, pumps etc..
Learn More (Source: Gasland)
Has Fracking Been Banned Anywhere?Yes, in Vermont. Governor Peter Shumlin and legislature made Vermont the first U.S. state to ban Fracking. New Jersey, which lacks the pockets of natural gas that one finds in Pennsylvania, Texas, and New York has banned the treatment of Fracking wastewater. It has also been banned in France, Bulgaria, and South Africa.
How Can They Do This? Isn't This Against The Safe Drinking Water Act?The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the principal federal law in the United States intended to ensure safe drinking water for the public. In 2005, the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the SDWA. It also exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing.
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