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Understanding this means - No Fracking Way!

*original articles supplied by Neo, better put a pot of coffee on for this one*

During the next century, the key power of all our commodities, will be water. Our scarcest essential commodity and so badly used. Fresh,clean Water shortages devastate communities. We destroy the environments and poison our seas.

Nuclear contamination from Fukishama in Japan has now cross polluted the Pacific and is delivering toxic radiation onto West Coast American and Canadian Beaches and into our rivers. It contaminates our Seas, Fish-stocks, Crabs and Lobsters. That and rising mercury levels found in Tuna from Industrial discharges signal real and growing dangers.

We are killing our oceans. As oceans evaporate, nuclear contaminated waters fall as rain and are absorbed in grasslands and plants, affecting our livestocks. Also our Freshwater Reservoirs.

Water is our ultimate frontier, the one essential building block of life. Contaminate that and we kill or mutate our species.

Guarding our precious asset is key.

But, we don't.

Because, in pursuit of reckless profit at any costs, we are unleashing again more ventures with no visible real controls, where the dangers and costs once unleashed, are irreparable. Take out our water, we take out life.

Please, read with care and absorb the analytical dangers of Fracking and the irreparable consequences on our water tables. 

Low cost energy at the Cost of Life itself does not equate. Men who destroyed our Constitution, who underpinned the Global Hegemony unleashed on others, who racketeered with Agency and Cabal opportunists, are not Men of Vision or Honor able to assess the costs and consequences of unleashing a Geological  catastrophe upon our nation from which there will be no way back. Hollywood gives you fantasy films of Mutant species. 
This will give you reality as it mutates your children and species.

Understanding this means - No Fracking Way!

Overview-Hydraulic fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing is the fracturing of rock by a pressurized liquid. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally—certain veins or dikes are examples. Induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a technique in which typically water is mixed with sand and chemicals, and the mixture is injected at high pressure into a wellbore to create small fractures (typically less than 1mm), along which fluids such as gas, petroleum and brine water may migrate to the well. The radial distance of influence of the process from the well bore is typically 150 yards.[citation needed] Hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, then small grains of proppant (sand or aluminium oxide) hold these fractures open once the rock achieves equilibrium. The technique is very common in wells for shale gas, tight gas, tight oil, and coal seam gas[1][2] and hard rock wells. This well stimulation is only conducted once in the life of the well and greatly enhances fluid removal and well productivity. A different technique where only acid is injected is referred to as acidizing.

Halliburton Frack Job in the Bakken
The first experimental use of hydraulic fracturing was in 1947, and the first commercially successful applications were in 1949. As of 2010, it was estimated that 60% of all new oil and gas wells worldwide were being hydraulically fractured.[3] As of 2012, 2.5 million hydraulic fracturing jobs have been performed on oil and gas wells worldwide, more than one million of them in the United States.[4]

Frac job in process
Proponents of hydraulic fracturing point to the economic benefits from the vast amounts of formerly inaccessible hydrocarbons the process can extract.[5] Opponents point to potential environmental impacts, including contamination of ground water, depletion of fresh water, risks to air quality, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, surface contamination from spills and flow-back, and the health effects of these.[6] For these reasons hydraulic fracturing has come under international scrutiny, with some countries suspending or banning it.[7][8] However, some of those countries, including most notably the United Kingdom,[9] have recently lifted their bans, choosing to focus on regulations instead of outright prohibition. Documented groundwater contamination has occurred from seepage of the stored water from the hydraulic fracturing from unlined surface ponds.[citation needed] The 2013 draft EU-Canada trade treaty includes language outlawing any "breach of legitimate expectations of investors" which may occur if revoking drilling licences of Canada-registered companies in the territory of the European Union after the treaty comes into force.[10]

Main article: Fracture (geology)



Fracturing in rocks at depth tends to be suppressed by the confining pressure, due to the load caused by the overlying rock strata and the cementation of the formation. This is particularly so in the case of "tensile" (Mode 1) fractures, which require the walls of the fracture to move apart, working against this confining pressure. Hydraulic fracturing occurs when the effective stress is overcome sufficiently by an increase in the pressure of fluids within the rock, such that the minimum principal stress becomes tensile and exceeds the tensile strength of the material.[11][12] Fractures formed in this way will in the main be oriented in the plane perpendicular to the minimum principal stress and for this reason induced hydraulic fractures in well bores are sometimes used to determine the orientation of stresses.[13] In natural examples, such as dikes or vein-filled fractures, the orientations can be used to infer past states of stress.[14]


Most vein systems are a result of repeated hydraulic fracturing during periods of relatively high pore fluid pressure. This is particularly noticeable in the case of "crack-seal" veins, where the vein material can be seen to have been added in a series of discrete fracturing events, with extra vein material deposited on each occasion.[15] One mechanism to demonstrate such examples of long-lasting repeated fracturing is the effect of seismic activity, in which the stress levels rise and fall episodically and large volumes of connate water may be expelled from fluid-filled fractures during earthquakes. This process is referred to as "seismic pumping".[16]


Low-level minor intrusions such as dikes propagate through the crust in the form of fluid-filled cracks, although in this case the fluid is magma. In sedimentary rocks with a significant water content the fluid at the propagating fracture tip will be steam.[17]

Non-hydraulic fracturing

Fracturing as a method to stimulate shallow, hard rock oil wells dates back to the 1860s. It was applied by oil producers in the US states of Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, and West Virginia by using liquid and later also solidified nitroglycerin. Later, the same method was applied to water and gas wells. The idea to use acid as a nonexplosive fluid for well stimulation was introduced in the 1930s. Due to acid etching, fractures would not close completely and therefore productivity was enhanced.

Hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas wells

The relationship between well performance and treatment pressures was studied by Floyd Farris of Stanolind Oil and Gas Corporation. This study became a basis of the first hydraulic fracturing experiment, which was conducted in 1947 at the Hugoton gas field in Grant County of southwestern Kansas by Stanolind.[1][3] For the well treatment 1,000 US gallons (3,800 l; 830 imp gal) of gelled gasoline (essentially napalm) and sand from the Arkansas River was injected into the gas-producing limestone formation at 2,400 feet (730 m). The experiment was not very successful as deliverability of the well did not change appreciably. The process was further described by J.B. Clark of Stanolind in his paper published in 1948. A patent on this process was issued in 1949 and an exclusive license was granted to the Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company. On March 17, 1949, Halliburton performed the first two commercial hydraulic fracturing treatments in Stephens County, Oklahoma, and Archer County, Texas.[3] Since then, hydraulic fracturing has been used to stimulate approximately a million oil and gas wells[18] in various geologic regimes with good success.

In the Soviet Union, the first hydraulic proppant fracturing was carried out in 1952. Other countries in Europe and Northern Africa to use hydraulic fracturing included Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Tunisia, and Algeria.[19]

Massive hydraulic fracturing

Pan American Petroleum applied the first massive hydraulic fracturing (also known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing) treatment in Stephens County, Oklahoma, USA in 1968. The definition of massive hydraulic fracturing varies somewhat, but is generally used for treatments injecting greater than about 150 mt, or approximately 330,000 pounds, of proppant.[20]

Well Head where fluids are 
injected into the ground
American geologists became increasingly aware that there were huge volumes of gas-saturated sandstones with permeability too low (generally less than 0.1 millidarcy) to recover the gas economically.[20] Starting in 1973, massive hydraulic fracturing was used in thousands of gas wells in the San Juan Basin, Denver Basin,[21] the Piceance Basin,[22] and the Green River Basin, and in other hard rock formations of the western US. Other tight sandstones in the US made economic by massive hydraulic fracturing were the Clinton-Medina Sandstone, and Cotton Valley Sandstone.[20]

Massive hydraulic fracturing quickly spread in the late 1970s to western Canada, Rotliegend and Carboniferous gas-bearing sandstones in Germany, Netherlands onshore and offshore gas fields, and the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea.[19]

Horizontal oil or gas wells were unusual until the 1980s. Then in the late 1980s, operators in Texas began completing thousands of oil wells by drilling horizontally in the Austin Chalk, and giving massive slickwater hydraulic fracturing treatments to the wellbores. Horizontal wells proved much more effective than vertical wells in producing oil from the tight chalk;[23] the shale runs horizontally so a horizontal well reached much more of the resource.[24] In 1991, the first horizontal well was drilled in the Barnett Shale[24] and in 1996 slickwater fluids were introduced.[24]

Massive hydraulic fracturing in shales

Due to shale's high porosity and low permeability, technology research, development and demonstration were necessary before hydraulic fracturing could be commercially applied to shale gas deposits. In the 1970s the United States government initiated the Eastern Gas Shales Project, a set of dozens of public-private hydraulic fracturing pilot demonstration projects. During the same period, the Gas Research Institute, a gas industry research consortium, received approval for research and funding from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.[25]

In 1997, based on earlier techniques used by Union Pacific Resources, now part of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Mitchell Energy, now part of Devon Energy, developed the hydraulic fracturing technique known as "slickwater fracturing" which involves adding chemicals to water to increase the fluid flow, that made the shale gas extraction economical.[26][27][28]

As of 2013, in addition to the United States several countries are planning to use hydraulic fracturing for unconventional oil and gas production.[29][30][31]

Induced hydraulic fracturing

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hydraulic fracturing is a process to stimulate a natural gas, oil, or geothermal energy well to maximize the extraction. The broader process, however, is defined by EPA as including the acquisition of source water, well construction, well stimulation, and waste disposal.[32]


The technique of hydraulic fracturing is used to increase the rate at which fluids, such as petroleum, water, or natural gas can be recovered from subterranean natural reservoirs. Reservoirs are typically porous sandstones, limestones or dolomite rocks, but also include "unconventional reservoirs" such as shale rock or coal beds. Hydraulic fracturing enables the production of natural gas and oil from rock formations deep below the earth's surface (generally 5,000–20,000 feet (1,500–6,100 m)), which is typically greatly below groundwater reservoirs of basins if present. At such depth, there may not be sufficient permeability or reservoir pressure to allow natural gas and oil to flow from the rock into the wellbore at economic rates. Thus, creating conductive fractures in the rock is pivotal to extract gas from shale reservoirs because of the extremely low natural permeability of shale, which is measured in the microdarcy to nanodarcy range.[33] Fractures provide a conductive path connecting a larger volume of the reservoir to the well. So-called "super fracing", which creates cracks deeper in the rock formation to release more oil and gas, will increase efficiency of hydraulic fracturing.[34] The yield for a typical shale gas well generally falls off after the first year or two, although the full producing life of a well can last several decades.[35]

While the main industrial use of hydraulic fracturing is in arousing production from oil and gas wells,[36][37][38] hydraulic fracturing is also applied:


Hydraulic fracturing of water-supply wells

Since the late 1970s, hydraulic fracturing has been used in some cases to increase the yield of drinking water from wells in a number of countries, including the US, Australia, and South Africa.[46][47][48]


A hydraulic fracture is formed by pumping the fracturing fluid into the wellbore at a rate sufficient to increase pressure downhole at the target zone (determined by the location of the well casing perforations) to exceed that of the fracture gradient (pressure gradient) of the rock.[49] The fracture gradient is defined as the pressure increase per unit of the depth due to its density and it is usually measured in pounds per square inch per foot or bars per meter. The rock cracks and the fracture fluid continues further into the rock, extending the crack still further, and so on. Fractures are localized because pressure drop off with frictional loss attributed to the distance from the well. Operators typically try to maintain "fracture width", or slow its decline, following treatment by introducing into the injected fluid a proppant – a material such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates, that prevent the fractures from closing when the injection is stopped and the pressure of the fluid is removed. Consideration of proppant strengths and prevention of proppant failure becomes more important at greater depths where pressure and stresses on fractures are higher. The propped fracture is permeable enough to allow the flow of formation fluids to the well. Formation fluids include gas, oil, salt water and fluids introduced to the formation during completion of the well during fracturing.[49]

During the process, fracturing fluid leakoff (loss of fracturing fluid from the fracture channel into the surrounding permeable rock) occurs. If not controlled properly, it can exceed 70% of the injected volume. This may result in formation matrix damage, adverse formation fluid interactions, or altered fracture geometry and thereby decreased production efficiency.[50]

The location of one or more fractures along the length of the borehole is strictly controlled by various methods that create or seal off holes in the side of the wellbore. Hydraulic fracturing is performed in cased wellbores and the zones to be fractured are accessed by perforating the casing at those locations.[51]

Hydraulic-fracturing equipment used in oil and natural gas fields usually consists of a slurry blender, one or more high-pressure, high-volume fracturing pumps (typically powerful triplex or quintuplex pumps) and a monitoring unit. Associated equipment includes fracturing tanks, one or more units for storage and handling of proppant, high-pressure treating iron, a chemical additive unit (used to accurately monitor chemical addition), low-pressure flexible hoses, and many gauges and meters for flow rate, fluid density, and treating pressure.[52] Chemical additives are typically 0.5% percent of the total fluid volume. Fracturing equipment operates over a range of pressures and injection rates, and can reach up to 100 megapascals (15,000 psi) and 265 litres per second (9.4 cu ft/s) (100 barrels per minute).[53]

Well types

A distinction can be made between conventional or low-volume hydraulic fracturing used to stimulate high-permeability reservoirs to frac a single well, and unconventional or high-volume hydraulic fracturing, used in the completion of tight gas and shale gas wells as unconventional wells are deeper and require higher pressures than conventional vertical wells.[54] In addition to hydraulic fracturing of vertical wells, it is also performed in horizontal wells. When done in already highly permeable reservoirs such as sandstone-based wells, the technique is known as "well stimulation".[38]

Horizontal drilling involves wellbores where the terminal drillhole is completed as a "lateral" that extends parallel with the rock layer containing the substance to be extracted. For example, laterals extend 1,500 to 5,000 feet (460 to 1,500 m) in the Barnett Shale basin in Texas, and up to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in the Bakken formation in North Dakota. In contrast, a vertical well only accesses the thickness of the rock layer, typically 50–300 feet (15–91 m). Horizontal drilling also reduces surface disruptions as fewer wells are required to access a given volume of reservoir rock. Drilling usually induces damage to the pore space at the wellbore wall, reducing the permeability at and near the wellbore. This reduces flow into the borehole from the surrounding rock formation, and partially seals off the borehole from the surrounding rock. Hydraulic fracturing can be used to restore permeability[55], but is not typically administered in this way.

Fracturing fluids

Water tanks preparing 
for a frac job
Main articles: Proppants and fracking fluids and List of additives for hydraulic fracturing

High-pressure fracture fluid is injected into the wellbore, with the pressure above the fracture gradient of the rock. The two main purposes of fracturing fluid is to extend fractures, add lubrication, change gel strength and to carry proppant into the formation, the purpose of which is to stay there without damaging the formation or production of the well. Two methods of transporting the proppant in the fluid are used – high-rate and high-viscosity. High-viscosity fracturing tends to cause large dominant fractures, while high-rate (slickwater) fracturing causes small spread-out micro-fractures.[citation needed]

This fracture fluid contains water-soluble gelling agents (such as guar gum) which increase viscosity and efficiently deliver the proppant into the formation.[56] 

Process of mixing water with
fracking fluids to be injected into
the ground
The fluid injected into the rock is typically a slurry of water, proppants, and chemical additives.[57] Additionally, gels, foams, and compressed gases, including nitrogen, carbon dioxide and air can be injected. Typically, of the fracturing fluid 90% is water and 9.5% is sand with the chemical additives accounting to about 0.5%.[49][58][59] However, fracturing fluids have been developed in which the use of water has been made unnecessary, using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and propane.[60]

A proppant is a material that will keep an induced hydraulic fracture open, during or following a fracturing treatment, and can be gel, foam, or slickwater-based. Fluids make tradeoffs in such material properties as viscosity, where more viscous fluids can carry more concentrated proppant; the energy or pressure demands to maintain a certain flux pump rate (flow velocity) that will conduct the proppant appropriately; pH, various rheological factors, among others. Types of proppant include silica sand, resin-coated sand, and man-made ceramics. These vary depending on the type of permeability or grain strength needed. The most commonly used proppant is silica sand, though proppants of uniform size and shape, such as a ceramic proppant, is believed to be more effective. Due to a higher porosity within the fracture, a greater amount of oil and natural gas is liberated.[61]

The fracturing fluid varies in composition depending on the type of fracturing used, the conditions of the specific well being fractured, and the water characteristics. A typical fracture treatment uses between 3 and 12 additive chemicals.[49] Although there may be unconventional fracturing fluids, the more typically used chemical additives can include one or more of the following:

The most common chemical used for hydraulic fracturing in the United States in 2005–2009 was methanol, while some other most widely used chemicals were isopropyl alcohol, 2-butoxyethanol, and ethylene glycol.[62]

Typical fluid types are:

For slickwater it is common to include sweeps or a reduction in the proppant concentration temporarily to ensure the well is not overwhelmed with proppant causing a screen-off.[63] As the fracturing process proceeds, viscosity reducing agents such as oxidizers and enzyme breakers are sometimes then added to the fracturing fluid to deactivate the gelling agents and encourage flowback.[56] The oxidizer reacts with the gel to break it down, reducing the fluid's viscosity and ensuring that no proppant is pulled from the formation. An enzyme acts as a catalyst for the breaking down of the gel. Sometimes pH modifiers are used to break down the crosslink at the end of a hydraulic fracturing job, since many require a pH buffer system to stay viscous.[63] At the end of the job the well is commonly flushed with water (sometimes blended with a friction reducing chemical) under pressure. Injected fluid is to some degree recovered and is managed by several methods, such as underground injection control, treatment and discharge, recycling, or temporary storage in pits or containers while new technology is continually being developed and improved to better handle waste water and improve re-usability.[49]

Fracture monitoring

Measurements of the pressure and rate during the growth of a hydraulic fracture, as well as knowing the properties of the fluid and proppant being injected into the well provides the most common and simplest method of monitoring a hydraulic fracture treatment. This data, along with knowledge of the underground geology can be used to model information such as length, width and conductivity of a propped fracture.[49]

Injection of radioactive tracers, along with the other substances in hydraulic-fracturing fluid, is sometimes used to determine the injection profile and location of fractures created by hydraulic fracturing.[64] The radiotracer is chosen to have the readily detectable radiation, appropriate chemical properties, and a half life and toxicity level that will minimize initial and residual contamination.[65] Radioactive isotopes chemically bonded to glass (sand) and/or resin beads may also be injected to track fractures.[66] For example, plastic pellets coated with 10 GBq of Ag-110mm may be added to the proppant or sand may be labelled with Ir-192 so that the proppant's progress can be monitored.[65] Radiotracers such as Tc-99m and I-131 are also used to measure flow rates.[65] The Nuclear Regulatory Commission publishes guidelines which list a wide range of radioactive materials in solid, liquid and gaseous forms that may be used as tracers and limit the amount that may be used per injection and per well of each radionuclide.[66]

Microseismic monitoring

For more advanced applications, microseismic monitoring is sometimes used to estimate the size and orientation of hydraulically induced fractures. Microseismic activity is measured by placing an array of geophones in a nearby wellbore. By mapping the location of any small seismic events associated with the growing hydraulic fracture, the approximate geometry of the fracture is inferred. Tiltmeter arrays, deployed on the surface or down a well, provide another technology for monitoring the strains produced by hydraulic fracturing.[67]

Microseismic mapping is very similar geophysically to seismology. In earthquake seismology seismometers scattered on or near the surface of the earth record S-waves and P-waves that are released during an earthquake event. This allows for the motion along the fault plane to be estimated and its location in the earth’s subsurface mapped. During formation stimulation by hydraulic fracturing an increase in the formation stress proportional to the net fracturing pressure as well as an increase in pore pressure due to leakoff takes place.[68] Tensile stresses are generated ahead of the fracture/cracks’ tip which generates large amounts of shear stress. The increase in pore water pressure and formation stress combine and affect the weakness (natural fractures, joints, and bedding planes) near the hydraulic fracture. Dilatational and compressive reactions occur and emit seismic energy detectable by highly sensitive geophones placed in nearby wells or on the surface.[69]

Different methods have different location errors and advantages. Accuracy of microseismic event locations is dependent on the signal to noise ratio and the distribution of the receiving sensors. For a surface array location accuracy of events located by seismic inversion is improved by sensors placed in multiple azimuths from the monitored borehole. In a downhole array location accuracy of events is improved by being close to the monitored borehole (high signal to noise ratio).

Monitoring of microseismic events induced by reservoir stimulation has become a key aspect in evaluation of hydraulic fractures and their optimization. The main goal of hydraulic fracture monitoring is to completely characterize the induced fracture structure and distribution of conductivity within a formation. This is done by first understanding the fracture structure. Geomechanical analysis, such as understanding the material properties, in-situ conditions and geometries involved will help with this by providing a better definition of the environment in which the hydraulic fracture network propagates.[70] The next task is to know the location of proppant within the induced fracture and the distribution of fracture conductivity. This can be done using multiple types of techniques and finally, further develop a reservoir model than can accurately predict well performance.

Horizontal completions

Since the early 2000s, advances in drilling and completion technology have made drilling horizontal wellbores much more economical. Horizontal wellbores allow for far greater exposure to a formation than a conventional vertical wellbore. This is particularly useful in shale formations which do not have sufficient permeability to produce economically with a vertical well. Such wells when drilled onshore are now usually hydraulically fractured in a number of stages, especially in North America. The type of wellbore completion used will affect how many times the formation is fractured, and at what locations along the horizontal section of the wellbore.[71]

In North America, shale reservoirs such as the Bakken, Barnett, Monterey, Haynesville, Marcellus, and most recently the Eagle Ford, Niobrara and Utica shales are drilled, completed and fractured using this method.[citation needed] The method by which the fractures are placed along the wellbore is most commonly achieved by one of two methods, known as "plug and perf" and "sliding sleeve".[72]

The wellbore for a plug and perf job is generally composed of standard joints of steel casing, either cemented or uncemented, which is set in place at the conclusion of the drilling process. Once the drilling rig has been removed, a wireline truck is used to perforate near the end of the well, following which a fracturing job is pumped (commonly called a stage). Once the stage is finished, the wireline truck will set a plug in the well to temporarily seal off that section, and then perforate the next section of the wellbore. Another stage is then pumped, and the process is repeated as necessary along the entire length of the horizontal part of the wellbore.[73]

The wellbore for the sliding sleeve technique is different in that the sliding sleeves are included at set spacings in the steel casing at the time it is set in place. The sliding sleeves are usually all closed at this time. When the well is ready to be fractured, using one of several activation techniques, the bottom sliding sleeve is opened and the first stage gets pumped. Once finished, the next sleeve is opened which concurrently isolates the first stage, and the process repeats. For the sliding sleeve method, wireline is usually not required.[citation needed]

These completion techniques may allow for more than 30 stages to be pumped into the horizontal section of a single well if required, which is far more than would typically be pumped into a vertical well.[74]

Economic impacts

See also: Shale gas

Hydraulic fracturing has been seen as one of the key methods of extracting unconventional oil and gas resources. According to the International Energy Agency, the remaining technically recoverable resources of shale gas are estimated to amount to 208 trillion cubic metres (208,000 km3), tight gas to 76 trillion cubic metres (76,000 km3), and coalbed methane to 47 trillion cubic metres (47,000 km3). As a rule, formations of these resources have lower permeability than conventional gas formations. Therefore, depending on the geological characteristics of the formation, specific technologies (such as hydraulic fracturing) are required. Although there are also other methods to extract these resources, such as conventional drilling or horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing is one of the key methods making their extraction economically viable. The multi-stage fracturing technique has facilitated the development of shale gas and light tight oil production in the United States and is believed to do so in the other countries with unconventional hydrocarbon resources.[5]

The National Petroleum Council estimates that hydraulic fracturing will eventually account for nearly 70% of natural gas development in North America.[75] Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling apply the latest technologies and make it commercially viable to recover shale gas and oil. In the United States, 45% of domestic natural gas production and 17% of oil production would be lost within 5 years without usage of hydraulic fracturing.[76]

A number of studies related to the economy and fracking, demonstrates a direct benefit to economies from fracking activities in the form of personnel, support, ancillary businesses, analysis and monitoring. Typically the funding source of the study is a focal point of controversy.[77] Most studies are either funded by mining companies or funded by environmental groups, which can at times lead to at least the appearance of unreliable studies.[77] An unbiased study was performed by Deller & Schreiber in 2012, looking at the relationship between non-oil and gas mining and community economic growth. The study concluded that there is an impact on income growth; however, researchers found that mining does not lead to an increase in population or employment.[77] The actual financial impact of non-oil and gas mining on the economy is dependent on many variables and is difficult to identify definitively.

Environmental impact

Hydraulic fracturing has raised environmental concerns and is challenging the adequacy of existing regulatory regimes.[78] These concerns have included ground water contamination, risks to air quality, migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, mishandling of waste, and the health effects of all these, as well as its contribution to raised atmospheric CO2 levels by enabling the extraction of previously-sequestered hydrocarbons.[6][49][62] Because hydraulic fracturing originated in the United States,[79] its history is more extensive there than in other regions. Most environmental impact studies have therefore taken place there.

Research issues

Several organizations, researchers, and media outlets have reported difficulty in conducting and reporting the results of studies on hydraulic fracturing due to industry[80][81] and governmental pressure, and expressed concern over possible censoring of environmental reports.[80][82][83], though work by National Science Foundation, the EPA and several universities has been considered unbiased. Concerns have been raised about the role of wealthy foundations in financing research[84] that some have argued was designed to inflate the risks of development,[85] and lobbying by the gas industry to promote its activities.[86] The broader debate over these topics provides an example of the research challenges on this subject. Researchers have recommended requiring disclosure of all hydraulic fracturing fluids, testing animals raised near fracturing sites, and closer monitoring of environmental samples.[87] After court cases concerning contamination from hydraulic fracturing are settled, the documents are sealed, and at least one recent case bears that out,[88] while others believe it has and could lead to unnecessary risks to public safety and health.[89] The American Petroleum Institute denies that this practice has hidden problems with gas drilling.[citation needed]


The air emissions from hydraulic fracturing are related to methane leaks originating from wells, and emissions from the diesel or natural gas powered equipment such as compressors, drilling rigs, pumps etc.[49] Also transportation of necessary water volume for hydraulic fracturing, if done by trucks, can cause high volumes of air emissions, especially particulate matter emissions.[90] There are also reports of health problems around compressors stations[91] or drilling sites,[92] although a causal relationship is not established[92] and one Texas analysis found no evidence of effects.[93]

Natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing causes higher well-to-burner emissions than gas produced from conventional wells. Although a recent report coauthored by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory [94] found emissions from shale gas, when burned for electricity, were “very similar” to those from so-called “conventional well” natural gas, hydraulic fracturing's higher emissions profile is mainly due to the gas released during completing wells as some gas returns to the surface, together with the fracturing fluids. Depending on their treatment, the well-to-burner emissions are 3.5%–12% higher than for conventional gas.[78] Other studies have found different effects, and a debate has arisen particularly around a study by professor Robert W. Howarth finding shale gas significantly worse for global warming than oil or coal[95] and various others criticizing the analysis.[96][97] Howarth has responded that "The latest EPA estimate for methane emissions from shale gas falls within the range of our estimates but not those of Cathles et al., which are substantially lower."[98] The U.S. EPA has estimated the methane leakage rate to be about 2.4% – well below Howarth’s estimate. The American Gas Association, and industry trade group, calculated a 1.2% leakage rate [99] based on the EPA's latest greenhouse gas inventory, although the EPA has not publicly stated a change to its prior estimate.




The large volumes of water required have raised concerns about hydraulic fracturing in arid areas, such as Karoo in South Africa[79] and drought prone areas of North America.[100] During periods of low stream flow it may affect water supplies for municipalities and industries such as power generation, as well as recreation and aquatic life. It may also require water overland piping from distant sources.[101]

Hydraulic fracturing uses between 1.2 and 3.5 million US gallons (4.5 and 13 Ml) of water per well, with large projects using up to 5 million US gallons (19 Ml). Additional water is used when wells are refractured.[56][102] An average well requires 3 to 8 million US gallons (11,000 to 30,000 m3) of water over its lifetime.[49][101][102][103] Using the case of the Marcellus Shale as an example, as of 2008 hydraulic fracturing accounted for 650 million US gallons per year (2,500,000 m3/a) or less than 0.8% of annual water use in the area overlying the Marcellus Shale.[101][104] The annual number of well permits, however, increased by a factor of five[105] and the number of well starts increased by a factor of over 17 from 2008 to 2011.[106] According to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, greater volumes of fracturing fluids are required in Europe, where the shale depths average 1.5 times greater than in the U.S.[107] To minimize water consumption, recycling is one possible option.[78] In the Spring of 2013, new hydraulic fracturing water recycling rules were adopted in the state of Texas by the Railroad Commission of Texas. The Water Recycling Rules are intended to encourage Texas hydraulic fracturing operators to conserve water used in the hydraulic fracturing process for oil and gas wells.[108] Another possible option is to use carbon dioxide instead of water.[109]

Injected fluid

There are concerns about possible contamination by hydraulic fracturing fluid both as it is injected under high pressure into the ground and as it returns to the surface.[110][111] To mitigate the impact of hydraulic fracturing to groundwater, the well and ideally the shale formation itself should remain hydraulically isolated from other geological formations, especially freshwater aquifers.[78] In 2009 state regulators from at least a dozen states have also stated that they have seen no evidence[112] of the hydraulic fracturing process polluting drinking water. In May 2011, former U.S. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson (appointed by President Barack Obama) has said on at least two occasions that there is either no proven case of direct contamination by the hydraulic fracturing process, or that the EPA has never made a definitive determination[113] of such contamination. By August 2011 there were at least 36 cases of suspected groundwater contamination due to hydraulic fracturing in the United States. In more recent congressional testimony in April 2013, Dr. Robin Ikeda, Deputy Director of Noncommunicable Diseases, Injury and Environmental Health at the CDC listed several sites where EPA had documented contamination.[114] In several cases EPA has determined that hydraulic fracturing was likely the source of the contamination.[89][115][116][117][118][119]

While some of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are common and generally harmless, some are known carcinogens at high enough doses.[62] A report prepared for House Democratic members Henry Waxman, Edward Markey and Diana DeGette stated that out of 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products, "more than 650 of these products contained chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants".[62] The report also shows that between 2005 and 2009, 279 products had at least one component listed as "proprietary" or "trade secret" on their Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required material safety data sheet (MSDS). The MSDS is a list of chemical components in the products of chemical manufacturers, and according to OSHA, a manufacturer may withhold information designated as "proprietary" from this sheet. When asked to reveal the proprietary components, most companies participating in the investigation were unable to do so, leading the committee to surmise these "companies are injecting fluids containing unknown chemicals about which they may have limited understanding of the potential risks posed to human health and the environment".[62] Without knowing the identity of the proprietary components, regulators cannot test for their presence. This prevents government regulators from establishing baseline levels of the substances prior to hydraulic fracturing and documenting changes in these levels, thereby making it more difficult to prove that hydraulic fracturing is contaminating the environment with these substances.[120]

Another 2011 study identified 632 chemicals used in natural gas operations. Only 353 of these are well-described in the scientific literature. The study indicated possible long-term health effects that might not appear immediately. The study recommended full disclosure of all products used, along with extensive air and water monitoring near natural gas operations; it also recommended that hydraulic fracturing's exemption from regulation under the US Safe Drinking Water Act be rescinded.[121] Industry group Energy In Depth, a research arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, contends that fracking "was never granted an 'exemption' from it... How can something earn an exemption from a law that never covered or even conceived of it in the first place?”[122]

Governments are responding to questions about the contents of hydraulic fracturing fluid by requiring disclosure via government agencies and public web site. The Irish regulatory regime requires full disclosure of all additives to Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency (Ireland). The European Union also requires such disclosure.[123] In the US, the Ground Water Protection Council launched, an online voluntary disclosure database for hydraulic fracturing fluids funded by oil and gas trade groups and the U.S. Department of Energy. The site has been met with some skepticism relating to proprietary information that is not included.[124][125] Some states have mandated fluid disclosure and incorporated FracFocus as the tool for disclosure.[126][127] Also in the US, FracTracker Alliance provides oil and gas-related data storage, analyses, and online and customized maps related to hydraulic fracturing on[128][129]


As the fracturing fluid flows back through the well, it consists of spent fluids and may contain dissolved constituents such as minerals and brine waters. It may account for about 30–70% of the original fracture fluid volume.[citation needed] In addition, natural formation waters may flow to the well and need treatment or disposal. These fluids, commonly known as flowback, produced water, or wastewater, are managed by underground injection, wastewater treatment and discharge, or recycling to fracture future wells.[130] Hydraulic fracturing can concentrate levels of uranium, radium, radon, and thorium in flowback.[131] Treatment of produced waters may be feasible through either self-contained systems at well sites or fields or through municipal waste water treatment plants or commercial treatment facilities.[130] However, the quantity of waste water being treated, and the improper configuration of sewage plants to treat it, have become an issue in the northeast United States. Much of the wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations in Pennsylvania is processed by public sewage treatment plants, which are not equipped to remove radioactive material and are not required to test for it.[132][133] Another issue is the bromide in waste brine. The bromide combines with chlorine disinfectant and dissolved organic matter in water treatment plants to form trihalomethanes (THMs).[134][135]

Interestingly, a recent study from Duke University found: “Contrary to current perceptions, Marcellus [Shale] wells produce significantly less wastewater per unit gas recovered (~35%) compared to conventional natural gas wells.”[136] Estimates of the amount of injected fluid returning to the surface vary. Some say approximately 15-20% of the injected fluid returns to the surface with the gas[137] and other that higher amounts return.[138] Some remains underground[137] and some may return to the surface through abandoned wells or other pathways.[139] Although not necessarily indicative of broader industry trends, several reports [140][141] have also highlighted an industry-wide shift toward greater water recycling in the Marcellus Shale.


Groundwater methane contamination is also a concern as it has adverse impact on water quality and in extreme cases may lead to potential explosion.[142][133] In 2006, over 7 million cubic feet (200,000 m3) of methane were released from a blown gas well in Clark, Wyoming and shallow groundwater was found to be contaminated.[143] However, methane contamination is not always caused by hydraulic fracturing. Drilling for ordinary drinking water wells can also cause methane release. Some studies make use of tests that can distinguish between the deep thermogenic methane released during gas/oil drilling, and the shallower biogenic methane that can be released during water-well drilling. While both forms of methane result from decomposition, thermogenic methane results from geothermal assistance deeper underground.[144][145]

According to the 2011 study of the MIT Energy Initiative, "there is evidence of natural gas (methane) migration into freshwater zones in some areas, most likely as a result of substandard well completion practices i.e. poor quality cementing job or bad casing, by a few operators."[146] 2011 studies by the Colorado School of Public Health and Duke University also pointed to methane contamination stemming from hydraulic fracturing or its surrounding process.[142][145] A study by Cabot Oil and Gas examined the Duke study using a larger sample size, found that methane concentrations were related to topography, with the highest readings found in low-lying areas, rather than related to distance from gas production areas. Using a more precise isotopic analysis, they showed that the methane found in the water wells came from both the Marcellus Shale (Middle Devonian) where hydraulic fracturing occurred, and from the shallower Upper Devonian formations.[144] A 2013 Duke study suggested that both defective cement seals in the upper part of wells and faulty steel linings within deeper layers may be allowing methane and injected fluid to seep into surface waters.[111] Abandoned gas and oil wells also provide conduits to the surface.[139]

In April 2013 the EPA dramatically lowered its estimate of how much methane gas is released to the atmosphere during the fracking process by 20 percent.[147]


There are concerns about the levels of radioactivity in wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and its potential impact on public health. A Popular Mechanics article stated, however, that although shale does have a radioactive signature, testing conducted in Pennsylvania in 2009 found “no evidence of elevated radiation levels” in waterways.[148] The EPA called for more testing.[149] In 2009, Conrad Dan Volz, former Director of the Center for Health Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh, said that radiation concerns are one of the least pressing issues.[148]

In 2011 The New York Times reported radium in wastewater from natural gas wells is released into Pennsylvania rivers,[133][150] and has compiled a map of these wells and their wastewater contamination levels,[151] and stated that some EPA reports were never made public.[110] The Times' reporting on the issue has come under some criticism.[152][153] Recycling this wastewater has been proposed as a partial solution, but this approach has limitations.[154] A 2012 study examining a number of hydraulic fracturing sites in Pennsylvania and Virginia by Pennsylvania State University, found that water that flows back from gas wells after hydraulic fracturing contains high levels of radium.[155] Solid waste such as drill clippings is also radioactive. In 2012 there were 1325 radiation alerts from all sources at dumps in Pennsylvania, up from 423 alerts in 2008. At least 1,000 of the 2012 alerts were set off by waste from gas and oil drilling hydraulic fracturing operations.[156]


Hydraulic fracturing routinely produces microseismic events much too small to be detected except by sensitive instruments. These microseismic events are often used to map the horizontal and vertical extent of the fracturing.[157] However, as of late 2012, there have been three instances of hydraulic fracturing, through induced seismicity, triggering quakes large enough to be felt by people: one each in the United States, Canada, and England.[158]

The injection of waste water from oil and gas operations, including from hydraulic fracturing, into saltwater disposal wells may cause bigger low-magnitude tremors, being registered up to 3.3 (Mw).[159]

Induced seismicity from hydraulic fracturing[edit source | edit]

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has reported earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing, and by disposal of hydraulic fracturing flowback into waste disposal wells, in several locations. Bill Ellsworth, a geoscientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, has said, however: “We don’t see any connection between fracking and earthquakes of any concern to society.” [160] The National Research Council (part of the National Academy of Sciences) has also observed that hydraulic fracturing, when used in shale gas recovery, does not pose a serious risk of causing earthquakes that can be felt.[161]

A British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission investigation concluded that a series of 38 earthquakes (magnitudes ranging from 2.2 to 3.8 on the Richter scale) occurring in the Horn River Basin area between 2009 and 2011 were caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing in proximity to pre-existing faults. The tremors were small enough that only one of them was reported felt by people; there were no reports of injury or property damage.[162]

A report in the UK concluded that hydraulic fracturing was the likely cause of two small tremors (magnitudes 2.3 and 1.4 on the Richter scale) that occurred during hydraulic fracturing of shale.[163][164][165]

Induced seimicity from water disposal wells[edit source | edit]

According to the USGS only a small fraction of roughly 40,000 waste fluid disposal wells for oil and gas operations in the United States have induced earthquakes that are large enough to be of concern to the public.[166] Although the magnitudes of these quakes has been small, the USGS says that there is no guarantee that larger quakes will not occur.[167] In addition, the frequency of the quakes has been increasing. In 2009, there were 50 earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.0 in the area spanning Alabama and Montana, and there were 87 quakes in 2010. In 2011 there were 134 earthquakes in the same area, a sixfold increase over 20th century levels.[168] There are also concerns that quakes may damage underground gas, oil, and water lines and wells that were not designed to withstand earthquakes.[167][169]

Several earthquakes in 2011, including a 4.0 magnitude quake on New Year's Eve that hit Youngstown, Ohio, are likely linked to a disposal of hydraulic fracturing wastewater, according to seismologists at Columbia University.[170] A similar series of small earthquakes occurred in 2012 in Texas. Earthquakes are not common occurrences in either area. Disposal and injection wells are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and UIC laws.[171]

Health impacts

Concern has been expressed over the possible long and short term health effects of air and water contamination and radiation exposure by gas production.[131][172][173] A study on the effect of gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, published by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, concluded that exposure to gas drilling operations was strongly implicated in serious health effects on humans and animals [174] although scientists have raised concerns about that particular report.[175] As of May 2012, the United States Institute of Medicine and United States National Research Council were preparing to review the potential human and environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing.[176][177]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers radioactive material in flowback a hazard to workers at hydraulic fracturing sites. Workers may inhale radon gas released by the process, raising their risk of lung cancer. They are also exposed to alpha and gamma radiation released during the decay of radium-226 and to gamma radiation and beta particles released by the decay of radium-228, according to EPA. EPA reports that gamma radiation can also penetrate the skin and raise the risk of cancer.[178]

A 2012 study concluded that risk prevention efforts should be directed towards reducing air emission exposures for persons living and working near wells during well completions.[179] In the United States the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a hazard alert based on data collected by NIOSH that workers may be exposed to dust with high levels of respirable crystalline silica (silica dioxide) during hydraulic fracturing.[180] NIOSH notified company representatives of these findings and provided reports with recommendations to control exposure to crystalline silica and recommend that all hydraulic fracturing sites evaluate their operations to determine the potential for worker exposure to crystalline silica and implement controls as necessary to protect workers.[181]

According to the United States Department of Energy, hydraulic fracturing fluid is composed of approximately 95% water, 4.5% sand and 0.5% different chemicals.[49] These percentages are by weight, so hydraulically fracturing a well uses 4-7 million gallons of water (15000-27000 tons) and 80-140 tons of chemicals. There can be up to 65 chemicals and often include benzyne, glycol-ethers, toluene, ethanol and nonphenols.[182] Some[who?] have argued that although many of these chemicals are harmful, some of them are either non toxic or are non toxic at lower dosages.[183] However, their concentration in hydraulic fracturing fluid have proven toxic to animals and humans.[174] Many chemicals used in fracking, such as 2-BE ethylene glycol, are carcenogenic. This chemical is listed under chronic oral RFD assessment, chronic inhalation RFC assessment, and carcinogenicity assessment records of the US environmental protection agency’s website. In a study done by the US Environmental Protection Agency, it found statistically significant effects observed in mice included forestomach ulcers and epithelial hyperplasia, hematopoietic cell proliferation and hemosiderin pigmentation in the spleen, Kupffer cell pigmentation in the livers, and bone marrow hyperplasia (in males only, suggesting tissue damage due to exposure above 125-250ppm.[184] The study also found statistically significant decreases in automated and manual hematocrit (Hct) values, hemoglobin (Hb) concentrations, and red blood cell (RBC) for both males and females at exposure of 250ppm and for female in the 125ppm exposure group.[184]

In a study done by Colborn and colleagues, they examined 353 out of 994 fracking chemicals identified by TEDX in hydraulic fracking operation. They found over 75% of the 353 chemicals affected the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs,52% affected the nervous system, 40% affected the immune system and kidney system, and 46% affected the cardiocascular system and blood.[185]

In a second study done by Colborn and colleagues, they examined the airborne chemicals due to the fracking process. The group categorized the human tissue types into 12 categories and found 35 chemicals affected the brain/nervous system, 33 the liver/ metabolism, and 30 the endocrine system, which includes reproductive and developmental effects. The categories with the next highest numbers of effects were the immune system (28), cardiovascular/blood (27), and the sensory and respiratory systems (25 each). Eight chemicals had health effects in all 12 categories.[186]

Airborne chemicals during the fracking process, such as benzene and benzene derivatives, naphthalene, methylene chloride, are either carcinogenic or suspected as a human carcinogen to the human body.[186][187]

Public debate

Poster against fracking in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, October 2012

Politics and public policy

To control the hydraulic fracturing industry, some governments are developing legislation and some municipalities are developing local zoning limitations.[188] In 2011, France became the first nation to ban hydraulic fracturing.[7][8] Some other countries have placed a temporary moratorium on the practice.[189] The US has the longest history with hydraulic fracturing, so its approach to hydraulic fracturing may be modeled by other countries.[79]

The considerable opposition against hydraulic fracturing activities in local townships has led companies to adopt a variety of public relations measures to assuage fears about hydraulic fracturing, including the admitted use of "mil­i­tary tac­tics to counter drilling oppo­nents". At a conference where public relations measures were discussed, a senior executive at Anadarko Petroleum was recorded on tape saying, "Download the US Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency", while referring to hydraulic fracturing opponents. Matt Pitzarella, spokesman for Range Resources also told other conference attendees that Range employed psychological warfare operations veterans. According to Pitzarella, the experience learned in the Middle East has been valuable to Range Resources in Pennsylvania, when dealing with emotionally charged township meetings and advising townships on zoning and local ordinances dealing with hydraulic fracturing.[190][191]

Police officers have recently been forced, however, to deal with intentionally disruptive and even potentially violent opposition to oil and gas development. In March 2013, ten people were arrested [192] during an "anti-fracking protest" near New Matamoras, Ohio, after they illegally entered a development zone and latched themselves to drilling equipment. In northwest Pennsylvania, there was a drive-by shooting at a well site, in which an individual shot two rounds of a small-caliber rifle in the direction of a drilling rig, just before shouting profanities at the site and fleeing the scene.[193] And in Washington County, Pa., a contractor working on a gas pipeline found a pipe bomb that had been placed where a pipeline was to be constructed, which local authorities said would have caused a “catastrophe” had they not discovered and detonated it.[194]

Media coverage

Josh Fox's 2010 Academy Award nominated film Gasland became a center of opposition to hydraulic fracturing of shale. The movie presented problems with ground water contamination near well sites in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Colorado.[195] Energy in Depth, an oil and gas industry lobbying group, called the film's facts into question.[196] In response, a rebuttal of Energy in Depth's claims of inaccuracy was posted on Gasland's website.[197] The Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) offered to be interviewed as part of the film if he could review what was included from the interview in the final film but Fox declined the offer.[198] Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corporation and ConocoPhillips aired advertisements during 2011 and 2012 that claim to describe the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas and argue hydraulic fracturing is safe.[199]

The film Promised Land, starring Matt Damon, takes on hydraulic fracturing.[200] The gas industry has made plans to counter the film's criticisms of hydraulic fracturing with informational flyers, and Twitter and Facebook posts.[199]

One New York Times report claimed that an early draft of a 2004 EPA study discussed "possible evidence" of aquifer contamination but the final report omitted that mention.[80] Some have criticized the narrowing of EPA studies, including the EPA study on hydraulic fracturing's impact on drinking water to be released in late 2014,[201] such that hydrocarbon extraction processes not unique to hydraulic fracturing, such as drilling, casing, and above ground impacts, are considered beyond scope.[81][82][202][203][204]

Energy Policy Act of 2005

Enacted by the  109th United States Congress
Public Law Pub. L. 109-58
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R.6 by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) on April 18, 2005
  • Passed the House on April 21, 2005 (249 - 183)
  • Passed the Senate on June 28, 2005 (85 - 12)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on July 27, 2005; agreed to by the House on July 28, 2005 (275 - 156) and by the Senate on July 29, 2005 (74 - 26)
  • Signed into law by President George W. Bush on August 8, 2005
Major amendments
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Pub.L. 109–58) is a bill passed by the United States Congress on July 29, 2005, and signed into law by President George W. Bush on August 8, 2005, at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The act, described by proponents as an attempt to combat growing energy problems, changed US energy policy by providing tax incentives and loan guarantees for energy production of various types.

General provisions

  • it exempts oil and gas producers from certain requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act;

  • it directs the Secretary of the Interior to complete a programmatic environmental impact statement for a commercial leasing program for oil shale and tar sands resources on public lands with an emphasis on the most geologically prospective lands within each of the states of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.[9]


    Tax reductions by subject area

  • $2.8 billion for fossil fuel production
  • GasLand-the documentary

    He was arrested for attempting to film a congressional hearing on the issue.

    Exemptions for hydraulic fracturing under United States federal law

    There are many exemptions for hydraulic fracturing under United States federal law: the oil and gas industries are exempt or excluded from several of the major federal environmental laws. These laws range from protecting clean water and air, to preventing toxic substances and chemicals in the environment: the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as Superfund.

    Clean Water Act

    The Clean Water Act is a result of the 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, which was passed to ultimately eliminate pollution discharge into any body of water in the United States.[8] One of the major mechanisms for implementing this statute was to create a permitting process for all discharging methods that involved dumping pollutants into streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands, or creeks. Then, in 1987, congress amended the act, requiring the EPA to develop a permitting program for storm water runoff, but the exploration, production, and processing of oil and gas exploration was exempt. And as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, also known as the "Halliburton Loophole," these exemptions were once again expanded; therefore now including exemptions for waste water from gas and oil construction activities which includes "oil and gas exploration, production, process, or treatment operations and transmission facilities" as part of the definition of construction activities.[9]

    Safe Drinking Water Act

    In 1974, The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed to protect the quality of U.S. public drinking water and aims to protect above and below ground water sources that are or could potentially be used for human consumption.[10] Section C of the SDWA requires the EPA to establish minimum regulations for State Underground Injection Control Programs. Under part C, Section 1421 of the SWDA, underground injection is "the subsurface emplacement of fluids by well injection." This definition should allow for the EPA to regulate hydraulic fracturing and was upheld by the 1997 U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit which ruled that "hydraulic fracturing activities constitute underground injection according to Section C of the SDWA[11] This required the EPA and state underground injection control programs to regulate hydraulic fracturing under the SDWA. Shortly after this the EPA conducted a study of impacts of hydraulic fracturing and published its findings in 2004. Under section 7.4, they "concluded that the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into coalbed methane wells poses little or no threat to USDWs and does not justify additional study at this time[6][12][13]" which was translated into two amendments for SDWA with the passage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The Amendments added two exclusions to the definition of underground injection: ""(i) the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage; and (ii) the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.[14] This allows for any underground injection related to hydraulic fracturing as long as it is not diesel fuel, even if it jeopardizes potential drinking water sources.

    Congress Releases Report on Toxic Chemicals Used In Fracking

    by Jay Kimball on 17 April 2011

    Democrats of the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce just released a new report detailing chemicals used in the toxic gas exploration process known as Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking or fracing). Fracking is a technique used to extract natural gas from oil shale beneath the earths surface. Communities are increasingly concerned about fracking polluting public water systems and the environment, when the chemicals leak into aquifers, rivers, streams and the atmosphere.

    While the oil/gas industry has denied any problem, there is mounting evidence that public water systems and private wells are being polluted in areas around the drilling sites. In states such as Pennsylvania, politicians have welcomed Big Oil in with open arms, and thousands of gas extraction wells are expected to be drilled this year. Presently, the natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified known carcinogens and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. The chemicals can most often leak in to the water system in several ways:

    Derrick – The natural gas process involves drilling 5,000 feet or more down and a comparable distance horizontally. The majority of the drilling liquid remains in the ground and is not biodegradable.

    Well Casing – If the well casing that penetrates through the aquifer is not well sealed, chemicals can leak in to the aquifer.

    Fractured Shale – To release the gas from underground, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into the well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. These fissures may allow the chemicals to enter the water system. In addition, recent reports suggest that radiation in the ground is contaminating the fracking fluid. This radiation has been showing up in drinking water. For more on that see the NY Times investigative article by Ian Urbina Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers.

    Surface Contamination - The gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This wastewater can be highly toxic. Holding ponds, and handling mishaps can release this toxic brew into the environment.  For some examples, see the video below about residents in Pennsylvania and the impact of fracking on their water systems. Surface evaporation of VOCs coming into contact with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators at the well site, can produce ground level ozone. Ozone plumes can travel up to 250 miles.

    For more detailed interactive image, see below.

    Horizontal fracking uses up to 300 tons of a mixture of 750 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.  To date, the oil/gas industry has been secretive about what chemicals are used, and has lobbied Congress for a variety of protections. Much of the contaminated water is taken to water treatment plants that are not designed to process the chemicals and radiation found in fracking fluids.

    In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.

    The FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemical Act) is a House bill intended to repeal the Halliburton Loophole and to require the natural gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use.

    The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress, in 1974, to ensure clean drinking water free from both natural and man-made contaminates.  Remember the days when rivers were so polluted with toxic industrial waste that they would ignite into flame?

    Here’s the introduction from the Democrats report from the Energy and Commerce Committee – Chemicals Used In Hydraulic Fracturing (N.B. click on the link at left to see the actual report and list of chemicals):
    Today Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman, Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Edward J. Markey, and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette released a new report that summarizes the types, volumes, and chemical contents of the hydraulic fracturing products used by the 14 leading oil and gas service companies. The report contains the first comprehensive national inventory of chemicals used by hydraulic fracturing companies during the drilling process.
    Hydraulic fracturing has helped to expand natural gas production in the United States, but we must ensure that these new resources don’t come at the expense of public health,” said Rep. Waxman. “This report shows that these companies are injecting millions of gallons of products that contain potentially hazardous chemicals, including known carcinogens. I urge EPA and DOE to make certain that we have strong protections in place to prevent these chemicals from entering drinking water supplies.
    With our river ways and drinking water at stake, it’s an absolute necessity that the American public knows what is in these fracking chemicals,” said Rep. Markey. “This report is the most comprehensive look yet at the composition of the chemicals used in the fracking process, and should help the industry, the government, and the American public push for a safer way to extract natural gas.
    During the last Congress, the Committee launched an investigation into the practice of hydraulic fracturing in the United States, asking the leading oil and gas service companies to disclose information on the products used in this process between 2005 and 2009.
    The Democratic Committee staff analyzed the data provided by the companies about their practices, finding that:
    • The 14 leading oil and gas service companies used more than 780 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing products, not including water added at the well site. Overall, the companies used more than 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 different chemicals and other components.
    • The components used in the hydraulic fracturing products ranged from generally harmless and common substances, such as salt and citric acid, to extremely toxic substances, such as benzene and lead. Some companies even used instant coffee and walnut hulls in their fracturing fluids.
    • Between 2005 and 2009, the oil and gas service companies used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29 chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for their risks to human health, or listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
    • The BTEX compounds – benzene, toluene, xylene, and ethylbenzene – are SDWA contaminants and hazardous air pollutants. Benzene also is a known human carcinogen. The hydraulic fracturing companies injected 11.4 million gallons of products containing at least one BTEX chemical over the five-year period.
    • Methanol, which was used in 342 hydraulic fracturing products, was the most widely used chemical between 2005 and 2009. The substance is a hazardous air pollutant and is on the candidate list for potential regulation under SDWA. Isopropyl alcohol, 2-butoxyethanol, and ethylene glycol were the other most widely used chemicals.
    • Many of the hydraulic fracturing fluids contain chemical components that are listed as “proprietary” or “trade secret.” The companies used 94 million gallons of 279 products that contained at least one chemical or component that the manufacturers deemed proprietary or a trade secret. In many instances, the oil and gas service companies were unable to identify these “proprietary” chemicals, suggesting that the companies are injecting fluids containing chemicals that they themselves cannot identify.

    How Fracking Can Effect Your Community And What You Can Do About It

    Once a communities water system is made toxic, property values plummet. Homeowners end up with homes that can’t be sold at anywhere near their original value. They are forced to live in their un-sellable homes and continue to be exposed to the toxic environment. Fracking can compromise public health and environmental quality.  The map below from the Gasland project shows where oil shale gas drilling areas are most intensive, in red.

    Here’s a more detailed map from the Energy Information Administration showing “Shale Plays.”

    The term “play” is used in the oil and gas industry to refer to a geographic area which has been targeted for exploration due to: favorable geoseismic survey results; well logs; or production results from a new or “wildcat well” in the area. An area comes into play when it is generally recognized that there is a valuable quantity of oil or gas to be found. Oil and gas companies will send out professional “land men” who research property records at the local courthouses and after having located landowners who own the mineral rights in the play area, will offer them an oil and gas lease deal. Competition for acreage usually increases based on how hot the play is in terms of production from discovery wells in the area. The more oil and gas there is to be had, the higher the lease payments per acre are.

    And money talks. Homeowners and towns can be attracted to the offer of money for exploitation of the shale. The heavy costs paid are only realized after the deal is signed – costs to the environment, increased industrial traffic through the community, attraction of outsider oil/gas workforce that can stress local community wellbeing, and of course – environmental degradation, and risk to public water systems.
    Bryan Walsh, one of my favorite environmental reporters, just published this evenhanded video that looks at some specific examples of toxic fracking related events in Pennsylvania, the heart of east coast gas extraction. While business leaders in the community enjoy the increased hotel and travel related economics, the devastating impact on homeowners and communities can be tragic.

    As the video shows, there is a growing conflict between public health interests and business interests. Anytime oil/gas is involved, big money is at stake. Big Oil spends tens of millions of dollars lobbying politicians to favor their business, often at the expense of public health and the environment. Local businesses welcome all the truckers, traffic and drilling personnel because it means increased commerce. But at what cost?

    Communities are fighting back. Do your homework and get to know about fracking. The articles below in Recommended Reading are a good start, and rent the HBO movie documentary Gasland. You will get a good background on how communities across the US are being effected. If you think your community is being impacted by fracking, the Gasland producers have setup a good website to learn more and with tips on how to Take Action, including links to elected officials, info on local organizations, and email action alerts. Remember – oil companies are funneling big money into politicians coffers to influence public policy. It will take your steady, informed, organized community voice to counter big oil special interests.

    April 11 anti-fracking protest in Albany, NY, for safe drinking water

    For ideas on how to hold your elected officials accountable, read Nicholas Kristof’s really fine article on The Power of Mockery. It highlights one of the most effective ways for grass-roots movements to speak truth to power. He also features Tina Rosenberg’s new book Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World. Kristoff offers examples of the techniques in action, including: how kids took on Big Tobacco and reduced teen smoking in Florida; the Egyptian revolution; Serbia, etc.

    I just added this excellent video by Josh Fox, calling out NY Governor Cuomo on fracking.  It is an excellent review of secret memos leaked from the gas industry, detailing how fracking system failures pollute our water resources.  Rolling Stone Magazine online has a good article calling the Governor out on fracking.

    And finally, support politicians that are committed to a strong Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    What Chemicals Are Used

    As previously noted, chemicals perform many functions in a hydraulic fracturing job.  Although there are dozens to hundreds of chemicals which could be used as additives, there are a limited number which are routinely used in hydraulic fracturing.  The following is a list of the chemicals used most often.  This chart is sorted alphabetically by the Product Function to make it easier for you to compare to the fracturing records .
    Chemical Name CAS Chemical Purpose Product Function
    Hydrochloric Acid 007647-01-0 Helps dissolve minerals and initiate cracks in the rock Acid

    Glutaraldehyde 000111-30-8 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
    Quaternary Ammonium Chloride 012125-02-9 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
    Quaternary Ammonium Chloride 061789-71-1 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
    Tetrakis Hydroxymethyl-Phosphonium Sulfate 055566-30-8 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
    Ammonium Persulfate 007727-54-0 Allows a delayed break down of the gel Breaker
    Sodium Chloride 007647-14-5 Product Stabilizer Breaker
    Magnesium Peroxide 014452-57-4 Allows a delayed break down the gel  Breaker
    Magnesium Oxide 001309-48-4 Allows a delayed break down the gel  Breaker
    Calcium Chloride 010043-52-4 Product Stabilizer Breaker
    Choline Chloride 000067-48-1 Prevents clays from swelling or shifting Clay Stabilizer
    Tetramethyl ammonium chloride 000075-57-0 Prevents clays from swelling or shifting Clay Stabilizer
    Sodium Chloride 007647-14-5 Prevents clays from swelling or shifting Clay Stabilizer
    Isopropanol 000067-63-0 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent Corrosion Inhibitor
    Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent Corrosion Inhibitor
    Formic Acid 000064-18-6 Prevents the corrosion of the pipe Corrosion Inhibitor
    Acetaldehyde 000075-07-0 Prevents the corrosion of the pipe Corrosion Inhibitor
    Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1 Carrier fluid for borate or zirconate crosslinker Crosslinker
    Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8 Carrier fluid for borate or zirconate crosslinker Crosslinker
    Potassium Metaborate 013709-94-9 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
    Triethanolamine Zirconate 101033-44-7 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
    Sodium Tetraborate 001303-96-4 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
    Boric Acid 001333-73-9 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
    Zirconium Complex 113184-20-6 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
    Borate Salts N/A Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
    Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Crosslinker
    Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Crosslinker
    Polyacrylamide 009003-05-8 “Slicks” the water to minimize friction  Friction Reducer
    Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1 Carrier fluid for polyacrylamide friction reducer Friction Reducer
    Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8 Carrier fluid for polyacrylamide friction reducer Friction Reducer
    Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Friction Reducer
    Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Friction Reducer
    Guar Gum 009000-30-0 Thickens the water in order to suspend the sand Gelling Agent
    Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1 Carrier fluid for guar gum in liquid gels Gelling Agent
    Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8 Carrier fluid for guar gum in liquid gels Gelling Agent
    Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Gelling Agent
    Polysaccharide Blend 068130-15-4 Thickens the water in order to suspend the sand Gelling Agent
    Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Gelling Agent
    Citric Acid 000077-92-9 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
    Acetic Acid 000064-19-7 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
    Thioglycolic Acid 000068-11-1 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
    Sodium Erythorbate 006381-77-7 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
    Lauryl Sulfate 000151-21-3 Used to prevent the formation of emulsions in the fracture fluid Non-Emulsifier
    Isopropanol 000067-63-0 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Non-Emulsifier
    Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Non-Emulsifier
    Sodium Hydroxide 001310-73-2 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
    Potassium Hydroxide 001310-58-3 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
    Acetic Acid 000064-19-7 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
    Sodium Carbonate 000497-19-8 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
    Potassium Carbonate 000584-08-7 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
    Copolymer of Acrylamide and Sodium Acrylate 025987-30-8 Prevents scale deposits in the pipe Scale Inhibitor
    Sodium Polycarboxylate N/A Prevents scale deposits in the pipe Scale Inhibitor
    Phosphonic Acid Salt N/A Prevents scale deposits in the pipe Scale Inhibitor
    Lauryl Sulfate 000151-21-3 Used to increase the viscosity of the fracture fluid Surfactant
    Ethanol 000064-17-5 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Surfactant
    Naphthalene 000091-20-3 Carrier fluid for the active surfactant ingredients Surfactant
    Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Surfactant
    Isopropyl Alcohol 000067-63-0 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Surfactant
    2-Butoxyethanol 000111-76-2 Product stabilizer Surfactant

    One of the problems associated with identifying chemicals is that some chemicals have multiple names.  For example Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze) is also known by the names Ethylene alcohol; Glycol; Glycol alcohol; Lutrol 9; Macrogol 400 BPC; Monoethylene glycol; Ramp; Tescol; 1,2-Dihydroxyethane; 2-Hydroxyethanol; HOCH2CH2OH; Dihydroxyethane; Ethanediol; Ethylene gycol; Glygen; Athylenglykol; Ethane-1,2-diol; Fridex; M.e.g.; 1,2-Ethandiol; Ucar 17; Dowtherm SR 1; Norkool; Zerex; Aliphatic diol; Ilexan E; Ethane-1,2-diol  1,2-Ethanedio.

    This multiplicity of names can make a search for chemicals somewhat difficult and frustrating. However, if you search for a chemical by the CAS number it will return the correct chemical even if the name on the fracturing record does not match. For example if the fracturing record listed the chemical Hydrogen chloride and you searched for it by name using a chemical search site you may not get a result. But if you search for CAS # 007647-01-0 it might return Hydrochloric acid which is another name of Hydrogen chloride. Therefore, by using the CAS number you can avoid the issue of multiple names for the same chemical.

    Multiple names for the same chemical can also leave you with the impression that there are more chemicals than actually exist.  If you search the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ‡ website the alternate names of chemicals are listed. This may help you identify the precise chemical you are looking for. The NIST site also contains the CAS numbers for chemicals. NIST is only one of many websites you can use to locate additional information about chemicals. You can also search the following websites using the chemical name or CAS number:

    OSHA/EPA Occupational Chemical Database
    The Chemical Database
    EPA Chemical Fact Sheets

    Halliburton and Cheney: An Undeniable Connection

    Former vice president Dick Cheney was never very popular with the people. This was proven even more evident from a poll conducted right before Cheney’s retirement, which put the former VP’s approval rate at an all time low, at just 13%.
    There have been very few political figures who have been so continuously loathed throughout their career. For anyone who slept through the heart of the Iraq war or spent an entire decade with a slow internet connection, here’s a reminder of just why Dick Cheney is such a despised figure.

    What is Halliburton?

    Halliburton is the worlds single largest oilfield service company currently operating in over 80 different countries. The company itself was created in 1919 but wasn’t named the Halliburton Company until 1961. In the early 1990’s Dick Cheney served as the Pentagons defense secretary until 1995, when he became CEO of Halliburton.
    Halliburton absorbed Dresser Industries in 1998. At the time, Dresser Industries was under the control of Prescott Bush. Even George H.W. Bush worked under Dresser Industries for several years until he founded the Zapata Corporation, which is also an oil company. And for anyone who needs reminding of how malevolent Prescott Bush can be, he was accused of doing finances for Nazi’s in New York City just after the end of the second world war. So all of this tells us two things: The Cheney and the Bush family really loved oil, and the only thing that could make their oil empire larger and more profitable would be: Access to more oil. 

    Cheney, Halliburton and A Lot of Money 

    While former president George W. Bush and Congress may take most of the overall blame for the War in Iraq, Cheney played a critical role in keeping it going for so long, and should be seen just as irresponsible and as greedy.
     At the turn of the 21st century, Cheney stepped down as CEO of Halliburton to run as vice president during the presidential campaign of 2000. Stepping down from the position brought Cheney a severance package worth over $36 million. This doesn’t include the stock options that Cheney owned of Halliburton. And this doesn’t even cover the millions more in revenue that Halliburton picked up since Cheney was elected as Vice President of the United States.

    Facts About the Halliburton and Cheney Connection 

    - At the end of 2003, the Associated Press reported that Iraq contractors Halliburton, Bechtel and DynCorp donated over 2.2$ million to Republican parties, specifically to the Bush campaign between 1999 and 2002.
    - While Cheney was in office, taxpayers were unknowingly paying Halliburton an average of  $2.65 a gallon to bring oil in from Iraq while the company would later resell that gallon for 4 to 15 cents to Iraq locals.
    While the factual connections between Cheney and his former company Halliburton are ridiculously obvious, it’s even more ridiculous that both were able to get away virtually unscathed. The good news is that Cheney is out of the picture, for the most part, but the lingering question remains: Who will be the next political patsy for the giant oil corporations, that will help higher-up’s profit from war?

    Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force

    By Dana Milbank and Justin Blum
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

    The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

    In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know. 

    Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.

    The task force's activities attracted complaints from environmentalists, who said they were shut out of the task force discussions while corporate interests were present. The meetings were held in secret and the White House refused to release a list of participants. The task force was made up primarily of Cabinet-level officials. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club unsuccessfully sued to obtain the records.

    Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who posed the question about the task force, said he will ask the Justice Department today to investigate. "The White House went to great lengths to keep these meetings secret, and now oil executives may be lying to Congress about their role in the Cheney task force," Lautenberg said.

    Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on the document. She said that the courts have upheld "the constitutional right of the president and vice president to obtain information in confidentiality."

    The executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are not vulnerable to charges of perjury; committee Democrats had protested the decision by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) not to swear in the executives. But a person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making "any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation" to Congress.

    Alan Huffman, who was a Conoco manager until the 2002 merger with Phillips, confirmed meeting with the task force staff. "We met in the Executive Office Building, if I remember correctly," he said. 

    A spokesman for ConocoPhillips said the chief executive, James J. Mulva, had been unaware that Conoco officials met with task force staff when he testified at the hearing. The spokesman said that Mulva was chief executive of Phillips in 2001 before the merger and that nobody from Phillips met with the task force.

    Exxon spokesman Russ Roberts said the company stood by chief executive Lee R. Raymond's statement in the hearing. In a brief phone interview, former Exxon vice president James Rouse, the official named in the White House document, denied the meeting took place. "That must be inaccurate and I don't have any comment beyond that," said Rouse, now retired.

    Ronnie Chappell, a spokesman for BP, declined to comment on the task force meetings. Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for Shell, said she did not know whether Shell officials met with the task force, but they often meet members of the administration. Chevron said its executives did not meet with the task force but confirmed that it sent President Bush recommendations in a letter.

    The person familiar with the task force's work, who requested anonymity out of concern about retribution, said the document was based on records kept by the Secret Service of people admitted to the White House complex. This person said most meetings were with Andrew Lundquist, the task force's executive director, and Cheney aide Karen Y. Knutson.

    According to the White House document, Rouse met with task force staff members on Feb. 14, 2001. On March 21, they met with Archie Dunham, who was chairman of Conoco. On April 12, according to the document, task force staff members met with Conoco official Huffman and two officials from the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, Wayne Gibbens and Alby Modiano.

    On April 17, task force staff members met with Royal Dutch/Shell Group's chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Shell Oil chairman Steven Miller and two others. On March 22, staff members met with BP regional president Bob Malone, chief economist Peter Davies and company employees Graham Barr and Deb Beaubien.

    Toward the end of the hearing, Lautenberg asked the five executives: "Did your company or any representatives of your companies participate in Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001?" When there was no response, Lautenberg added: "The meeting . . . " 

    "No," said Raymond.

    "No," said Chevron Chairman David J. O'Reilly.

    "We did not, no," Mulva said. 

    "To be honest, I don't know," said BP America chief executive Ross Pillari, who came to the job in August 2001. "I wasn't here then."

    "But your company was here," Lautenberg replied.
    "Yes," Pillari said. 

    Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, who has held his job since earlier this year, answered last. "Not to my knowledge," he said.

    Research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.
    Cheney’s Culture of Deregulation and Corruption
    SOURCE: AP/Cliff Owen

    A look at the culture of deregulation, self-regulation, and corruption ushered in on Cheney’s underscores why the BP oil catastrophe should forever be remembered as Cheney’s Katrina.

    By Joshua Dorner | June 9, 2010

    Big Oil spent millions of dollars to sweep—and keep—George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the White House. And it got its money’s worth.

    The new administration and its staunchly pro-oil congressional allies returned the favor by enacting one of the most pro-oil, anti-environment pieces of legislation in history: the Energy Policy Act of 2005—itself based on the recommendations of Cheney’s secret energy policy task force. The Bush-Cheney administration’s cozy relationship with Big Oil, however, goes much deeper than one law.

    A closer look at the culture of deregulation, self-regulation, and corruption ushered in on Cheney’s watch further underscores why the BP oil catastrophe should forever be remembered as Cheney’s Katrina.

    The poster child for Bush-Cheney crony capitalism

    The mention of Halliburton likely summons for most Americans memories of the Bush administration’s infamous no-bid Iraq war contracts—and Halliburton’s subsequent efforts to defraud taxpayers and its fatal negligence in facilities it constructed for our troops. Halliburton’s main business, however, is providing services to major oil companies such as its potentially faulty cementing job on BP’s blown out well.

    The company had an unprecedented opportunity to engage in self-dealing and create a regulatory climate favorable to its business interests when Cheney, Halliburton’s former CEO, was ensconced in the White House and still effectively on its payroll.

    The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has come to be known as the “Dick Cheney energy bill,” but there’s one provision that is so closely identified with the former vice president that it has become known as the “Cheney loophole.” The provision in question, Section 322, exempted hydraulic fracturing, a drilling process invented by Halliburton commonly known as “fracking,” from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

    The use of hydraulic fracturing has opened up vast new reserves of domestic natural gas from Texas to Wyoming to Pennsylvania, but serious environmental concerns about the process have been raised following numerous cases of groundwater contamination after nearby drilling. The exemption has placed the burden to rein in drillers largely on state regulators that are often unable or simply unwilling to police the thousands of wells that have been drilled in recent years.

    Cheney not only offered permanent regulatory relief and rolled back existing environmental laws to help the oil industry. This particular example also demonstrates the administration’s willingness to distort science to benefit Big Oil and others. A 2004 Environmental Protection Agency study declared that fracking posed no significant threat to drinking water, thus paving the way for Congress to pass the Cheney loophole. The integrity of the 2004 study has been called into serious question, and a broad new Obama EPA study on the practice is raising the ire of the oil and gas industry.

    The one exception to the Cheney loophole was a ban on injecting diesel fuel into wells. Yet a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation revealed that the drilling companies violated this single restriction with impunity during the Bush-Cheney years. And oil and gas interests have launched a public relations and lobbying campaign to prevent Congress from closing the Cheney loophole or imposing other regulations.

    There have been two serious accidents involving onshore natural gas wells in the past week alone. A Pennsylvania well had a blowout and one in West Virginia exploded.

    Categorically excluding oversight

    One of the 2005 Energy Policy Act provisions that is most directly related to the BP oil catastrophe is Section 390, which dramatically expanded the circumstances under which new drilling permits could be approved without further environmental reviews or assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act. Many appear to have been approved based almost completely on responses to yes or no questions on pro forma checklists.

    The Minerals Management Service approved BP’s blown out Mississippi Canyon 252 well using just such a “categorical exclusion.” BP was even lobbying to further expand use of such exemptions just 11 days before Deepwater Horizon exploded.

    And expanding the use of such exclusions for onshore drilling is potentially devastating for some areas of the Intermountain West. A 2009 investigation by the Government Accountability Office found that the Bureau of Land Management, the agency responsible for issuing drilling permits on federal lands, engaged in widespread abuse of categorical exclusions during the final two years of the Bush-Cheney administration. The report stated that the use of so-called “Section 390 categorical exclusions” created by the 2005 energy bill was “frequently out of compliance with both the law and BLM’s guidance.”

    The GAO report found that the BLM approved nearly 6,100 permits from 2006 to 2008 using the new exemptions carved out by Cheney and his congressional allies. Field offices in Wyoming approved 2,462 such permits. In fact, the Pinedale, Wyoming BLM office alone granted an extraordinary 1,498 permits using Section 390 exclusions. This is more drilling permits than there were residents of the town in 2000—1412. Ground level ozone levels, largely related to the drilling boom in the area, measured in the tiny central Wyoming town have at times exceeded those of downtown Los Angeles. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar luckily announced onshore drilling reforms in January 2010 designed to end the abuse of Cheney exclusions on public lands.

    But dramatic budget cuts and a lack of resources meanwhile prompted the BLM to briefly impose a moratorium on all new solar energy permits in 2008. The moratorium, which some argued would’ve killed the nascent solar industry, was eventually lifted after a massive outcry by industry officials, congressional leaders, and environmentalists.

    A mile high at the Minerals Management Service

    The culture of corruption and ethical lapses across the entire Bush-Cheney Department of the Interior is well documented. But the Minerals Management Service appears to have experienced a particularly stunning depth and breadth of corruption and simple incompetence. GAO reports have documented almost unbelievable allegations of drug use and improper relationships, payments, and gifts between Bush-Cheney-era MMS employees and the oil and gas industry that they were charged with overseeing.

    The most recent GAO report, detailing problems in the Lake Charles, Louisiana office of the MMS, notes that the report’s findings were turned over the U.S. attorney for the western district of Louisiana in October 2009 and that the office declined to prosecute any of those involved in what would plainly appear to be numerous violations of the law.

    The U.S. attorney for the western district of Louisiana from October 2001 to January 2010 was Donald Washington. His official Department of Justice biography noted that he had practiced “toxic tort litigation,” “held a variety of positions with Conoco Inc from 1982-1996,” and “served as Chief Counsel for Conoco’s Gulf of Mexico Division until his departure from Conoco in 1996.”

    Washington has since returned to private practice in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he may again find himself involved in the ongoing catastrophe. The press release touting his hire at the firm Jones & Walker notes that he “will focus on complex civil litigation, federal and state criminal investigations, regulatory enforcement actions, and internal investigations and compliance programs in such industries as health care, maritime, and energy.”

    Catastrophic cronyism

    The so-called environmental assessments that laid the foundation for approving permits without further review were fatally flawed under the Bush-Cheney years—in addition to violating both the spirit and the letter of the law.

    The last meaningful environmental review of any kind standing between BP and drilling at the Mississippi Canyon 252 site should have been the October 2007 Minerals Management Service environmental assessment of the “Proposed Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sale 206.” But just six words—splashed in bold capital letters across the top of the report’s first page—paved the way for what is now the worst environmental calamity in the history of the United States: FINDING OF NO NEW SIGNIFICANT IMPACT.

    The assessment points out that Hurricanes Rita and Katrina rendered beaches and marshes more vulnerable to spills, but it still concluded that the potential for a damaging spill as a result of leasing the 5,569 drilling blocks contained in proposed sale 206 was basically nil:

    Concerns were raised related to…the potential effects of oil spills on tourism, emergency response capabilities, spill prevention…accidental discharges from both deepwater blowouts and pipeline ruptures…The fate and behavior of oil spills, availability and adequacy of oil-spill containment and cleanup technologies, oil-spill cleanup strategies, impacts of various oil-spill cleanup methods, effects of weathering on oil spills, toxicological effects of fresh and weathered oil, air pollution associated with spilled oil, and short-term and long-term impacts of oil on wetlands…Offshore oil spills resulting from proposed Lease Sale 206 are not expected to damage significantly any wetlands along the Gulf Coast.

    The assessment also includes one passage that reads like something of a death certificate for the gulf’s coastal communities:

    Accidental events associated with proposed Lease Sale 206 such as oil or chemical spills, blowouts, and vessel collisions would have no effects on the demographic characteristics of the Gulf coastal communities…As inland marshes and barrier islands erode or subside, without effective restoration efforts, the population in coastal communities in southern Louisiana is expected to shift to the more northern portions of the parishes and cause increasing populations in urban and suburban areas and declining populations in rural coastal areas.

    Given that they appear to have considered the decline of the Gulf Coast’s communities a foregone conclusion, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Bush-Cheney administration officials exercised so little care in attempting to prevent an accident like the catastrophe now unfolding.

    Cheney’s direct role in this situation of regulatory capture and failure could not be clearer. Randall Luthi signed the so-called environmental review for the proposed lease sale 206. He is a longtime Cheney insider who was installed as director of the Minerals Management Service in 2007. Luthi, who was once Cheney’s intern, went on to hold various positions in several Republican administrations before returning to his native Wyoming.

    Luthi is currently the president of the National Ocean Industries Association, whose stated mission is “to secure reliable access and a fair regulatory and economic environment for the companies that develop the nation’s valuable offshore energy resources in an environmentally responsible manner.” Just yesterday, he called on the Obama administration to lift new restrictions on drilling in the gulf, even in face of the ever-growing economic and environmental disaster that he had a direct role in allowing to happen.

    The Bush-Cheney administration made an unprecedented effort from beginning to end to rewrite our nation’s laws and rules to benefit their allies in the oil industry. They installed incompetent or corrupt cronies in important regulatory and oversight positions. And what they could not achieve legally, the administration pursued by other means.

    Major Federal Fracking Legislation Introduced -- Return of the FRAC

    Posted by Maggie Clarke on March 16, 2011

    Yesterday, the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act was re-introduced in both the House and Senate.  The House bill (H.R. 1084) was introduced by Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and Jared Polis (D-CO) and has 31 co-sponsors to date.  Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced the companion Senate bill (S. 587), with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) as original co-sponsors.  Congresswoman DeGette and Senator Casey were the lead sponsors of the FRAC Act in the previous Congress.

    The legislation would repeal the current exemption for hydraulic fracturing under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the SDWA to preclude EPA from regulating the underground injection of fluids (other than diesel fuel) for hydraulic fracturing purposes.  In repealing the exemption, the FRAC Act would require disclosure of the chemical constituents used in the fracking process, but not the proprietary chemical formula (an emergency provision is included requiring disclosure of the proprietary chemical formula if the information is needed for the provision of medical treatment).  Under both bills, disclosure would be to the State regulatory agencies (or to EPA, if EPA has primary enforcement responsibility in the State) and the chemical additives would be made publicly-available online.

    Senator Casey introduced two other drilling-related bills on Tuesday, commenting, "[n]atural gas drilling offers Pennsylvania tremendous economic opportunities if we do it right."  Senator Casey's S. 589, the Faster Action Safety Team Emergency Response (FASTER) Act authorizes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to draft regulations to strengthen emergency response procedures at oil and gas wells.  S. 588, the Marcellus Shale On-the-Job Training Act, authorizes grants to strengthen on-site training programs for the natural gas drilling and production industry to "ensure the jobs are going to Pennsylvanians."

    Overview: H.R.1084 
    Sponsor: Rep. DeGette, Diana [D-CO-1] (Introduced 03/15/2011)
    Cosponsors: 73
    Latest Action: 03/21/2011 Referred to the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.
    Major Recorded Votes: There are no Roll Call votes for this bill

    Federal Legislation Aims to Close “Fracking Loopholes”

    March 14, 2013 | 6:24 PM
    Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania
    An active drill site in Tioga County.

    Pennsylvania Representative Matthew Cartwright (D-17) has introduced legislation to remove oil and gas industry exemptions from the federal Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Cartwright is from Scranton, and his district stretches over six counties including Schuylkill, Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, and Northampton County.

    The “FRESHER” Act would remove federal regulatory exemptions related to storm water run-off at drill sites. And the “BREATHE” Act would require air emissions generated by the oil and gas industry be subject to federal aggregation regulations.
    “The lack of oversight and permitting of storm water in the oil and gas industry represents a danger to the nation’s waterways and other key assets. This is especially true in areas where hydraulic fracturing has increased in prevalence,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright in a press release. “Both of these pieces of legislation are common sense and I urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to get on board.”

    Senate Republicans take aim at Obama gas ‘fracking’ regulations

    By Ben Geman - 03/29/12 09:36 AM ET

    Senior Senate Republicans are floating legislation that would slam the brakes on Obama administration efforts to expand regulation of the controversial oil-and-gas drilling method called “hydraulic fracturing” on federal lands.
    Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, is the lead sponsor, and the seven other backers include Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the top GOP member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

    The bill is unlikely to advance but will provide Republicans another rallying point for allegations that President Obama’s Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency have an overzealous agenda that will stymie development.

    The bill introduced Wednesday requires that only states may regulate hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking” —– on federal lands within their borders.

    “States better understand their unique geologies and interests,” Inhofe said when introducing the measure. 

    Fracking involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations to open up seams that enable trapped gas to flow.

    The bill arrives ahead of a planned Interior Department proposal that would require disclosure of chemical ingredients used in fracking on public lands, and also create new requirements regarding well integrity and wastewater management.

    President Obama touted the upcoming rules in his Jan. 24 State of the Union speech in which he strongly endorsed expanded natural gas development.

    “My administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade,” Obama said. “And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use, because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”

    Separately, EPA is working on new air-emissions rules for oil-and-gas drilling, including wells developed through fracking. EPA is also conducting a major study of how fracking might affect drinking water.

    A 2005 energy law largely exempts fracking from Safe Drinking Water Act regulation, but environmentalists and some Democrats are seeking to overturn the provision.

    Fracking is enabling a natural gas production boom — much of it on state and private lands — in many regions but is bringing fears of water pollution alongside it.

    Energy industry officials, Republicans and conservative Democrats say the method is safe and well-regulated at the state level.

    The new bill states:

    "A State shall have the sole authority to promulgate or enforce any regulation, guidance, or permit requirement regarding the underground injection of fluids or propping agents pursuant to the hydraulic fracturing process, or any component of that process, relating to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities on or under any land within the boundaries of the State."


    There has been no legislation to date I can find that prevents the tens of thousands of fracture drilling sites from continuing to pump its toxic slurry into the hydrology of the United States.  It is clear to any thinking individual that the "Corporation," has its fingers in all decisions and policies both foreign and domestic.  They rewrite environmental regulations as best benefits those who paid for them being in office.  We all suffer in the end.  Fracture drilling pumps tens of thousands of water and known deadly chemicals into the ground each time they "frack," a well.  A typical well is fracked numerous times over its service life.  Only half of the fracking chemicals ever are extracted.  Most remain permanently in the now shattered water table for the decades to come.  Those chemicals that are extracted are often disposed of thru "evaporation spraying," which only releases air born poisons into the atmosphere.  Bush/Chaney excluded this process from any federal oversight.  This blatant and flagrant act of environmental terrorism will in decades to come render our ground water unfit for human consumption.  The money trail is obvious and the consequences catastrophic.  

    all articles supplied by Neo

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