What the Frack!

The war over a natural gas production technology flames up

Viewers of Gasland, a new documentary about the alleged sins of the natural gas industry, are treated to some impressive pyrotechnics when a homeowner lights his tap water on fire. The man claims his drinking water has been contaminated by a nearby natural gas well that was drilled using the hydraulic fracturing technique, also known as fracking. Fracking received further critical media scrutiny in November when the CBS investigative program 60 Minutes featured a segment on the Pennsylvania town of Dimock where residents assert their groundwater has been polluted by fracked natural gas wells. As the tide of protests against fracking rose, New York Gov. David Paterson (D) earlier this month ordered a seven month moratorium on new fracked natural gas wells.

Fracking is a process in which a mixture of water, sand, and other additives are pumped under high pressure to create fractures in rock formations to release trapped oil and gas. About 100,000 wells using fracking technology are drilled worldwide each year. In the case of natural gas, fractures are propped open by the sand, allowing trapped gas to flow into the wellbore and rise to the surface for collection. The technique gives drillers access to gas trapped in vast deep shale formations such as the Marcellus Shale which stretches more than 5,000 feet underground through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Until new horizontal drilling techniques combined with fracking were developed, extracting gas from shale was uneconomical.

The main environmental concern is that fracking contaminates groundwater. But is that so? In September, the environmental activist group Riverkeeper issued a report, Fractured Communities [PDF], in which the group claimed to have assembled “hundreds of case studies demonstrating that industrial gas drilling, including horizontal drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, results in significant adverse environmental impacts.” The report is right that natural gas drilling can harm the environment, but the crucial question is does fracking, per se, endanger the environment, especially groundwater.

Most of the fracking fluids stay well underground once injected, but some flow back out as “produced water.” This water contains some of the chemicals used to make fracking fluids as well as various dissolved salts picked up from the shale itself. In fact, spills of this produced water have contaminated ground and surface water. Currently, most of the produced water is trucked to treatment plants which remove these contaminants from the water before it is discharged into waterways.

One oft-voiced complaint is that drilling companies are suspiciously cagey about just what chemicals are contained in their proprietary fracking fluids. In general, fracking fluids are 99.5 percent water and sand. Some chemicals are added to prevent corrosion, reduce friction, and kill fouling bacteria. Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a new study to investigate the possible relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. All nine of the leading drilling companies have agreed to tell the agency the chemical recipes of their fracking fluids. The agency expects the study to be completed by 2012.

In the meantime several states, including Wyoming, Arkansas, and New York, are requiring that drilling companies release information on the makeup of their fracking fluids. In November, Halliburton, one of the bigger drilling companies, announced its new CleanStim product, a fracking fluid formulated using ingredients sourced from the food industry.

Not surprisingly, the natural gas industry asserts that fracking is safe—and that it is vital to unlocking vast new domestic supplies of natural gas from shale formations. A 2008 report by the Groundwater Protection Council, a nonprofit organization whose members consist of state groundwater regulatory agencies, found that the layers of impermeable rock over top of the Marcellus Shale act as a barrier so that the water and chemicals used in fracking could not migrate upward into groundwater aquifers. In addition, a September 2010 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reviewed its complaint database and concluded “that no groundwater pollution [PDF] or disruption of underground sources of drinking water have been attributed to hydraulic fracturing of deep gas formations.”

So if fracking is not the cause of flaming tap water and groundwater pollution in Dimock and elsewhere, what is?

Since 2006, Cabot Oil and Gas has drilled nearly 60 wells in a nine square mile area around Dimock, using the fracking technique. In January, 2009 several homeowners noticed that water from their wells was now bubbling. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection investigated and concluded that natural gas was in fact migrating from several Cabot gas wells into local groundwater and into homeowners’ wells. But poor well construction was to blame. A properly cased well prevents drilling fluids, fracking fluids, or natural gas from seeping into an aquifer and contaminating groundwater. The casing also prevents groundwater from leaking into the well where it could interfere with the gas production process.

In Dimock, gas was escaping through defective casings and cement that lined some of Cabot’s gas wells. To make matters worse, in September 2010, Cabot spilled 8,000 gallons of stored fracking fluids which drained into nearby Stevens Creek. Earlier this month, Cabot agreed to pay affected homeowners more than $4 million which amounts to twice the value of their houses. Cabot’s blunders illustrate an important point: Fracking, that is, the actual act of fracturing the shale below Dimock, did not directly pollute ground and surface waters. Of course, without fracking technology, there would have been no gas wells in the Dimock area.

Just how big are the stakes in the fight over fracking? In its Annual Energy Outlook 2011 [PDF] report, the Energy Information Administration estimates that the United States possesses 2,552 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of potential natural gas resources, of which for 827 Tcf resides in shale formations. Shale gas reserves are more than double the estimate published last year. The EIA notes that at the 2009 rate of U.S. consumption (about 22.8 Tcf per year), 2,552 Tcf of natural gas is enough to supply approximately 110 years of use. The EIA further notes that shale gas supplied 14 percent of the gas used in the U.S. in 2009 and projects that it will constitute 45 percent of U.S. total natural gas supply in 2035. In addition, burning natural gas produces half the greenhouse gases that coal does and the EIA projects that supplies will be so abundant that the price should remain low for the next 20 years. That’s if fracking is not banned.

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.

Disclosure: I receive royalties totaling about $1,000 per year from conventional natural gas wells in West Virginia.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Disclosure: I receive royalties totaling about $1,000 per year from conventional natural gas wells in West Virginia.

    Well then, we cannot trust anything you say.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Bailey would get greater royalty income if fracking were prohibited. The potential for oversupply from shale gas and coal seam gas has depressed the North American market.

  • Shale Deposit||

    Frack me? Well, frack you!

  • EPA||

    This is fracking ridiculous.

  • Hipster Douchenozzle||

    Frack and Fuck sound similar. Hey, that's funny!

  • Little Fockers||

    It gets old quick.

  • Yeah||

    The only sequel titles remaining to that franchise are Mother Fokkers and, of course, Fokk You.

  • Ben Stiller||

    I don't know... I'm thinking about the next installment as a commentary on gay erotica and Democratic politics, entitled "Focked in the Ass". Starring an all male cast, including Rob Lowe and Barney Frank.

  • Barney The Frank||

    I am game. I'll do all my own stunts!

  • Barney The Frank||

    No remarks about being stunted.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Fokkers U (kids go to college).

  • Bucky||

    C'mon:
    Crazy Fokkers: De Niro gets put into a old folks home against his will.
    Have Yourself Fokker Little Christmas: fill in the blank.
    Dirty Little Fokkers: the kids grow up and open a combo Dry Cleaners and Porno Shop.
    and
    There Goes The Fokker Neighborhood: A natural gas company comes to town and fracks up the water in town's backyard pools

  • Kara Thrace||

    It allows us to vent our frustration at the Cylons while maintaining the piety that Xtian-motivated science fiction requires.

  • Col Tigh||

    Jesus...

  • Boomer||

    So say we all

  • GroundTruth||

    I'm glad that I didn't have to be the one to bring up the fraking obvious BSG linkage!

  • Jack of all Threads||

    It’s Time to Rethink the Charity Deduction

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12......html?_r=1

  • cynical||

    Absolutely. Instead, we should drop the income tax and tax consumption. Since charitable giving is not consumption, there would be no need for a "deduction".

  • robc||

    I don’t think it says anywhere in the Bible that tithing should be calculated on a before-tax basis.

    Actually, that is what I have heard every minister argue that "first fruits" means.

    Tithing comes from gross, becuase that is the "first fruits".

    Some might disagree, but no preacher when asking for money has ever said anything different in the history of the universe.

  • Bucky||

    i'm not clear on this but, what is the gub'mint subsidy if the person in the 36% tax bracket goes under because of our "business friendly" economy and can't give to charity?

  • Bigot Shale||

    What a bunch of Frackgots.

  • Matt||

    As a petroleum engineer I find much of the concern over fracking laughable, as do most that I work with. Sure, it's hard to say with complete certainty that fracking is not the cause of the issues noted in Gasland without examining the individual well, but, based on my experience, it seems beyond unlikely. For one, nearly every well drilled in the US for the last 30 years has been fracture stimulated (we're talking 10's of thousands of wells). Were than any serious threat to ground water, it seems that the incident rate should be orders of magnitude higher than what opponents cite. Secondly, fracks rarely grow more than 100' or so vertically, if they even grow out of the targeted zone at all. Since water is more abundant than natural gas underground, water reserves are often found thousands of feet shallower than oil and gas reserves. As result, a poor cement job on the casing (like you mention in the article) seems a far more likely culprit in any circumstance where communication is actually demonstrated.

  • Random Dude||

    Agreed.

    They just found out now that this was happening and that Halliburton was somehow involved and it's like legislative candy for the morons.

    If this were a problem (and it's not) we would have had a bonanza of problems for 30 years now.

  • ||

    yea i can see where halliburton involvement is no cause for concern?! just ask BP...

  • Bucky||

    when i first heard about Gasland i wanted to know about the guy who made it. searched on the internet and low and behold he is a failed playwright and low budget movie producer/writer (oh sorry, read Independent)trying to ride on Mr. Bowling For Sikko's coattails. his other foray into film was a horrible flop about... wait for it... our troops from Iraq home on leave and how hedonistic and brutal the are and oh yeah, they just happen to work at an Iraqi prison,(timing is everything in this business). no, he is not a scientist and doesn't have an axe to grind he just wants to be Fabulously Envirmentally Famous, Dahling!

  • Liberal||

    Take your facts and please leave this conversation.

  • Rhett Butler Shale||

    Fracktly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

  • Tootie and Blair Shale||

    The Fracts of Life

  • ||

    Ronald Bailey is really sharp for getting this right. The laws of physics do not allow for the deep shale frac’s to penetrate all the way up into the freshwater zones. The shale is generally at least a mile below the freshwater zones. The most fracture growth you can get is a couple hindered feet vertically. Poor well design allows for uncompleted shallow gas zones (behind pipe) to communicate up the backside of the well casing and then enter the freshwater aquifers. Proper well design makes this virtually impossible.
    Indecently, Frack isn't a word, Frac is the correct spelling. It's an abbreviation of "hydraulic fracturing".

  • ||

    sh: In re: spelling. As wikipedia notes: Hydraulic fracturing (called "frac jobs" or "frac'ing" in the industry, with the spelling "fracking" being common in media reports) is a process that results in the creation of fractures in rocks....

  • the right does it too||

    As usual, the media can't even get something as simple as a name correct.

  • Liberal||

    Enough with the facts! They're getting in the way of my emotions!

  • Old Mexican||

    One oft-voiced complaint is that drilling companies are suspiciously cagey about just what chemicals are contained in their proprietary fracking fluids.

    Hey, that's an IP issue, which should be close the heart of every statist fuck worth his salt, including professional complainers/enviros.

  • Statist||

    Whatever. It won't be a problem once we nationalize the oil companies.

  • creech||

    Disclosure: I receive about $400/mo. from limited partnership that drills gas wells.
    Pennsylvania sees this successful new industry as the golden-egg laying goose. It already taxes the corporation profits or profits passed through to partners. It already taxes
    the royalties the land owner receives.
    It already gets royalties for gas taken from state owned land. No, it wants more - some for potential environmental cleanup and the rest for general revenue. Since when it is fair for a state to look around and pile extra taxes on successful businesses? If the farmers are doing well, due to enthanol, should a special tax be levied on bushels of corn? If a new steel maker moves into a state, should it pay additional taxes not levied on less successful
    businesses?
    I'd be fine with an environmental fee, put into a trust fund, and used only if pollution occurs and needs to be cleaned up. Otherwise, tax gas drilling like any other business.

  • ||

    How go I get $400/month? I want in!

    And I really don't give two shits if some rocks crack in the process. Hell, for $4000/month sheltered as long-term capital gains, you can pulverize Mt. Rushmore for all I care.

  • ||

    And yes, I'm serious! Just don't fuck with the pheasant hunting in South Dakota, and I'm good.

  • ||

    Barry D: In September, while I was minding my own business driving through the lovely South Dakota countryside, a damned Chinese ring-necked pheasant committed suicide by ramming into the front grille of my 1996 Jaguar. It cost a couple of hundred bucks to fix.

  • Troll||

    Hey Ron,

    Did you see that documentary about fracking? Neighbors had flammable water coming out of their sink. Was that a fraud? Because I saw that documentary before I ever heard of fracking and it freaked me out.

  • Troll||

    Disregard. It must be the new meds.

  • Sgt. Bunker||

    See, see! it was a Chiiiineeese pheasant! I bet it was trained North Korea and smuggled across in Mexico. Watch your back Ron!

  • ||

    If we were smart, we would enact some reasonable regulation on the industry now to ensure that the fracking process is conducted safely and properly by all the players who want to enter the field.

    If we aren't smart, we will give in to industry lobbyists and have little or no precautionary regulation and rely on the old chestnut of "self-policing," which will lead to a few bad actors causing major problems, which will lead to over-reaction and bad regulation, plus ad hoc and inefficient supplemental regulation by lawsuit.

    Place your bets, please. Place your bets.

  • ||

    You could be on smart, but that might end up being Maxwell Smart.

  • Agent 86||

    Missed it by that much.

  • Old Mexican||

    And if "we" were really smart, "we" would not listen to Danny or anybody of his ilk, as "enact[ing] some reasonable [sic] regulation on the industry now to ensure that the fracking process is conducted safely and properly by all the players who want to enter the field" would simply close the doors to competing companies and allow the "regulated" industries to flourish artificially, contra the market.

  • ||

    Nobody has a right to "compete" by foregoing safety precautions that a democratically-accountable government deems necessary to prevent avoidable deaths, injuries, illnesses and harms to public and private property.

    There are things far worse than "barriers to entry" - flaming tap water being one of them.

  • seguin||

    If you'd read the article, you'd know that frac'ing had little or nothing to do with flaming tapwater. Presumably, there are already regulations on well casing.

  • sevo||

    Danny|12.21.10 @ 8:09PM|#
    "Nobody has a right to "compete" by foregoing safety precautions that a democratically-accountable government deems necessary to prevent avoidable deaths, injuries, illnesses and harms to public and private property...."
    Sorry, fail, Danny.
    Read the 5th amendment; it's there to protect us from assholes like you and your 'democratic' mob rule.

  • ||

    Ah, the old "constitution in exile." Somehow, the 5th prevents gas companies from having to keep tapwater safe?

    Good luck with that, Galt.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Danny,

    Nobody has a right to "compete" by foregoing safety precautions that a democratically-accountable government deems necessary to prevent avoidable deaths, injuries, illnesses and harms to public and private property.

    But if there's no democratically-accountable government, then everybody has a right to compete foregoing such safeguards, right?

    You're indulging in Question Begging, Danny-boy.

    There are things far worse than "barriers to entry" - flaming tap water being one of them[.]

    "Flaming tap water"? Really? Is that like a Flaming Moe?

  • ||

    To find out you caaaaaannnnn ...

    .... start by watching the documentary for yourself, hosetube!

  • The Royal We||

    If you were smart, you would know that "were" and "aren't" aren't mutually exclusive and that you haven't offered us any option which means we are smart now.

  • ||

    Being really smart doesn't mean slathering on a layer of regulation, bureaucracy, regulatory capture, corruption, market closure, and the like.

    Being really smart means holding companies that can be shown to pollute groundwater liable for the damage they have done.

  • ||

    The corporate veil and bankruptcy law make that a false promise from the get-go.

    Unless every individual investor is liable to their bottom dollar without the benefit of a Chapter 7 discharge, your idea (which just amounts to regulation by lawsuit anyway) is only notional.

    Even homicide squads could be corrupted. That doesn't mean we legalize murder. "Capture" and whatnot are unavoidable risks of governance, and why we have democracy.

  • sevo||

    Danny|12.21.10 @ 8:06PM|#
    "The corporate veil and bankruptcy law make that a false promise from the get-go."
    Every "progressive" asshole makes similar claims; got evidence?
    Didn't think so.

  • ||

    Start by actually watching the documentary before you shoot off your cake-hole.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Danny,

    The corporate veil and bankruptcy law make that a false promise from the get-go.

    You mean as they are right now, or ever and ever and ever?

    Unless every individual investor is liable to their bottom dollar without the benefit of a Chapter 7 discharge, your idea (which just amounts to regulation by lawsuit anyway) is only notional.

    Would that preclude liability insurance, Danny, or are you hellbent on making people liable to the last penny regardless?

    Even homicide squads could be corrupted. That doesn't mean we legalize murder.

    ... Or that we legalize homicide squads, but there they are... courtesy of that "democratically-accountable government" you're so sanguine about.

    "Capture" and whatnot are unavoidable risks of governance, and why we have democracy.

    The second part of your statement is a non sequitur [that means "it does not follow," Danny-boy.]

  • ||

    Oh? So you want to mandate liability insurance? That's one way to go. I think $50M per well should do the trick.

    But don't fool yourself. Now it's just regulation-by-actuary instead of regulation-by-regulator or regulation-by-judge.

    There is no way around regulation. It's just a question of who does the regulating. Private or public; democratically accountable or not.

  • The Constitution||

    Damn, I can't find the word "Democracy" anywhere. All I can find is the word "Republic".

  • ||

    Which constitution? There's one at the federal level, and fifty more at the state level. Let know when you get finished reading them all. Then we can revisit your stupid little semantic nothingness-quip again.

    Have fun!

  • Billy Beck||

    Danny's down for state's rights.

    Noted in the record.

  • Old Mexican||

    The report is right that natural gas drilling can harm the environment,

    ... which would be quite an achivement, comparable to killing The God, or destroying The Universe.

    Or, do they mean "the local environment"? Maybe they don't want t clarify by saying that because it doesn't sound so bad.

  • ||

    OM: Don't you care about the local gods?

  • Old Mexican||

    Only when they deliver.

    ;-)

  • Old Mexican||

    Since 2006, Cabot Oil and Gas has drilled nearly 60 wells in a nine square mile area around Dimock, using the fracking technique. In January, 2009 several homeowners noticed that water from their wells was now bubbling[...]


    Which they quickly bottled and sold as Dimock Spring Water.
  • ||

    LOL

    If I owned property, and suddenly there was a nice big gas well there, I probably wouldn't mind a whole lot...

  • Han Solo||

    Damn Dimocks. *blast* *rumble* What was that?

  • Hacha Cha||

    I think that for the most part this is a good thing for PA, I do live right around where this stuff is going on. If you want to see what real environmental damage looks like, check out the coal region, but even that isn't so bad for the most part. The 19 people from Dimock got to share a $4.1 million settlement. The politicians say jobs are a priority and then they want to kill off any new innovative jobs that might sprout up in PA like fracking or four loko. As long as the fracking companies are held liable when they damage others property, (I hope the water they take out of the Susquehanna is done wisely) then there is no reason to stop it or discourage it.

  • ||

    The 19 people from Dimock got to share a $4.1 million settlement.

    Wow. I'm drilling a well under my own house tonight. When my toilet catches on fire, I'll file suit against...Exxon or something and the richie-riche$ are mine...all fracking fucking mine!

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    If you want to see what real environmental damage looks like, check out the coal region, but even that isn't so bad for the most part.

    Agreed. If people want to see what the alternative is (until we go to nuclear), there's an MTR mine a couple miles from my house. I'll take the dangers of fracking any day over blowing off the tops of mountains.

  • ||

    Anyone see the CSI show that featured fracking? Normally that show has the good sense to stay away from really crazy stuff, but they went full on "TEH GAS CORPORATIONS CONSPIRACY!!" There were wells exploding and livestock dying and everyone in the area sick and dying.

    All I could wonder the whole episode was, if things are so bad where were the lawyers in all this? They would have smelled the money miles away and descended on that place like a flock vultures.

  • SIV||

    Water in Natchitoches and Shreveport LA tastes just fine. I've done a bit of work in and around those (and other) gas fields

  • ||

    Have some BSG fracks hier.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Let the bastards freeze in the dark.

  • Sidd Finch||

    "In addition, burning natural gas produces half the greenhouse gases that coal does"

    FYI, this is based on heating values. When you consider how natural gas is used (direct heating, gas turbines, combined cycle plants) it probably produces less than 25% the CO2 that coal would.

  • ||

    How disappointing.
    I'm expecting an article about Battlestar Galactica and I get fracked again.
    I just realized I am going to have to watch the whole series again. Here I though they meant fuck everytime they said frack when they were really talking about natuaral gas drilling.

  • Wind Rider||

    Got a personal stake in observing expected hilarity with regard to fracking. Spent the last year up in Western PA on some land over the Marcellus formation - step son with dreams of hitting it big from gas. I wish him the best of luck of course, but I suspect his dreams will turn into a nightmare, for the same reason I no longer live on the property. The next door neighbor is his mother in law, and she's crazier than a loon, with hypocondria being the least of her long, long list of problems. The second he cuts a deal to get a company out there with a rig, I'm sure the symptoms will manifest, and even though it's family, I have little doubt the lawsuits will be flying shortly thereafter, merited or not. My take on the whole thing, as I said, is "good luck, kid". Although I'm tempted to anonymously alert the old bat to the existence of "Gasland" just to stir the pot a bit.

  • ||

    For selfish motives, I hope fracking is as benign as its proponents claim, and that Arkansas regulators institute drilling policies accordingly. My wife owns mineral rights on a couple of properties that sit above the Fayetteville shale.

  • ||

    You've stumbled onto a major factor in the mineral extraction industry and it's inherent issues.

    It's not often that gas (or oil) extraction occurs in an area that was heretofor unknown for it's oil/gas plays. Most extraction took place as far back as the '30's and the (re)retrieval today is due to better technology, getting the gas from old plays that were unextractable until now.

    Most, if not all, the landholders in these areas are not neophytes when it comes to mineral law, and most of the land in question has been leased before. The problem(s) often arise where property ownes and mineral right owners are not one and the same. In my area there are few property owners that own their mineral rights, and hence receive nothing when oil and gas exploration hits paydirt.

    Mineral laws vary, of course, but in nearly all instances a property owner cannot forbid exploration on his property, even when he will not be rewarded if the location comes in. He will be reimbursed for the "footprint" to drill and maintain a well, but not on the proceeds of the well, unless he also owns the mineral rights. Tell that to a farmer with an oil/gas well bisecting his back 80, replete with 1/4 mile of gravel road with 24/7 access to the well head for service (and every other hunter/tresspasser who feels like a drive).

    Here in Michigan we have had cases where wells were/are drilled 150' from a dwelling, with no recourse to the home owner. Look out your bedroom window at a drilling team for 10/12 months, then smell the burn off of sour gas the rest of your life to feel his pain.

    The issue tentacles are many when dealing with mineral extraction, and the (sometimes) huge compenstions most often go to people who pay little price for the results.

  • robc||

    Solution: dont sell off your mineral rights and/or dont buy property in which you dont also get the mineral rights.

  • ||

    Reality: You have just disenfranchised anyone who came late to the table, years, maybe decades after the first mineral purchase, can only afford a minimal property footprint, and is left hostage to the large property holdings which effect the drilling units. Doesn't he also have individual private property rights to ensure his investment is not adversely effected by declining values?

  • Billy Beck||

    He should have been clear on that before he bought.

  • ||

    BTW, PA just updated casing regulations, with the support of most of the gas industry. The new regulations should go into effect in the next couple of months. The traditional oil and gas industry frac's wells at 1000' or less, with no casing below 500'. These "open hole fracs" have been happening for 40 years and are much more theoreticaly likely to harm the groundwater then the newer deep frac'ing.

  • ||

    Funny how this all coincides with China saying their next generation of cars & trucks will run on Natural Gas. Also major oil companies are now investing in Natural Gas. The first story of Natural Gas poisioning the water supplies popped the week after I read about China & the oil companies. This was the beginning of November. I wonder when the MSM and the U.N. will jump on the bandwagon demonizing Natural Gas!

  • ||

    I did not see the "60 Minutes" episode on Dimock, Pa but your article compounds misconceptions about fracking in this instance. The wells in Dimock that were contaminated by Cabot Gas were contaminated before the fracking process ever began. They were contaminated in the vertical drilling process because of poor casing around the vertical piping. That is a fact acknowledged by the State and the gas company, although often misstated by drilling opponents. Staying with "Reason", we have to stay with facts as well. You have to know the facts to correctly assess blame.

  • ||

    TheP: I don't understand your comment. I did report:
    The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection investigated and concluded that natural gas was in fact migrating from several Cabot gas wells into local groundwater and into homeowners’ wells. But poor well construction was to blame. A properly cased well prevents drilling fluids, fracking fluids, or natural gas from seeping into an aquifer and contaminating groundwater. The casing also prevents groundwater from leaking into the well where it could interfere with the gas production process.

    In Dimock, gas was escaping through defective casings and cement that lined some of Cabot’s gas wells.

  • Liberal Enviro||

    There you go again with facts. Enough!

  • ||

    One more point on flaming faucets. For years (prior to gas wells being drilled) homeowners in northern PA and southern NY have excited and dazzled guests by lighting their water on fire. Locals don't get too excited about combustible water, they just adapt. It seems that newcomers aren't as sanguine about such fire water, however.

  • ||

    Solution: dont sell off your mineral rights and/or dont buy property in which you dont also get the mineral rights.

    Bingo. I live in oil 'n' gas country and have been looking on and off for property for years. If they aren't offering at least some of the mineral rights (at a minimum, I demand the executive rights), I don't even drive out to look at it.

  • ||

    See above.

  • Kurt||

    "In Dimock, gas was escaping through defective casings and cement that lined some of Cabot’s gas wells. To make matters worse, in September 2010, Cabot spilled 8,000 gallons of stored fracking fluids which drained into nearby Stevens Creek. Earlier this month, Cabot agreed to pay affected homeowners more than $4 million which amounts to twice the value of their houses. Cabot’s blunders illustrate an important point: Fracking, that is, the actual act of fracturing the shale below Dimock, did not directly pollute ground and surface waters. Of course, without fracking technology, there would have been no gas wells in the Dimock area."

    Right, fracturing is safe, even if its associated processes are not. That's some clever word play. Localities should not allow drilling operations without insurance policies that would cover such hazards. If the process is actually safe, then the frackers will find the policies affordable. If not, then no fracking, at least until insurers are satisfied with safety measures.

  • ||

    ... presumably, presumably ...

  • ||

    Moncler Jackets are so popular in Europe, nowadays, most of outdoor activities zealot tend to select Doudoune Moncler as a part of their equipments.

  • ||

    If it was only Dimock, PA then I'd attribute it to human error. Truth is there are similar stories to be found in Wise County, Dish, Tx Texas Pavilion, Wy Booneville, Ar Durango, Co and others.

    Everywhere they go its the same story.

  • ||

    Well, I would argue that your receipt of royalties colors the article in a certain bias. I would argue that should you post negative views about the natural gas industry in such a well read magazine, it may affect your royalties.

    Obviously, since I am on here, I am no GreenNazi. But, the water table is much different than land. I think localities do have a vested interest in regulating activities that have an arguable effect over the water table.

  • ||

    Yes was a fairly informitive documentary,but they left out a few things.1)There isn't ay way toget the bacteriacide they put in there frac water back out with any filtration sytem known except distilling it.2)It is mostly 2% salt water they pump down the hole.3)Usually the amount of water that is pumped down the hole is between 2500 and 120 thousand barells.4)85% of that water comes back out. most in the first week sometimes it takes longer.5)Most of the time the water (flowback) is hauled to a disposal well and pumped down the hole at 100-1800 lbs pressure.Where does it all end up? Well since some of the disposal wells I know of in east texas and west okla.They have been in operation for a few years.It goes in to the salt water table and runs eventually back to the ocean or underground water resivor. And some of those disposal wells get 100 to 3600 barrels a day 365. Surely it has to be safe Halliburton say so. And a barrel is 42 gal or 158.9 liters so You do the math.And we wont get into the crap they put in drilling mud today.Or the stuff in drilling or setting plugs or the co2 they release into the air when drilling out plugs.

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