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Reason.tv: The Truth About Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing - or "fracking" - is a fast-growing source of natural gas used to create electricity, heat homes, and more. It involves forcing water, sand, and chemicals into super-deep wells and then recovering the gas released during the process.

Fracking is also highly controversial, with viral video hits such as "The Fracking Song" and the 2010 documentary Gasland contending that the process leads to polluted drinking water, home explosions, and worse.

Fracking has been around for more than 60 years and over 100,000 gas wells are dug per year, most of them in sparsely populated areas in the western U.S. With the discovery of the Marcellus Shale in the eastern part of the country, fracking is increasingly common in populated parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, leading to heightened tensions between drillers and environmentalists. Indeed, the attorney general of New York has called for a moratorium on the practice in the Empire State.

Is fracking safe? And what are the potential benefits that will be forfeited if the practice is ended? Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with science correspondent Ronald Bailey to learn the truth about fracking. Bailey reports that the cases of contaminated water supplies were the result of poorly designed wells that had nothing to do with fracking itself. As important, he notes that the gas generated by fracking would not only massively increase American energy supply, it would do so with a relatively clean and cheap fuel.

Shot by Jim Epstein and Josh Swain; Edited by Swain.

Approximately 5:34 minutes.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions of the video and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live

Nick Gillespie is an editor at large at Reason.

Joshua Swain was producer for "Stossel on Reason." Prior to his current position, he was a producer for Reason TV. A Virginia native, he attended George Mason University and currently lives in New York.

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  • ||

    Threat Jack: Milton Friedman "The False Prophet".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrYlG4_Af4k

  • ||

    People in the rural areas of PA are generally okay with the shale gas boom--they're getting royalties and their economies are getting a boost.

    But it's a full-employment project for the green weenies who don't have our coal industry to yell about anymore or Three-Mile-Island to make them poop their knickers.

    And Marcellus shale gas is thousands of feet down, underneath thick layers of solid rock. Bailey is right--it's bad casings, not frack fluid.

  • ||

    It's made something like 45,000 jobs, so the environmental lobby is working hard to kill that.

    They seem to hate the idea of anyone having a job.

  • ||

    And if my interview tomorrow morning pans out, I'll be another one of those jobs.

  • ||

    "leading to heightened tensions between drillers and environmentalists"
    _
    ...and homeowners w well water, & local wastewater treatment facilities, & county road maintenance depts (w reduced budgets) fixing roads torn-up by large, heavy drilling equipment, and...the list keeps growing.

  • ||

    Awww, Urine's butt hurts :( Sad face, Urine :(

  • ||

    Yes, instead of heavy equipment we should get gas up from a mile underground using the breath of unicorns and the power of positive thinking.

    Don't sweat it--new industry also means new property tax and earned income tax for PA local governments.

    Plus we have a DEP that is still loaded with bureaucrats coming off of 8 years of the most liberal governor since Milton Shapp in the 1970s. They are watching closely.

  • ||

    no, no, no my libtoid friends. better to ignore the problems & have a big ol sing along...at a mountian top revival, err...removal party!

  • ||

    No roads in Somalia to drive the fracking trucks over?

  • ||

    What's funny about OO's arguments is that the enviromental impact is a lot less than conventional oil drilling.

    The fracturing takes place deep within the earth, below wells. There isn't much equipment to maintain, and most of the land above the well site is usable for other purposes.

    The fracturing itself uses 99% water (the "frack fluid"), with the other 1% benig innocuous stuff like sand and gravel.

    But OO argues in bad faith that this will mess up local waste water (???) -- despite municipal sewage departments typically doing stuff like dumping raw sewage into lakes and rivers.

  • ||

    Ive heard that they might not even use water any more, if new technology takes off. I heard that there is some experimentation on using liquid propane, so that you dont have to clear the well before production begins.

  • ||

    there is some experimentation on using liquid propane

    It isn't experimentation. It is used for production wells.

    There is an article on it on hit and run somewhere.

  • ||

    fixing roads torn-up by large, heavy drilling equipment

    One time mobilization does not make torn-up roads.

    They come in they drill they leave.

    I am more worried about the unicorns in your imagination when it comes to torn-up roads.

  • ||

    Yes because only Prius owners should be allowed to drive on the roads. How dare those rural landowners who send in their property taxes each year think that roads should be use to access their properties.

  • ||

    How could anything called fracking be bad?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Unwanted Pregnancy On Your Battlestar: The Truth About Fracking
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  • ||

    That's Fraking not Fracking.

  • ||

    They both involve inserting something into a deep hole.

  • ||

    I thought on Battle Star Galactica the government wanted to make babies.

  • ||

    100,000 gas wells are dug per year

    *bang head*

    Pits are dug, wells are drilled

  • ||

    Bullshit...you can dig a well.

  • ||

    Although truth be told a person today would probably choose to excavate a well before they dug one.

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