HYDRAULIC FRACTURING AND ITS IMPACT
July 27, 2014
“Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry has fused two technologies – hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – to unlock new supplies of fossil fuels in underground rock formations across the United States. “Fracking” has spread rapidly, leaving a trail of contaminated water, polluted air, and marred landscapes in its wake. In fact, a growing body of data indicates that fracking is an environmental and public health disaster in the making”. (The Cost of Fracking, September 20 2012). “Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.” (Dangers of Fracking, para 1) The fluid injected is a combination of about 600 chemicals; most of which are considered toxic, sand and water. During the process gas and chemicals seep into the ground water. Approximately 30-50% of this is recovered, but the remaining fluid is left in the ground to evaporate and it is not biodegradable; the water left behind could be contaminated. There have been over 1,000 cases of water contamination, neurological, sensory and respiratory damage. Of course there is no way to directly link it to the hydraulic fracturing. Some basic math estimates show 5 hundred thousand active wells in the United States, 8 million gallons of water per well, a well can drilled 18 times, which adds up to 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals that are needed to run only the current wells. It is true though, that 3 hundred barrels of gas a day are produced, but at what expense to the environment?
The northwest does not have nearly as many wells as other areas in the country. Right now Oregon does not have any current wells, but a US geothermal company is working on a dormant volcano in the Deschutes National Forest of central Oregon. In the past the Coos Bay Basin had 9 wells “fracked”, and evidently there is a potential for more. Two companies have been granted permits for the Newberry volcano. It is in the early stages of development. Washington have an exploratory well in the Grays Harbor area, it is about 22 miles east Ocean city.
The Environmental Protection Agency has areas in their agency in place to ensure the safety and compliance of the United States. These very basic steps & areas are: laws provide authority for the EPA to write regulations, regulations explain the technical, operational & legal details to implement the laws, compliance & enforcement helps companies meet federal requirements, holds them accountable for violations and policy & guidance assist the public and businesses to understand the laws. The EPA is currently working with states to make sure that the extractions do not come at the expense of public health and the health of the environment.
Natural Gas Extraction - Hydraulic Fracturing. (2014, July 14). Retrieved, from http://www2.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing
The Cost of Fracking. (2012, September 20). Retrieved, from http://www.environmentamerica.org/reports/ame/costs-fracking
Where Does Fracking Happen? (2013, March 5). Retrieved, from http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Category:Fracking