Fracking far greener than critics claim
by Deroy Murdock
July 16, 2013 12:24 AM | 1702 views | 5 5 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The only thing deeper than a natural-gas well is the ignorance of the anti-fracking crowd. Fracking — formally called hydraulic fracturing — involves briefly pumping water, sand and chemicals into shale formations far below Earth’s surface and the aquifers that irrigate crops and quench human thirst. The process cracks these rocks and liberates the gas within. Though the technology has been employed for decades with seemingly no verified contamination of groundwater, anti-fracking activists behave as if it were invented specifically to poison Americans.

“Fracking makes all water dirty,” declares a poster that Yoko Ono recently exhibited at a Manhattan carpet store. According to another: “Pretty soon there will be no more water to drink.”

In contrast to this hyperventilation, Lisa Jackson, former chief of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration, told the House Government Reform Committee in 2011: “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”

Frackophobes would be astonished to see how much Anadarko, our third-largest natural gas producer, obsesses over the environment in its Marcellus shale operations. Anadarko and the American Petroleum Institute discussed these practices during a late-June fact-finding tour they sponsored for opinion writers and other media. (I purchased my own train ticket there and bought gas for a colleague who drove us back to New York.)

Among the things Anadarko showed us is that it identifies flora and fauna near production sites. In Pennsylvania, it uses outdoor cameras to determine which animals traverse the area. This helps Anadarko work with landowners to restore their property, post-production, or enhance it with vegetation that will attract desired species.

A large pond on a small hill belonging to the Elbow Fish and Game Club temporarily holds production-related water for an adjacent development site. After 50 to 100 days of drilling and well construction, and two to five days of fracking, about six to 12 wells quietly will begin to collect natural gas from this field. The soil excavated for the pond will be removed from storage and returned from whence it came. Anadarko will plant local grasses and flowers, and the place will look largely untouched as the wells yield gas for 20 to 40 years.

A few minutes away by car, several wells are being fracked on acreage owned by a farmer named Landon. A thick felt-and-rubber pad, surrounded by a large berm, prevents potential spills from contaminating Landon’s soil.

“We collect rainwater that falls on the pad,” says a production worker named, fittingly, Anthony Waters. “It’s pumped down the well, not put onto land.”

Fracking the Marcellus shale happens about 6,000 feet underground. That is about 5,000 feet below groundwater supplies. Drills and pipes penetrate aquifers, but they are encased in multiple layers of steel and concrete designed to separate drinking water from fracking fluids (which are 99 percent water and sand and only 1 percent chemicals).

An old-fashioned well was like a vertical straw that sucked up gas just from the bottom tip. Horizontal wells start from one small spot at the surface and then fan out far underground. They then draw in gas as if through small holes in vacuum hoses laid flat on the floor. Multiple wells drilled through a limited space on the surface lighten impact on land and habitat, as well as truck traffic.

Rather than peddle ill-informed nonsense about fracking, Yoko Ono and company should learn what Anadarko is doing and encourage other producers to adopt its standards as best practices.

The Empire State and the rest of the U.S. should harness fracking’s surprisingly clean technology and develop this country’s bountiful natural gas reserves.

What’s not to like? This fuel is all-American, and the profits stay here — not in the hands of people who want to kill us.

Deroy Murdock is a Scripps Howard News Service columnist.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
tree hugging 101
June 21, 2014
Well non tree-huggers, get busy and write your state reps right now to reep all the benefits of fracking. Ask for it near an aquifier and well near you. "with SEEMINGLY no verified contamination of groundwater". This is a non-statement. Ic an say "with seemingly no effect to my children, I beat them daily. They seem to listen better". Junk quote. Also this: "we drill below the water sources" is thick ignorance, as though water cant seep & travel through soil. And fact: it takes 1.8 million gal of H2O and 40,000 Gal of chemicals (600 of which are known carcinogens)to frack. So collecting some rain water is producing 40,000 Gal of water? What a self-interest piece of garbage. I invite you to educate yourself further on fact sites, look at images of fracking and the their "clean-up" and write that letter. If not, happy flipper babies to you.
July 16, 2013
There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.
Not a treehugger
July 17, 2013
There have been millions of documented cases of water contamination where drilling hasn't occurred.

Just because there have been documented cases near drilling sites, it doesn't mean they caused the contamination.
Old timer
July 17, 2013
Amen...not a tree hugger.....we must protect US jobs...I bet India and China will not shut down their growing economies to placate American tree huggers.
groominator magnetic
July 08, 2014
Write a letter to your representatives and request a fracking site set up near you. Your baseless arguments are without merit. Read long term, peer review scientist reports, geological reports, and fact based reports instead of remaining ignorant and talking about jobs. You want jobs with no illness, water contamination and land degradation, then argue for clean energy: sun, wind, water. There are your jobs, future growth, and competition with developing countries. (China's govt has invested in and become a world leader in solar panels. Youre right, China doesnt care about tree huggers in the US, theyre already cornering the market)

PS: The author of this article is an idiot claiming you only need go below water tables to frack, as though soil wasn't porous. Many many cases of proven contamination of water through fracking. Arguing against your own best interest, the past time of the anti environmentalist.
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