Fracking Truth May Be a Different Truth

April 17, 2015

Terry D. RagsdaleTammy D. BarrettBusiness Viewpoint by Tammy Barrett and Terry Ragsdale

Whether scorned by those who view it as an environmental threat, or touted as the savior of the domestic energy industry, fracking is in the news. But, can you believe all you read? Is it true that fracking has resulted in homeowners lighting tap water on fire? Is fracking the cause of recent earthquakes or drought?Fracking is not a new phenomenon, but traces back to at least 1947 when a well was hydraulically fracked in Kansas. Another truth: fracking has the potential to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil, with some experts pinpointing U.S. independence as achievable sometime in the 2020s.

Fracking has also fostered a boon to the American economy resulting in an increase in jobs and less expensive energy. Although most of us enjoy lower gasoline prices, historically low prices are a potential double-edged sword because low prices could render continued exploration unprofitable, and an end to the shale revolution might return us to OPEC dependence.

But, what about the terrible things caused by fracking? For example:

• Gasland 1 and Gasland 2 showed someone lighting their house tap water on fire because of fracking.  This was a neat “trick,” but it was not caused by fracking. Regarding Gasland 2, a judge found that a hose was intentionally connected to a gas vent, not a waterline, with the intent to deceive the public. In Gasland 1, investigators determined that the water well was dug into a naturally-occurring methane pocket unrelated to fracking. These inaccuracies were reported by the Toronto Sun and Washington Examiner.

• Fracking will cause drought.  The amount of water used in fracking is relatively small, in many instances comprising less than one tenth of 1 percent of overall consumption. For example, an industry observer noted to KQED that all fracking operations in California in one year used the same amount of water as 650 homes during that same year.

And Wall Street Daily reports that estimates indicate more water is used in one month to water lawns than by the fracking industry in an entire year.

• Fracking causes earthquakes.  The United States Geologic Service studies to date conclude that hydraulic fracturing has not caused any seismic-related structural damage. However, the USGS continues to examine whether wastewater injection may have some seismic event causation.

Fracking is also credited with reducing carbon emissions over and above the entire world’s reduction from both wind and solar power, and fracking has allowed the U.S. to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading producer of petroleum liquids.

The truth is that the truth about fracking may differ from what you have been led to believe.

Terry Ragsdale and Tammy Barrett are shareholders with the GableGotwals law firm. Ragsdale formerly worked as a petroleum engineer.

This article is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided should not be taken as an indication of future legal results; any information provided should not be acted upon without consulting legal counsel.

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