The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came dangerously close to publishing a direct link between Hydrolic Fracturing “Fracking” and ground water pollution today. While stopping short of blaming the process for ground water contamination, the EPA has published statistics showing that chemicals used in the “Fracking” process are being found in the ground water around Pavillion, Wyoming.
Fracking has a long and controversial history in the United States. Fracking is a process in which oil and other fossil fuels are more easily extracted from oil shale by fracturing the underground rock with a highly pressurized stream of fracking liquids. As early as 1966, the United States Corp of Engineers shut down a waste disposal site at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal because it was using pressurized fracking fluids to dig into the ground. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal reported that “The Army discontinued use of the well in February 1966 because of the possibility that the fluid injection was “triggering earthquakes in the area”.
Now it has become even more controversial in light of the EPA’s findings. A recent journal article also vaulted the process onto the front page. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states, “In aquifers overlying the Marcellus and Utica shale formations of northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, we document systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shale-gas extraction .”.
Still the process is not without its advocates. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has issued multiple press releases extolling the virtues of fracking and the extraordinary safety measures associated with the process. They have noted that the steel and cement casings that house the fracking liquid provide more than ample protection to avoid groundwater contamination.
Whichever side one falls on with regards to fracking, it seems as if the process is going to be the subject of debate for many years to come. The fracking industry creates hundreds of thousands of jobs through out the country. Fracking is also giving states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York much needed tax revenues in tough economic times. The process also has helped lower gas prices at a time where middle eastern supplies can be affected by political events.
What do you think of fracking? Would you allow it in your backyard?