Getting real about Fracking

Fracking-in-Ohio.jpgHave you ever heard of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking?” If you haven’t, you will soon. Fracking is a process of drilling thousands of feet into the earth and creating small explosions to “fracture” hard shale rocks, which then release natural gas. Extremely pressurized water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock. Gas then flows out into a well.

The future of energy in Ohio and across the country may very well be a future built on natural gas. If that turns out to be the case, it will likely be because of the growing use of a drilling method called hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. It's effective and lucrative, and it comes with some noteworthy public safety risks and hazards.

How do you think we should proceed with fracking here in Ohio? What are your concerns?

Opponents say fracking releases methane into the atmosphere, which they say damages the ozone layer just as much as demonized greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. An award winning documentary “Gasland” tells cautionary tales of flammable tap water, sick and dead animals, unexplained repertory problems, headaches, and even cancer, gas clouds and toxic ponds of left-over fracking fluid. A study out of Cornell University has shown that fracking could spur a very fast economic boom followed by a harsh decline. Moreover, the equipment and manpower needed for fracking often overwhelm the small towns where natural gas wells are located, damaging infrastructure and even driving up rents for local residents.

People afflicted by these problems say fracking is the cause, but it’s very hard for to prove. Why? Because in 2005, President George W. Bush signed a law that exempted fracking from the Clean Air and Water Acts as well as the Safe Drinking Water Act. Also, fracking fluid is proprietary. Companies don’t have to say what’s in it. Although the federal government is conducting a study about fracking, in the short term, if it is going to be regulated, it will likely be done at the state level.


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  • Dan Witt
    commented 2012-07-11 21:26:15 -0400
    The writer of this post gravely underestimates the potentially devastating consequences that accompany fracking. Yes, the practice is lucrative – lucrative for energy companies at a stunning cost to public health and safety. It is also effective, effective at extracting a single, non-renewable resource while sacrificing vital aquifers. If the catastrophes in the Gulf of Mexico and Prince William Sound have taught us anything, it’s that environmental disasters of such a magnitude are unthinkable…until they’re not. Unlike those instances, a chemical spill in the water table would not have an entire ocean to disperse into. In Elyria, a person cannot add a porch to their home, or fish in the Black River without a permit; and yet anyone can erect a drilling well in their backyard with virtually nonexistent oversight. Apparently this is all of little concern to the above writer. Or the fact that there is documented, incontrovertible evidence that fracking is causing earthquakes in places where they were previously exceedingly rare. Perhaps a volcano erupting in suburban Cleveland would be enough to awaken this writer to the peril of the situation.