What is fracking?
Hydraulic fracturing is a method of drilling and fracturing layers of rock deep below the ground. Modern gas and oil drilling is a process of drilling many thousands of feet down into shale rock, then drilling laterally for many more hundreds or thousands of feet and pumping in a mix of water, mud and chemicals at high pressure to break the shale apart and free up oil and gas for extraction. (Source)
» View “Shale Cowboys” for a view of how the fracking boom came about.
Though definitely viewed through a pro-fracking lens, this video gives a good description of the process and how the industry boom developed.
The water well company used hydrofracturing to put in my well. Why is fracked gas different?
Yes. Modern deep wells are installed using hydrofracturing. The primary difference between the purity of your clean drinking water and the impurity of fracked gas is the chemicals used to extract the gas from the rocks.
• Although the industry lists 60 chemicals as “most commonly used” (Source), there are over 600 chemicals used in the process, including EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals which affect fertility and hormone regulation), known carcinogens and neurotoxins. (Source)
» AMA Calls for More Public Disclosure from Drilling Industry
• One class of chemicals used is surfactants, which dissolve cell walls to allow cell permeability. These have the same affect on plants, animals and people. (Source: “Gasland”)
• Fracked gas is packed into the pipelines at high pressure, increasing the likelihood of leaks, ruptures and/or explosions. Major effects of these accidents vary from collapsed structures and injuries and sustained fire supplied by the fuel in the pipeline in the case of explosions, to environmental contamination and health impacts from volatile chemicals contained in the gas from non-exploding leaks. (Source)
• Although touted as a safer form of gas transportation, there have been over 990 natural gas transmission line accidents deemed “Significant”, with 137 injuries and 34 fatalities since 2000. (Source)
• Chemicals contained in the gas traveling through pipelines are known to off-gas at compressor stations along the pipeline. These include benzene, dimethyldisulfide, ethyl-methylethyl disulfide, trimethyl benzene, diethyl benzene, tetramethyl benzene, carbon disulfide, nephthalenes, methyl pyridine, carbonyl sulfide, toluene among others – and other known carcinogens and neurotoxins. They have been found at air tests near compressor station. (Source)
» Learn more about compressor stations
• Methane emissions along natural gas transmission routes are 25-75% higher than original EPA estimates, depending on the site, and are particularly high at pressure stations along the route. (Source)
• Methane is a greenhouse gas over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (over 80 times more powerful for the first 20 years in the atmostphere). So even though CO2 emissions are lower, leaks in the natural gas extraction and transmission process have been shown to negate any environmental pluses of NG over coal or oil. (Source)
• Construction of a natural gas pipeline brings damage to natural habitats in forests, wetlands and other ecologically sensitive areas.
• Our nation’s natural gas pipeline system is so dangerously leaky.
See his report on the gas industry’s leak problem…
• The 2005 Energy Bill contains a measure nicknamed “The Haliburton Loophole” (Source) which exempted the Gas and Oil industries from the Safe Water Drinking Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA / Superfund Law*, and about a dozen more federal regulations (Source: “Gasland”)
*(CERCLA=Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act)
• By agreement between ISO New England, NESCOE and all six Governors of New England, the pipeline could be funded by a new tariff on utility rate payers. This tariff would pay back electric generators for gas obtained by contracts with the pipeline company. Although the initial plan for a tariff was put on hold in 2014, there are currently calls for an investigation into a new tariff before the DPU in Massachusetts (*Search Docket #15-37).
(NESCOE Letter outlining the 2014 tariff)
NATURAL GAS IS A NON-RENEWABLE FOSSIL FUEL
“Natural Gas” is often touted as a clean alternative to other fossil fuels. And while it does produce lower CO2 emissions when burned, it’s much higher in methane content, which is over 20 times more harmful as a greenhouse gas. (Source)
• The greenhouse gas power of methane produced by natural gas production negates any savings in CO2 emissions.
CLIMATE PROGRESS — By The Time Natural Gas Has A Net Climate Benefit You’ll Likely Be Dead And The Climate Ruined
… READ MORE
NY TIMES — Study Finds Methane Leaks Negate Benefits of Natural Gas as a Fuel for Vehicles
… READ MORE