Friday, August 5, 2011

What is fracking?

With the new push for fracking upstate, there are a lot of questions about what fracking is and what effect it will have on us.

By definition, hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is "the process of initiating and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, employing the pressure of a fluid as the source of energy" and is "done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations, in order to increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas."

Many are pushing natural gas as the new "green" energy that will solve a lot of our carbon problems.  Unfortunately, natural gas consists of high amounts of methane which is even more damaging to our environment.  Apart from the concern about the amount of methane that could be potentially put into our atmosphere with the increased amount of natural gas, there are also great concerns about the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid.  Many of these chemicals pose threats to local waterways.  Unfortunately, fracturing fluid has been exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act by the U.S. Congress in 2005.

A scary possibility when water is contaminated.

This American Life recently had a great radio show on the effect fracking has had on the state of Pennsylvania from academia to small town politics.  The show, Game Changer, tells several very eye-opening stories on what we could expect to see if fracking happens here on the level some want.

Go to WNYC News to learn more about the panel put together by Governor Cuomo's administration "tasked with giving advice on some of the most sensitive issues related to the controversial gas drilling technique."  Also, check out Explainer: What the Frak is Fracking? to learn more about the proces.  Read up on the U.S. governments attempt to quash Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's push to learn more about the effect hydraulic fracturing has had on the Delaware River Basin here.

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