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Transcript of Hydraulic Fracturing
Exxonmobile. (2011). Facts on the hydraulic fracturing process. Retrieved from http://www.exxonmobilperspectives.com/2011/06/17/facts-hydraulic-fracturing-process/
Earthworks. (2012). Hyraulic fracturing 101. Retrieved from http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/hydraulic_fracturing_101 According to many oil, gas, and trade companies, water accounts for about 90 percent of the fracturing mixture, sand (proppants) accounts for about 9.5 percent and chemicals account for the remaining .5 percent of the mixture. Issues surrounding fracturing fluid Water Use In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 70 to 140 billion gallons of water are used to fracture 35,000 wells in the United States each year. Fracture treatments in coalbed methane wells use from 50,000 to 350,000 gallons of water per well, while deeper horizontal shale wells can use anywhere from 2 to 10 million gallons of water to fracture a single well. The extraction of so much water for fracking has raised concerns about the ecological impacts to aquatic resources, as well as dewatering of drinking water aquifers. How much water is that?
Approximately the annual water consumption of 40 to 80 cities, each with a population of 50,000. Earthworks. (2012). Hydraulic fracturing 101. Retrieved from http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/hydraulic_fracturing_101 Chemical Use In addition to the large amounts of water being used in the injection fluids, a variety of chemicals are also used. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce conducted an investigation examining the practice of hydraulic fracturing and found that between the years 2005 and 2009, the 14 oil and gas service companies used more than 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 chemicals and other components. In total these companies used 780 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing products, which does not include the water. Chemical companies are quick to point out that the percent of chemicals in the fracturing fluid mix is only .5 percent, but when millions and millions of gallons of water are being used to fracture wells, this small percent adds up to a big number in tons. For example, a four million gallon fracturing operation would use anywhere from 80 to 330 tons of chemicals. Although the investigation found many of the chemical products used by the oil and gas service companies to be generally harmless, they did identify 29 toxic chemicals that are known as, or have potential to be, possible human carcinogens, are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health, or are listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. These 29 chemicals were components of 652 different products used in hydraulic fracturing. It is also important to note that many of the chemicals used in the fracking process are “undisclosed” from the public because they are considered to be a trade secret of the company and proprietary information. 1970's 1990's United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commernce. (2011, April). Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Retrieved from http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic%20Fracturing%20Report%204.18.11.pdf Please note: I did not include the other 19 pages of chemicals listed in the investigation summary. Each time I tried to insert them it froze my Prezi. This is the list of the 29 carcinogenic chemicals found. For the complete chemical list please visit the source at http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic%20Fracturing%20Report%204.18.11.pdf At the time of this investiagion, Methanol was the most widely used chemical in hydraulic fracturing and is a hazardous air pollutant and a candidate for regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. In addition to water and chemicals, fracking fluid also contains proppants (often sand), which are left behind in the rock formations to keep the fracture "propped" open. Due to the high demand of sand for fracking, sand mining mills are quickly springing up in states such as Wisconsin, and with them bringing their own set of health impacts, including those related to crystalline silica dust and air quality. Smathers, J. (2011, July 31). Sand mining surges in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Watch. Retrieved from http://www.spe.org/jpt/print/archives/2011/04/11ProppantShortage.pdf United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commernce. (2011, April). Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Retrieved from http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic%20Fracturing%20Report%204.18.11.pdf Each new drilling site can produce up to a million gallons or more of waste water (Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, 2012). When the waste water returns to the surface (amount ranges anywhere from 40-70% of the fluid), it is captured on-site in an open pit (often unlined) or stored in a tank and then eventually transported to a treatment plant or disposal well, which is a well where the waste water is injected back into the ground (Earthworks, 2012). Because flowback fluids are part of an oil and gas operation, the fluids are designated as an oil and gas waste, even if there are hazardous chemicals in the wastes. This designation results in less protective requirements such as no requirement to analyze the constituents in the fluids prior to injection and the injection wells are exempt from local zoning. What happens to the fracturing fluid after fracking is complete? Earthworks. (2012). Hydraulic fracturing 101. Retrieved from http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/hydraulic_fracturing_101
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. (2012). Hydraulic fracturing. Retrieved from http://www.watershedcouncil.org/learn/hydraulic-fracturing/ Flowback (waste water) Disposal Options
- Underground Injection Wells
- Treatment & Discharge: on-site or in treatment facilities
- Fluid recycling
* The volume of waste water that was estimated to be produced per day in Pennsylvania in 2011 was around 19 - 20 million gallons. It's important to note that many states are not equipped with water treatment facilities capable of properly treating this waste water or handling this volume. This is one reason why PA exports millions of gallons of waste water over state borders to Ohio. Where is Hydraulic Fracturing occurring today? ENVIRONMENTAL & PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS - Fresh water and aquatic habitat depletion as a result of the millions of gallons of water needed to fracture one well (average 2-4 million gallons/well).
- Air pollution and road damage as a result of transportation needs for bringing in millions of gallons of fresh water to sites and then removing those countless gallons of waste water. The Environmental Protection Agency (2011) estimates each well requires anywhere between 300-1300 trucks.
- At least 29 chemicals used in fracking solutions have been confirmed to be toxic to humans and wildlife.
- Soil and water contamination through leaks and/or spills associated with the storage and transportation of waste water.
- Contamination of drinking water resources both above and below ground through faulty wellbore casings and hazardous waste water remaining below in rock formations.
- Air pollution through toxic chemicals off-gasing as they sit in open impoundment pits as well as waste water seeping back into the ground from the pits contaminating soil and conceivably ground water (Earthworks, 2012; EPA, 2011). Earthworks. (2012). Hydraulic fracturing 101. Retrieved from http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/hydraulic_fracturing_101
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2011). Draft plan to study the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. Retrieved from http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/0/D3483AB445AE61418525775900603E79/$File/Draft+Plan+to+Study+the+Potential+Impacts+of+Hydraulic+Fracturing+on+Drinking+Water+Resources-February+2011.pdf Areas that have already experienced fracking accidents. EarthJustice. (2012). Fracking across the United States. Retrieved from http://earthjustice.org/features/campaigns/fracking-across-the-united-states WHAT REGULATIONS DO EXIST? Due to the rapid growth of the fracking industry, the regulations are in a state of playing catch up. The EPA, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of the Interior (DOI), have all been identified as the main government agencies responsible for dealing with issues surrounding this process, but each state also needs to take action and adopt and enforce laws and regulations that are best for the public’s health. Currently the EPA (2012) is, “investing in improving the scientific understanding of hydraulic fracturing, providing regulatory clarity with respect to existing laws, and using existing authorities where appropriate to enhance health and environmental safeguards”. Through the EPA a study is currently underway to understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources with a final daft expected to be released in 2014. The EPA is also working to improve compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements and strengthen environmental protections consistent with existing laws. In conjunction with the states, the EPA is analyzing the different waste water disposal methods, which include underground injections, treatment facilities, surface impoundments, stormwater discharges and recycling, to ensure appropriate regulations are in place to provide safe and legal options for disposal. Air quality, as a result of fracking, is also being addressed by the EPA, DOI, and the states to reduce air emissions and their associated impacts through identification of new technologies and practices. The EPA also works with states and law enforcement to assure incidences of noncompliance from natural gas extraction and production activities are addressed and new regulations are implemented where necessary (EPA, 2012). States, too, have been revising and implementing new rules and regulations, with 24 states in 2012 considering at least 127 bills dealing specifically with hydraulic fracturing and 7 actually enacting regulatory laws (Malewitz, 2012). United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2012). Natural gas extraction - hydraulic fracturing. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing/ What are the benefits of hydraulic fracturing?? - Creates jobs
- Improves national security/Potential energy independence
- Buys time to continue developing future renewable alternative energy options
- Environmental benefits: believed to burn cleaner than other fossil fuels EnergyfromShale. (2012). The promise of shale gas. Retrieved from http://www.energyfromshale.org/about-shale-gas United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2012). Natural gas extraction - hydraulic fracturing. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing/ Malewitz, J. (2012, May 9). States scramble to regulate, ban fracking. Governing. Retrieved from http://www.governing.com/news/state/states-scramble-to-regulate-ban-fracking.html United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2012). Natural gas extraction - hydraulic fracturing. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing/ So what the Frack?? Is hydraulic fracturing truly a green process that will aid us in our quest for energy independence, while also providing jobs and national security, Or is fracking really a dirty process in disguise that is moving at lightning speeds to meet the rush and make the buck while forgoing future consequences and putting hundreds of thousands of lives at stake? Food for Thought...
Are government agencies doing enough to improve and strengthen current regulations and making it a priority to secure the safety of our drinking water?
Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Should the EPA have launched an investigation sooner than 2010, and why did they wait so long to conduct such an important study?
Should a process be considered clean when it produces millions of gallons of waste and contributes to air pollution?
Are states looking at this process from a public health perspective, and not just from an economy perspective? Interesting Reads Ohio Earthquakes linked to waste water injections:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ohio-earthquake-likely-caused-by-fracking Cattle quarantined due to hydraulic fracturing spills:
http://www.propublica.org/article/a-fracking-first-in-pennsylvania-cattle-quarantine Employee hazard alerts in hydraulic fracturing:
http://www.osha.gov/dts/hazardalerts/hydraulic_frac_hazard_alert.html Benefits of allowing the use of hydraulic fracturing in NY:
http://www.silive.com/opinion/columns/index.ssf/2011/10/benefits_of_allowing_the_use_o.html It is up to you to decide. You decide. It is up to you to decide. http://www.eia.gov/oil_gas/rpd/shale_gas.pdf http://enactwi.wordpress.com/2011/05/ http://www.marcellus-shale.us/MARCELLUS-AIR-II.htm United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commernce. (2011, April). Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Retrieved from http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic%20Fracturing%20Report%204.18.11.pdf United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commernce. (2011, April). Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Retrieved from http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic%20Fracturing%20Report%204.18.11.pdf