It’s Getting Harder To Take Fracktivists Seriously

(REUTERS/Terry Wade)

Keith Mauck Principal, American Energy Communications
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The moment anyone mentions fracking, the technology’s detractors, some call them “Fracktivists,” show up to spread fear about it. They claim fracking poisons drinking water, damages the environment, and promotes the use of “dirty” oil and natural gas. Well, it’s becoming quite difficult to remain a credible Fracktivist these days. Their agenda of fear and distortion was dealt another blow this week.

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency science advisers (SAB) reiterated the agency’s findings that there is no “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water” from hydraulic fracturing operations. Environmentalists had been using SAB criticisms of the EPA’s fracking report to cast doubt on the report’s findings. However, no doubt, if the Fracktivists have shown us anything, it’s that they are savvy, nimble and creative. Look for them to once again repackage their Frackingstein-like horror stories to continue their war on fossil fuels.

Here is the truth about fracking. Hydraulic fracturing is the process of pumping water, surfactants (like dishwashing liquid and shampoo), trace amounts of other additives, and a proppant (usually sand) thousands of feet down into a well. Under pressure, this water mixture causes tiny cracks in the rock, props open the fissures, and allows oil or natural gas to flow up the wellborn.

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its findings on fracking’s impact on drinking water. After years of study, the agency gave fracking a clean bill of health. It found no “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources” despite the fact that the technology has been used in more than one million U.S. wells during the past 40+ years.

EPA data also refute the overblown claims about other environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). According to an EPA report, methane gas emissions from oil and natural gas systems declined by 12 percent from 2011 to 2013 although U.S. oil and natural gas production was soaring.

The EPA reports 25,000-30,000 new wells were drilled and fracked each year between 2011 and 2013. Fracked wells produced the fewest methane emissions. In fact, methane emissions from new fracked natural gas wells declined 73 percent.

Royalty owners — people who have leased their property to drilling companies — are monitoring drilling and fracking activities closely and like what they see. In a 2014 poll conducted among royalty owners by GoMarcellusShale.comEagleFordForum.com, and GoHaynesvilleShale.com, 71 percent were satisfied to neutral about drilling operations on their land, and more than 90 percent said they would lease their land again if given the opportunity.

Perhaps most importantly, fracking and drilling are producing clean energy. Natural gas burns more cleanly than coal and is quickly becoming the fuel of choice for electrical power plants. And oil is cleaner than the homegrown ethanol which was created to replace it.

According to the Environmental Working Group, ethanol emits more carbon dioxide into the air than gasoline. EWG says the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would have produced less carbon dioxide than the ethanol blended into gasoline under the government’s mandate in 2014.

Furthermore, consumers want and need oil and natural gas for heating, cooling, powering our factories, and fueling our transportation. The federal government says oil and natural gas will comprise 62 percent of U.S. energy demand in 2040.

Thanks to fracking, the United States has an abundance of oil and natural gas, which is far more affordable than other fuels. The key is to move it from where it is produced to where it is needed. Unfortunately, the same people who fight fracking also protest energy infrastructure, including pipelines and the LNG export terminal proposed for Jacksonville.  Apparently they do not want the jobs or energy security benefits that accrue from domestic oil and gas.

Neither fracking nor transportation infrastructure should be hindered by fossil-fuel critics who use fear-mongering to push their political agenda. Don’t be swayed by the histrionics. The facts show fracking is safe, and oil and gas will be needed for years to come.

Keith Mauck, J.D., is publisher of GoMarcellusShale.com and Co-Founder of ShaleCast.com