Mark Twain said “never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.” A common hydraulic fracturing narrative is that the technology pollutes water supplies. The story goes that fracturing is a mysterious and untested practice, that fracturing fluids are a secret, “chemical cocktail,” that there are innumerable incidents of aquifer and drinking water contamination, resulting even in tap water catching fire, and that “Big Oil” has pressured Congress into exempting the technology from any environmental laws.Fracturing proponents have struggled to gain the high ground in the debate on water quality, even as they debunked the myths time and again with facts and data. Fortunately, the groundwater issue may be losing traction, at least concerning some high-profile cases where the regulators recently have retracted allegations or reconsidered data. The truth is not as exciting. Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of fluid consisting of approximately 99.5% water and sand (the rest consists of common industrial or even household chemicals or materials) through wells constructed with protective casing and cement, into producing shale formations. The formations are thousands of feet below drinking water aquifers, separated by impervious rock. While the technology has evolved and is used more frequently, fracturing is not new, is heavily regulated at the state level, and enjoys no blanket exemption from environmental laws. There is no credible data indicating that fracturing of shale formations has ever contaminated drinking water.
This is why the thrust of the manufactured narrative that fracturing is a menace to the environment is now shifting to air quality. The time is now to separate fact from fiction in the public consciousness, and to demand transparency on the part of those who oppose fracturing and would have it banned or regulated into oblivion.
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Next, a letter from a man named John Krohn to the Times Union in New York, which was in response to a previous letter containing typical fracktivist claims.
In "Fracking hazardous to New Yorkers' health" (April 24). Sandra Steingraber makes some extreme claims about hydraulic fracturing.
The author declares hydraulic fracturing will ruin our air for pregnant mothers, children and innocent grandparents without citing a single source.
On the same day Ms. Steingraber made these claims, the American Lung Association released a report on our nation's air quality. The study found North Dakota's air quality among the nation's best. The state is home to more than 6,500 oil and natural gas wells developed and fractured in just the past few years.
Ms. Steingraber also referenced a Colorado School of Public Health study that used flawed assumptions and committed gross errors in reaching its findings. One example: The study relied on samples taken a mile from a major interstate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that automobiles are one of the largest sources of harmful emissions such as benzene. As a result, the study was criticized by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and scuttled by the Garfield County Board of Commissioners.
Contrary to Ms. Steingraber's claims, a recent Bloomberg article noted greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to decline through the end of the decade thanks to natural gas use in power generation. This is helping achieve the goals of recent ill-fated cap-and-trade legislation. This is an environmental success story, not the horror story Steingraber is hoping to promote.
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