Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Fracking makes it possible to extract natural gas from shale plays that were once unreachable with conventional technologies. Fracking is a water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid — typically water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer (see toxic chemicals link below) — are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. This releases extra oil and gas from the rock, so it can flow into the well.
But hydraulic fracking threatens our air, water, communities and the climate upon which we all depend. That’s why over 250 communities in the U.S. have passed resolutions to stop fracking, and why the states of Vermont and New York and countries including France and Germany have stopped it. (see: List of Bans Worldwide).
Impacts and Concerns
The following information is from Earthworks’ website. It is a “Hyrdofracturing 101”, and provides an overview of many of the issues and impacts related hydraulic fracturing.
- Water use
- Sand and proppants
- Toxic chemicals
- Health concerns
- Surface water and soil contamination
- Groundwater contamination
- Air quality
- Waste disposal
- Chemical disclosure
Other concerns not identified in this list include:
- Earthquakes (the Wabash and New Madrid fault lines run through Illinois)
- Climate Change (from fugitive methane)
A core element of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program is setting requirements for proper well siting, construction, and operation to minimize risks to underground sources of drinking water. However, Energy Policy Act of 2005 excluded hydraulic fracturing, except when diesel fuels are used, for oil, gas or geothermal production from regulation under the UIC program. This statutory language caused regulators and the regulated community alike to raise questions about the applicability of permitting practices. (Source: EPA)