Fracking—formally called hydraulic fracturing—involves briefly pumping water, sand and chemicals into shale formations far beneath Earth’s surface and thousands of feet below the aquifers that irrigate crops and quench human thirst. This process cracks these rocks and liberates the gas within. Though employed for decades with seemingly no verified contamination of ground water, anti-fracking activists behave as if this technology were invented specifically to poison Americans.
“Fracking makes all water dirty,” declares a poster that Yoko Ono recently exhibited at a Manhattan carpet store. Rants another: “Pretty soon there will be no more water to drink.”
Reporting on an anti-fracking event starring actor Mark Ruffalo and mystic Deepak Chopra, writer Alisha Prakash warns: “If this process remains the status quo, our planet will not be able to sustain life in another 100 years.”
Matt Damon’s 2012 film Promised Land dramatizes fracking’s supposed dangers by showing a toy farm devoured by flames.
In contrast to all this absurd hyperventilation, consider the sworn testimony of former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. Hardly a right-wing shill for Big Oil, Jackson told the House Government Reform Committee in May 2011: “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.” In April 2012 Jackson said, “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”
Naturally occurring methane has tainted water since long before fracking was invented
Naturally occurring methane has tainted water since long before fracking was invented. However, environmental regulators from Pennsylvania to Arkansas to California echo Jackson. The allegation that fracking causes water pollution lacks just one thing: proof.
Beyond this, frackophobes would be astonished to see how much Anadarko, America’s third-largest natural-gas producer, obsesses over health, safety, and the environment in its Marcellus Shale operations. Anadarko and the American Petroleum Institute discussed these practices during a summer 2013 fact-finding tour that they hosted for journalists in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the thriving heart of what I call Frackistan.
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