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Natural Gas Industry Rhetoric Versus Reality

February 26, 2011

Brendan DeMelle from De Smog Blog has taken an important and critical look at some of the PR talking points coming from the gas industry. He’s analyzed how gas proponents use them to try to convince the public, lawmakers, and anyone else who might speak up “that fracking is safe despite real concerns raised by residents living near gas drilling sites, whose experiences reveal a much more controversial situation.”

This research used health reports and interviews with experts to counter and dispel the following claims;

There has never been a proven instance of drinking water contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing is a proven method successfully applied in millions of gas wells for over 60 years.

The water contamination featured in Gasland and investigated by journalists from ProPublica are instances of preexisting methane contamination from other sources. Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas occurs thousands of feet below water bearing aquifers and could not possibly be their source of contamination.

The natural gas industry and its use of hydraulic fracturing are – and have always been – “aggressively regulated” by the states.

Hydraulic fracturing has not been made exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act because it was never regulated under it in the first place.

The chemicals used in the fracturing process are as common as household cleaning products, cosmetics and processed food ingredients. Companies are voluntarily reporting fracturing chemicals on their websites so the legal disclosure required by the FRAC Act is unnecessary.

The majority of fracture fluids remain underground in the hydraulic fracturing process.

In 2004 the EPA’s study on hydraulic fracturing concluded that the process posed no real threat to drinking water. The current EPA studies, the first regarding human health and drinking water due in 2012 and the second considering the lifecycle of natural gas drilling operations due in 2014, are redundant.

Natural gas has a lighter carbon footprint than other fossil fuels such as oil or coal.

In some states like Pennsylvania, much of the wastewater from hydraulic fracturing is recycled. Where wastewater is not recycled, it is safely injected into underground wells.

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