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An Associated Press investigation into water contamination linked to fracking shows contamination in multiple wells in at least two states, information which is contrary to industry statements in the past. This investigation comes on the heels of the recent confirmation that fracking practices were the cause of earthquakes in Ohio in 2011, where fracking waste has been injected deep underground.  Earthquakes have also been documented in Oklahoma and Texas.  As North Carolina considers this energy source, it should closely monitor this information.

“Among the findings in the AP’s review:

— Pennsylvania has confirmed at least 106 water-well contamination cases since 2005, out of more than 5,000 new wells. There were five confirmed cases of water-well contamination in the first nine months of 2012, 18 in all of 2011 and 29 in 2010. The Environmental Department said more complete data may be available in several months.

— Ohio had 37 complaints in 2010 and no confirmed contamination of water supplies; 54 complaints in 2011 and two confirmed cases of contamination; 59 complaints in 2012 and two confirmed contaminations; and 40 complaints for the first 11 months of 2013, with two confirmed contaminations and 14 still under investigation, Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mark Bruce said in an email. None of the six confirmed cases of contamination was related to fracking, Bruce said.

— West Virginia has had about 122 complaints that drilling contaminated water wells over the past four years, and in four cases the evidence was strong enough that the driller agreed to take corrective action, officials said.

— A Texas spreadsheet contains more than 2,000 complaints, and 62 of those allege possible well-water contamination from oil and gas activity, said Ramona Nye, a spokeswoman for the Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees drilling. Texas regulators haven’t confirmed a single case of drilling-related water-well contamination in the past 10 years, she said.”

 

 

 

Estimates for how much natural gas is available in shale deposits in the US continue to spiral downward.  The US Energy Information Administration recently downsized its projections – in 2011 it estimated 827 trillion cubic feet but now says it’s more like 482 trillion cubic feet – more than a 40% drop.

Specifically for the Marcellus shale, covering parts of NY, Ohio and much of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, estimates have dropped from 410 trillion cubic feet to 141 trillion cubic feet – a whopping 66% lower (six years of supply rather than the 17 years originally touted). Meanwhile the US Geological Survey put the estimate at 84 trillion cubic feet in August. In other words, no one really has a solid handle on the situation.

So when the NC Geological Survey estimates that natural gas in shale deposits in our state could supply all our needs for 40 years or more – I suggest we remain skeptical and ask for a lot more data.

If you want to keep up with the latest news on fracking in NC, check out the NC Sierra Club’s new site, the Daily Frack.

 

 

The Sunday News and Observer front page story about hydraulic drilling for natural gas (known as fracking) missed some important collateral damage that North Carolinians could face if dangerous fracking were permitted in our state. Combine this with what we already know about the threats to groundwater and one has to wonder why Republican General Assembly Representatives Bob Rucho, Kelly Hastings and Mike Hager are still pushing it. Read More

The heated debate about whether hydraulic drilling for natural gas in shale formations (called fracking) should be allowed in North Carolina has mostly focused on technical issues. Will chemicals used in drilling for natural gas contaminate water supplies? What about air pollution emitted during fracking? Shouldn’t we study this issue before making a decision to overturn the state’s ban on this type of drilling?

These questions miss the point – to allow more extraction of fossil fuels will increase global warming pollution and slow the uptake in renewable energy – wasting precious time to address climate change. Read More