Less than 20 years ago people worried that the United States was about to run out of fuel. Not anymore! A wealth of natural gas is trapped in deeply buried underground rock, accessible through advances in two key technologies. One of them: hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” has been around more than 60 years. It involves pressure pumping millions of gallons of chemically treated water into deep shale formations to crack the shale or widen existing cracks and free hydrocarbons to flow toward the well. By the year 2035 it is estimated that shale gas will account for nearly half of the natural gas produced in the U.S.
But is fracking safe? In the award nominated documentary Gasland, a man in Colorado holds a flame to his kitchen faucet and turns on the water. After much rattling and hissing, suddenly a ball of fire erupts! So….. does fracking contaminate drinking water? Are the fluids used in the fracking process toxic? Is the natural gas derived from fracking cleaner than other fossil fuels?
Then there is evidence that fracking contributes to the depletion of water supplies, squanders our precious water resources, and wastewater created by the process is radioactive.
Is all of that true? ….and is it true that fracking can cause earthquakes?
Natural gas is American, it’s affordable and it’s abundant, but is it a better solution to our energy concerns than continuing to invest in solar and wind, conserving power and implementing energy-efficient technology? Or, as T. Boone Pickins concedes, should natural gas be a bridge fuel between more polluting fossil fuels and cleaner, renewable energy?
On Thursday, join Al Richardson, a retired petroleum geologist at Einstein’s Circle. He’ll talk about the facts and separate out the fiction in this highly controversial topic.