Fracking’s Future Attacked

Tait Trussell is a national award-winning writer, former vice-president of the American Enterprise Institute and former Washington correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

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Wrangling between natural gas drilling and political fright-mongers is looming with the Oct. 17 announcement that pipeline giant Kinder Morgan will become the largest gas pipeline operator in the U.S. This means accelerated gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, a technology developed by the company Halliburton.

The $21 billion deal for Kinder Morgan to buy El Paso Corp. will create a new network of 67,000 miles of lines to serve the rapidly-growing technological drilling advance of hydraulic fracturing, informally called “fracking.” A potential 200-year supply of needed natural gas is at stake.

A bill, Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, is pending in Congress to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act. This could slow hydraulic fracturing. The bill is sponsored by the usual suspects, including Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who probably has never seen a gas well, socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is plagued by fears of progress, and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who has no environmental legislative responsibility.

Democrats like to call it the “Halliburton loophole.” Before he became George W. Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney headed Halliburton. So, referencing Halliburton automatically rallies Democratic support.

An army of liberals also is instinctively opposed to drilling for gas because it’s a fossil fuel, even though it’s twice as clean as gasses discharged from burning coal or oil. The distaste is not like some people’s objection to, say, brussels sprouts. What gives eco-pros fits is the way the gas is obtained. Vast caches of natural gas trapped in deeply buried rock are now accessible by drilling by a proven and well regulated technology. Hydraulic fracking has unlocked enormous new supplies of clean-burning natural gas from dense deposits of shale.

According to, “Fracking has been used in more than one million U.S. wells and has safely produced more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”

Yet congressional Democrats charge that hundreds of millions of gallons of cancer-causing chemicals have been pumped into underground wells by the oil and gas industry.

The Natural Resources Defense Council complains that thousands of new wells in the Rocky Mountain region and in the South have expanded to the 600-mile-long formation called the Marcellus shale. It stretches from West Virginia to western New York. What makes the environmentalists wring their hands is the fracking process in which “dangerous chemicals” are mixed with large quantities of water and sand and injected into the wells at high pressure, making it a “suspect in polluted drinking water.”As to water safety, the gas is thousands of feet below the water aquifer and separated by many layers of rock.

The expanded pipeline will reach into practically every major region where natural gas is produced, from eastern states to southern states, including Florida’s huge market for natural gas. The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation calculates that 35,600 miles of high-pressure natural gas pipelines will have to be constructed between now and 2035 to meet demands of the market.

Besides multiplying our domestic energy supplies, shale development has “irrefutable economic benefits.” Fracking in the Marcellus and Barnett (Texas) shale has boosted local incomes—with royalty payments to property owners, furnishing tax revenues to the government and creating high-paying jobs in construction, engineering, surveying, equipment manufacturing, and other areas.

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  • theleastthreat

    The problems that come with this method of drilling can be overcome. The other way, which sends our troops to protect strategic assets so that imported oil arrives here, leaves a number of troops injured or killed. We can't overcome even one death. So I have to say, Frack away!

  • Herman Caintonette

    All energy production comes with some environmental cost; by way of example, wind turbines have been known to kill birds. The question is, what is the most cost-efficient way of doing so?

    A company in Colorado can produce gasoline from solar power and wood chips for an unsubsidized cost of $2/gallon.… I, for one, see no need to have a significant presence in the M.E. moving forward.

    It's not that I am against fracking but rather, maintain that we have to figure out a way to get the gas out of the ground that doesn't imperil the water supply. The wars of the 21st century will be fought over water, folks.

    • Western Canadian

      Wars in the 21st century will be fought over many things. Most of them will be due to the hatred and bigotry mandated in islam.

  • Mike

    One of the problems well owners have is knowing if/when their drinking water may become contaminated because of the fracking operation. It can take quite a while for any chemical seepage to reach the well water. That means you need to establish a water testing schedule to monitor the quality of your well water.

    • mrbean

      Show me a single case proven in court – not some environmntalists report.

      • sedoanman

        Once we get solar power humming merrily along and satisfying our energy needs, the Left will start complaining that, "Humans Using Up Too Much Sun".

        • ebonystone

          Unfortunately solar power will never satisfy much of our energy needs, It's too intermittent; solar panels produce their rated power only about 1/3 of the time. So for the other 2/3 we need steam plants — either nuclear or coal-fired. And since we have to have the steam plants anyway, why bother with solar at all? It's an unneeded and expensive extra.

          • Mr.Gates

            That's an interesting point. I haven't seen that one before. Very good!

  • mrbean

    Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, is a proven technological advancement which allows producers to safely recover natural gas and oil from deep shale formations. This technology has the potential to not only dramatically reduce our reliance on foreign fuel imports, but also to significantly reduce our national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and accelerate our transition to a carbon-light environment. Simply put, deep shale gas and oil formation development is critical to America's energy needs and economic renewal.

  • sedoanman

    The Left, who now call themselves "progressives", are really against any progress that leads to a better America, especially one with more freedom for Joe Average. If a perfect energy source were found [i.e., free and without causing pollution], the Left would find something to belly-ache about because its mission is all about making America lose.

  • theleastthreat

    Let's just get the gas out of the ground. The problems with fracking are not insurmountable.

  • Herman Caintonette

    I rather doubt that. The Left is every bit as pro-American (and, more pro-American jobs) as most conservatives are.

    • sedoanman

      Thirty years ago, liberals were touting natural gas automobiles that produced no pollution except "water and CO2, the gas that produces bubbles in soda pop."

      The Left's idea of patriotism is treason. Once again, they deliver exactly the opposite of what they say they will. They can't help it, because to implement their plans, they have to take away everyone's freedom, which they gladly will so as not to have to sacrifice their ideology.

  • Flipside

    Since the purpose of fracking is to get oil and gas out of the ground faster to improve the bottom line of companies and not to provide vast new amounts of fossil fuel to consumers at a new low price, it makes perfect sense to evaluate the environmental impacts using scientific findings of both industry and non-industry research. We can’t leave this up to just the oil industry and its PR groups like the American Enterprise Institute, because their interests are solely financial and political (corporatist). Mr. Trussell objects as strenuously to disclosure as he does to regulation, and that is just plain absurd.

    • Western Canadian

      Adding vast new amounts of fossil fuel to the market (such as it is) would in and of itself result in lower prices. Some background in economics would be something you should consider….

      • Flipside

        Ah, no it wouldn’t.

    • ebonystone

      I'd rather leave it up to the oil industry and the AEI than the U.S. government. The government has a pretty poor track record when it comes to honesty and integrity.

  • Flowerknife_us

    A Million Fracking wells and the enviromentalists can still only suggest there might be a problem?

    I cannot think of a better reason to hold up progress . Well maybe.

    If I go to work, I may get sick. So it is best I not go to work cause who wants to get sick?

    Just about the whole fracking summation on fracking.

  • steven l

    The "" industry has a long way to go to prove how safe and clean "F" is.
    No "F…ing" until overwhelming evidence are available. But if they r right, then I am all 4 it.
    Oil spill is enough! Most of it due to greed and incompetence. What don't U understand?

  • Avis de consommateur

    The problems with fracking are not so big, let's focus on something else..

  • Herman Caintonette

    Take a look at this video:

    Fresh water is the most precious substance on this planet. If drilling for natural gas compromises our water supply, the cost is too high. Fracking appears to cause this problem, industry denials (e.g., the tobacco companies' fraud) notwithstanding.

    Remember, pollution is a subsidy to producers; we all pay for it.

  • Herman Caintonette

    Unfortunately, the side-effects include ignitable tap water. Impermeable, my Coulter!

  • marc

    Uh, naturally occuring natural gas in the water table, unrelated to fracking.

  • Herman Caintonette

    I'm not dogmatic about fracking, as I would much rather use LNG than coal. But that having been said, I think it is incumbent upon the industry to prove that it is safe, as opposed to the other way around. Once an aquifer is compromised, it is gone for good.

  • ebonystone

    Well, the article points out that fracking has been used in thousands of wells. So, is there any real evidence that water supplies have been polluted in these cases? From all I've read, fracking has a very good track record in this matter.

  • ebonystone